Pedestrian crashes are a major road safety problem, especially in low and middle income countries. Footpaths (or sidewalks) reduce crash risk by separating vehicles and pedestrians and help to promote walking as an alternative to motorized transport.
Footpaths (or sidewalks) are created by providing space that is separated from the road for people to walk to and from home, a place of work, recreational facilities, schools, shops, and public transport. Footpaths should be provided wherever people need or want to walk along a road.
Footpaths are typically constructed from concrete and raised above the road surface with curbs but may also be constructed from asphalt, crushed stone or by covering linear drainage channels providing a stable, consistent and slip-resistant surface is created and well maintained. Footpaths should be continuous and accessible to all pedestrians including those in wheelchairs.
The safety benefit of a footpath will be greatest if the footpath is separated from the road (for example, by a drain, a grass verge or a barrier). Pedestrians also feel more comfortable to walk when there is a wide separation between traffic and the footpath, especially on higher speed roads.
In urban areas inadequate footpath space, street traders, parked cars or poor footpath surfaces can force pedestrians onto the road. Footpaths may be widened to improve access and physical barriers such as bollards 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.
In rural areas where pedestrians walk along the road less frequently, a wide paved shoulder may serve as a walkway, and this can delineated with simple kerbs or flexible posts that help separate those walking from the travel lanes. Informal footpaths can be created by using a road grader to create a flat, stabilized, unpaved walkway, though this requires regular maintenance. In areas that have large drainage channels to manage rainfall, there is often an opportunity to create a footpath by covering the drain.
- 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.
Low to medium
10 years - 20 years
Potential casualty reduction