Continuous footways for pedestrians

The design of driveways and their impact on footways is often forgotten in street design. That’s because not many people realise that crossing over driveways and roadways at side streets to continue a journey is part of a footway. Consequently, the design of continuous footways has a role to play in creating walkable neighbourhoods.

Living Streets is a UK based charity focused on safe and accessible walking and wheeling. As part of a major project to encourage walking they have produced a report on inclusive design and continuous footways.

The research project included a literature review, GIS mapping, working with professionals, working with people with disability, which led to detailed site work. The issues raised in this project are likely to be similar in other jurisdictions.

Key conclusions are:

  • There’s confusion over what constitutes a continuous footway, their design, and what their use aims to achieve
  • Many designs being called continuous footways in Britain do not convincingly continue the footway
  • Most of the designs called continuous footways in Britain do not provide high levels of pedestrian priority
Bright green front cover of Inclusive design at continuous footways.
  • The use of these designs can create problems not just for some disabled people, but for a wider group
  • Where there are fewer vehicles travelling at lower speeds, it’s easier to establish pedestrian priority
  • What we call “real” continuous footways might be more effective in prioritising pedestrians
A narrow cobbled roadway and paved footpaths with a view of a tall skyscraper building in the background.

Many pedestrians find crossing over delivery driveways and car parking driveways unsafe. This is largely due to drivers and pedestrians not knowing who has the right of way.

Design issues

Researchers found that some designers wanted to design for maximum pedestrian safety, but were forced to compromise by “highway engineers”. People who are blind or have low vision are particularly impacted where the footway is not clearly delineated by kerbs or clear transitions. This results in that journeys not made when pedestrians feel unsafe.

Design factors having potential significance for pedestrians are:

  • Continuity of main carriageway kerb
  • Lack of visible (kerb) radii at the main carriageway
  • Continuity of markings (white line)
  • Height different and ramp design
  • Visual continuity of materials and colour of footway
  • Contrast between footway and carriageway colour
New housing development showing narrow footpath and nature strip.

Findings from the study

Overall there was a broad failure to prioritise pedestrians at all study sites even where designers were aiming to prioritise pedestrians. Failure to reduce vehicle speeds and use visual cues so that drivers know when they are crossing a footway were two findings.

The title of the Living Streets report is, Inclusive design at continuous footways. There is a separate document of appendices that has many illustrations. The Living Streets website has more about the project and links to further documents.

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