The Garden Guide

Book: Landscape Planning and Environmental Impact Design: from EIA to EID
Chapter: Chapter 10 Sustainable green transport

Pedestrian footways

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Walking is not only for vacations! 

Pedestrians should be pampered. Walking requires even more muscular exertion than cycling. Therefore pedestrians deserve even more consideration than cyclists. Standard practice, for the last century, has been to make a raised 'sidewalk' or 'pavement' alongside the vehicle route. It is a good arrangement, but it is very far from being the only good arrangement. As always, much depends on context and on the volume and speed of traffic. Since vehicular traffic is rising in every town, more redesign will have to be carried out in the interests of pedestrians. Nobody likes to walk near a 100km/hour freeway or motorway. If vehicle flows or speeds are high, footways cannot run beside roads: they must be routed through greenspace, residential or shopping areas. If vehicle speeds and flows are low, a paved surface can be shared with pedestrians. Drivers are made to feel 'intruders' on pedestrian space, which makes them take extra care. Footways can also be shared with cyclists, providing the flow of neither group is excessive, and the cyclists behave like 'wheeled pedestrians'. On non-essential routes, there is no need for a 2 metre wide pavement. It is boring and it jars one's feet. Here, a genuine 'footpath' is the best solution: it should be one or two 'feet' wide and surfaced with bound gravel, so that it becomes smoothly uneven like the sole of a human foot [Fig 10.20]. But why shouldn't pedestrians have a space which is totally vehicle-free? The primary reason is that 'pedestrians' are also vehicle users. Unless they live within a few minutes walk of their destination, they will want to arrive by bus, bicycle or car, and they will not be content with a drop-off point where 'vehicle zone' meets 'pedestrian zone'. A second reason is that if the total volume of pedestrian traffic is low, walkers must worry about their personal security. Passing vehicles give safety, providing there are not too many of them.