Plans and policies serve as the framework for developing safe, comfortable, and connected pedestrian networks. Pedestrian issues are addressed at many different levels of planning, ranging from neighborhood plans to city, county, state, and federal policies and plans. With thorough planning, a community can become proactive rather than reactive in addressing issues of pedestrian accessibility, safety, and aesthetics. Planning involves engaging the public, collecting information about current and future conditions, and considering what policies, plans, programs, and resources a municipality will require to meet its needs.
While communities can address pedestrian issues within a variety of plan types, dedicated pedestrian plans indicate a community’s commitment to pedestrian issues and may help assure that these issues are given sufficient attention in the planning process. Pedestrian plans can also focus attention on implementation, especially if the plan specifies responsibilities, creates accountability, and designates funding sources for projects and programs. In addition, having a documented pedestrian plan with specific priorities can help agencies plan to use limited resources, such as staff time and money, more efficiently. By setting target mode shares and safety goals, communities have specific benchmarks by which they can measure their progress. Including (and making progress towards achieving) a goal to increase walking as a form of transportation indicates a community’s commitment to supporting pedestrian issues and its ability to do so.
- List of sample pedestrian plans
- Creating Walkable and Bikeable Communities: A user guide to developing pedestrian and bicycle master plans
- FHWA Guidebook for Developing Bicycle and Pedestrian Performance Measures
- Seattle, WA, has a Pedestrian Master Plan that establishes clear goals and measurable performance indicators.
- San Francisco, CA’s, Better Streets Plan is a set of implementation strategies and goals to provide and maintain a better streetscape and pedestrian environment.
- Arcata, CA, has an excellent plan that is reviewed annually by the city’s Traffic Safety Commission and City Council. The plan receives a formal update every five years and includes a goal of 50% of all trips by non-motorized modes.
- Evanston, IL, has specific Neighborhood plans that do a great job prioritizing pedestrian safety and comfort; and a multi-modal transportation plan that includes solid baseline data, a project prioritization method, and recommendations that focus on infrastructure as well as programs.
Public participation is integral to the success of transportation planning and should be considered at every stage of the planning process, from collecting baseline data to conducting post-implementation evaluation. Including pedestrian stakeholders in the planning review process can help secure residents’ support for projects and help a municipality identify safety concerns that it may not have been aware of.
- How Do I Start a Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee
- Incorporating Qualitative Data in the Planning Process: Improving Project Delivery and Outcomes
- Public Involvement Techniques for Transportation Decisionmaking: Engaging People Through Outreach and Organization
- ChangeLab Solutions: Participating in the Planning Process resources
- 10 Lessons in More Engaging Citizen Engagement
- Eugene, OR, developed its own Public Participation Guidelines, part of the Diversity and Equity Strategic Plan, to better enable the public to identify priorities and solutions, and to allow the city to better understand community concerns.
- Burlington, VT, offers the option for drop-in public comments during expanded business hours, the option for child care/translators, and an outreach employee focused on new residents/immigrants.
- Somerville, MA, uses the online platform Somerville by Design to help residents collaborate with public officials on a range of planning and implementation efforts.
Complete Streets are designed and operate to enable safe and convenient access for all users. Pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities are able to safely move along and across a complete street. Complete Streets policies indicate a municipality’s commitment to planning for all modes, all ages, and all abilities. By adopting an official Complete Streets policy, some communities have been able to leverage more funding for pedestrian infrastructure and improvements from transportation budgets.
- The City Commission in Lakeland, FL, adopted a resolution re-confirming its support of existing plans, policies, and programs to promote walking. Another example of Lakeland’s political leadership encouraging active lifestyles is the twice-monthly walks hosted by a city commissioner: “No timers, no medals, just an opportunity to get up, get out and start walking.”
- Davidson, NC’s, Complete Streets guidelines indicate a willingness on the part of the local government to plan for all modes of transportation. Requiring developers to comply with Complete Streets guidelines is a great way of ensuring that new streets are designed and constructed for all users.
- In 2007 the Seattle City Council adopted a Complete Streets Ordinance, which directs the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) to design streets for pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders, and persons of all abilities, while promoting safe operation for all users, including freight. This is the lens through which SDOT views its major maintenance and construction projects. All SDOT capital projects are required to conduct a Complete Streets review and document the results.
Transit System and Accessibility
It is important to consider public transportation when planning for pedestrians and vice versa. Cities that are well served by transit can reduce automobile dependency and increase both walking (the number and frequency of walking trips) and walkability (the human-scale land use and design elements that encourage walking). However, for some smaller communities, anything more than demand-responsive public transportation may be unnecessary.
- Pedestrian Safety Guide for Transit Agencies
- How Far, By Which Route, and Why? A Spatial Analysis of Pedestrian Preference
Boulder, CO, has an excellent transit system for a city of its size. Eighty-six percent of residents live within one-quarter-mile of a bus stop, and over 90 percent of transit stops are wheelchair accessible. With long service hours and 12-minute peak period headways, the bus system is a convenient choice for many Boulder residents.
The transit service in Sitka, AK, is exemplary for a remote community of 8,000. The system is operated by the Sitka Tribe of Alaska and includes three bus routes that run on the hour or half-hour.
Numerous policies geared toward specific elements of the built environment can impact walkability in a big way. These include:
- Parking Policies: The design, price, and amount of parking in a community affect an area’s walkability. Careful attention to the quality of parking provided, rather than the quantity, can help create walk-friendly environments.
- Land Use Policies: Dense development is associated with higher levels of walking and transit use and reduced automobile dependency. The positive relationship between density and walking might be even more significant in less urbanized areas.
- Connectivity Policies: A connectivity policy is extremely important in terms of encouraging pedestrian access and pedestrian travel. In addition, street connectivity, grid networks, and short block lengths are helpful in creating direct routes to destinations.
- Streetscape Design: Pedestrian amenities and urban design elements are important for making walking comfortable and enjoyable. Street trees, lighting, benches, public art, and more can enhance the pedestrian experience, promoting more walking and improving safety.
- ChangeLab Solutions’ Pedestrian Friendly Code Directory
- Parking Management: Strategies, Evaluation and Planning
- EPA Parking Places/Community Spaces
- Creating Great Neighborhoods- Density in Your Community
- Main Streets Programs
- Density Bonuses
- VTPI Guidance on Connectivity
- American Institute of Architects: Livability 101
- Bend, OR, uses a variety of parking management strategies to ensure a more attractive walking environment, including maximum parking standards, landscape buffers, shared parking, and in some areas, locational requirements that parking to be behind the building so the building stays in close proximity to the sidewalk.
- Denver, CO, has a strong parking management strategy that is outlined in its Strategic Parking Plan and implemented through the city’s form-based zoning code.
- Tallahassee, FL, has great parking and land use policies that encourage dense, mixed-use development, especially within the city’s 18-square-mile Mobility District. The city offers incentives and density bonuses to developers who provide inclusionary housing, accessory dwelling units (allowed in all zoning districts), or amenities that improve the pedestrian environment.
- Arlington, VA’s, Master Transportation Plan does a good job recognizing the relationship between transportation and land use.
- The small community of Sandpoint, ID, has a Downtown Streets Plan and Design Guide that describes street typologies and offers flexible guidance on streetscape design, including the placement of amenities.
- Portsmouth, VA, is largely built-out and benefits from a downtown grid network. The city’s zoning code supports the vision of a pedestrian-friendly city by reducing parking requirements, instituting a form-based code for central Portsmouth, and offering density bonuses for developers who include green building features.