Better Sidewalks = Happier Communities

Better Sidewalks = Happier Communities

Good Sidewalk Design

Have you ever walked on a narrow sidewalk along a busy road with nothing but a 6″ curb between you and distracted drivers, fearfully mumbling to yourself, please don’t hit me, please don’t hit me? How often have you had to dodge telephone poles, inconveniently-placed parking meters, and lights while you stroll? How many times have you decided to drive a short distance because there weren’t any good options to walk the mile and a half to your destination?  Too often, I bet.

Well-designed sidewalks are a critical component of the transformation of the White Flint area into a work-live-play community.

Now you might not think there’s much to say about sidewalks, but take a moment to read this very interesting article, “The Eight Principles of the Sidewalk.” The illustrations in the article effectively demonstrate the difference between good and bad sidewalks.

  1.  Sidewalks are made of up three zones: the free zone, where people actually walk; the service zone, where street furniture like benches or trashcans are located; and the transition zone, which gives those on the sidewalk access to buildings lining the street.
  2. The material used to construct sidewalks needs to be consistent, firm, stable and slip-resistant.
  3. Sidewalks must be quickly drained of water so puddles don’t form.
  4. Sidewalks must serve serve those in wheelchairs, on crutches, pregnant women, the elderly, and others with special mobility needs.
  5. Sidewalks need to connected and integrated within larger transport networks.
  6.  Interesting, vibrant sidewalks that can captivate people will make walking more attractive.
  7. Adopt strategies to positively influence safety and security.
  8. Pedestrians must be given clear information and good signage.

Amy Ginsburg



Mo Ghahhari

Brick-, and stone-surfaced sidewalks are attractive but uncomfortable to walk on, not practical for wheels such as wheelchairs or shopping carts, often held in sand and become loose. Also, those ugly metal grids around trees are obstacles to pedestrians. And, most likely those are what we’ll get. No, no to both.


Yes, yes, yes! The sidewalk along the south end of Nicholson between Rockville Pike and Boiling Brook is a death trap. Buses flying by 6 inches from pedestrians. Weird curb cuts. Random electrical equipment boxes in the middle of the side walk blocking drivers’ views of pedestrians (at the entrance to the Shoppers shopping center). It’s wretched walking along that stretch. The sidewalk needs to be at least twice as wide and have a buffer of grass or something between it and the street.

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