Pedestrian Footpath

Pedestrian crashes are a major road safety problem in developing countries. Footpaths or sidewalks can reduce crash risk by separating vehicles and pedestrians.

In urban areas, raised footpaths are often part of the road cross-section. In rural areas footpaths are often not provided, even where pedestrian volumes are high.

Rural footpaths

A footpath next to the road, or a wide flat road shoulder, can prevent pedestrian crashes. The safety benefits will be greatest if the footpath is separated from the road (for example, by a drain, a grass verge or a barrier).

A rural footpath can be made relatively cheaply by using a road grader to flatten and clear one side, or preferably, both sides of the road. Pedestrian crossings are needed where rural footpaths pass through communities or trading centres (see pedestrian grade separation, pedestrian refuge island, pedestrian crossing - unsignalised, pedestrian crossing - signalised).

Urban footpaths

In urban areas inadequate footpath space, street traders, parked cars or poor footpath surfaces can force pedestrians onto the road. In some areas the existing surface may be widened to improve access. Physical barriers to prevent parking on the footpath can be useful.

In central areas, streets can be closed to vehicles for part of the day or permanently.

  • Increased safety for pedestrians.
  • Improves facilities for pedestrians (improves accessibility).
  • May help to increase walking as a mode of transport (environmental benefits and reduced traffic congestion).
  • Walking can improve health and fitness.
  • A routine maintenance programme is needed to ensure that footpaths are kept clean and level, free from defects and to prevent vegetation from causing an obstruction.
  • Signage should be used to warn drivers of pedestrians if the road shoulder is commonly used as an informal footpath.
  • Street traders, public utility apparatus and street furniture should not be allowed to obstruct the footpath.
  • It is recommended that consideration be given to improving accessibility for the mobility impaired. This should include design features such as paved footpaths with sufficient width to accommodate wheelchairs, dropped kerbs at pedestrian crossing points, tactile paving and improved road markings and signs.

Benefits

  • Increased safety for pedestrians.
  • Improves facilities for pedestrians (improves accessibility).
  • May help to increase walking as a mode of transport (environmental benefits and reduced traffic congestion).
  • Walking can improve health and fitness.

Implementation issues

  • A routine maintenance programme is needed to ensure that footpaths are kept clean and level, free from defects and to prevent vegetation from causing an obstruction.
  • Signage should be used to warn drivers of pedestrians if the road shoulder is commonly used as an informal footpath.
  • Street traders, public utility apparatus and street furniture should not be allowed to obstruct the footpath.
  • It is recommended that consideration be given to improving accessibility for the mobility impaired. This should include design features such as paved footpaths with sufficient width to accommodate wheelchairs, dropped kerbs at pedestrian crossing points, tactile paving and improved road markings and signs.

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