Strategies > Transportation Infrastructure > Pedestrian Infrastructure
Pedestrian infrastructure includes sidewalks, trails, crosswalks, and intersection designs. Increased sidewalk coverage, increasing the connectivity of pedestrian walkways, and adequate sidewalk widths are included in this strategy. Street lighting and landscaping are additional micro-scale design elements that facilitate walking.
Planning and designing streetscapes for a range of users--vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians--is the aim of Complete Streets policies and projects. The research construct for Pedestrian Infrastructure (Community Guide, 2016) and Complete Streets (County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, 2017) are similar, so they are both included here under the strategy of Pedestrian Infrastructure.
Pedestrian infrastructure is a recommended strategy for increasing physical activity and increasing walking, (Community Guide, 2016; County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, 2017) and a scientifically supported strategy for increasing pedestrian safety (County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, 2017).
Postulated benefits include reduced vehicle use, reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT), greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), and air pollution. Pedestrian infrastructure benefits can include increased active transportation, reduced obesity rates, reduced rates of pedestrian and cyclist injuries, reduced stress, and improved aesthetics and positive user perceptions of space. Pedestrian infrastructure may enhance economic activity and increase employment (Community Guide, 2016; County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, 2017).
Equity and Inclusion
- Pedestrians are disproportionately injured and killed on US roadways. While overall rates of deaths from traffic crashes decreased in 2018, pedestrian deaths increased; in fact, they are the highest they have been since 1990 (NHTSA, 2019).
- Drivers are less likely to yield to Black pedestrians attempting to cross the street in crosswalks, suggesting driver bias may play a role in Black pedestrian deaths (Coughenour et al., 2017, paywall; Goddard et al., 2015, paywall).
- People of color, especially Black people, may fear harassment or violence while walking. As such, an approach that only incorporates environmental interventions will not directly address racist violence.
- Street lighting may improve resident perception of safety.
- Consider the needs of people with disabilities in your pedestrian network, including those who use mobility devices, deaf people, low-vision or blind people, and those with developmental disabilities. Contact your local Center for Independent Living for help in assessing pedestrian accessibility for these populations.
- To map sidewalk accessibility, use the open-source platform Project Sidewalk.
Guides & Reports
Metropolitan Planning Organization Ideas to Improve and Provide More Walking and Bicycling Projects
Transportation for America & American Public Health Association, 2017