Designing a Walkable Community

Walking is a key part of active living, so infrastructure should be designed to make walking a safe and enjoyable option. 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. Watch this video to learn how to design a walkable community.

As noted in the Healthy and Complete Communities in Delaware: The Walkability Assessment Tool, communities should consider the following five criteria when planning for pedestrian- friendly design:

  • Continuity – The circulation system provides a continuous, unbroken network including linkages connecting sidewalks, public and private trails, shared-use paths, and major destination points within the community.
  • Safety – The system separates vehicles and pedestrians, provides safe and well marked crosswalks, and is free from obstructions.
  • Comfort – The walking surfaces are accessible and accommodate all persons; they are also smooth, level, and drain well.
  • Convenience – The network is designed to promote access to the community’s major destinations; distances between origins and destinations are short and direct.
  • Visual Appeal – The design encourages pedestrian use, provides scenic interest, and provides unexpected and pleasing vistas.

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