photo of rehoboth boardwalkDesigning a Walkable Community

A pedestrian circulation system is a comprehensive and connected network of sidewalks, paths, trails, bikeways, and crosswalks that links key destinations, open spaces, and focal points of a community.

A well-designed and -maintained pedestrian circulation system can encourage people to be more active and less automobile-dependent. Sound planning and design of a pedestrian network or components of the system will minimize the need for costly future facility maintenance, reconstruction, or rehabilitation. Basic components of a pedestrian circulation system are sidewalks, shared-use paths, and trails that are continuously linked to form a connected network. Each component needs to address the following:

  • pedestrians and persons in wheelchairs
  • universal access by persons of all ages and abilities
  • well-designed intersections
  • traffic-calming measures
  • good lighting

Aesthetics can be further enhanced by installing:

  • landscaping
  • street trees
  • planting strips
  • buffer zones

Streetscape features can be incorporated to provide ambiance and promote a more human-scale orientation. These features include:

  • public art
  • benches
  • trash receptacles
  • water fountains
  • transit shelters
  • light fixtures

Additionally, adequate signage is needed to indicate:

  • potential conflicts
  • destinations
  • intersections
  • street crossings
  • regulatory information

IPA has developed an Implementation Checklist for Walkable Communities PDF icon that may be used by a community to design their pedestrian circulation system. The implementation checklist provides a comprehensive overview of pedestrian network sign features, codes and regulations governing the pedestrian environment, and operational issues such as maintenance, as a basis for improving pedestrian access and overall character of the community.

"Exercise by Accident” video segment of WHYY TV's April 6, 2012, weekly show "First"

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