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.
- 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.
- The material used to construct sidewalks needs to be consistent, firm, stable and slip-resistant.
- Sidewalks must be quickly drained of water so puddles don’t form.
- Sidewalks must serve serve those in wheelchairs, on crutches, pregnant women, the elderly, and others with special mobility needs.
- Sidewalks need to connected and integrated within larger transport networks.
- Interesting, vibrant sidewalks that can captivate people will make walking more attractive.
- Adopt strategies to positively influence safety and security.
- Pedestrians must be given clear information and good signage.