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How To Improve the Sidewalk Quality in Cities

Written by:
Felicia Priedel
Steffen Muldbjerg

Often, sidewalks are overlooked in urban planning because most people use vehicle transportation to navigate a large city. However, pedestrians who walk to and from destinations deserve a dedicated space within their city where they can safely walk from one block to another. Improve the quality of the sidewalks to create a more inclusive urban community.

Materials and Surfaces

When pedestrians use the sidewalk, the city must ensure the concrete or building material is slip resistant, long-lasting, and sturdy. Municipalities could benefit from permeable paving for a safer walkway for visitors and residents.

When a large storm comes, sidewalks will often flood, leaving little to no room for people to maneuver around, which will cause them to use the busy street for walking. To ensure you preserve the walkway from water, use rain gardens and cross slopes for drainage systems.

Accessibility for Multiple People

In order for your city to be more inclusive, the sidewalks and pathways must be accessible to individuals with special needs, wheelchairs, pregnant women, and the elderly. Planning an urban community means keeping every demographic in mind to create an environment that is welcoming to all people from different walks of life. Install curb ramps for wheelchairs, low-angle running slopes, and other tactile surfaces for citizens with impaired vision.

Directions and Signs

The majority of walkways will be next to a busy road, so communication through signs, lights, and maps is essential for guiding pedestrians along the correct path. Keep the signs consistent in design and readability and easily identifiable. Without directions, it can be challenging for people to orient themselves within the city—prevent confusion by placing these maps and signs on the sidewalk along with traffic signals so you can minimize accidents on crosswalks.

Appealing Sidewalk Appearance

Appearance is everything when it comes to improving the quality of your city’s sidewalks. Plant vibrant vegetation and trees to promote walking so people have something to look at as they make their way to their destination. Make using these walkways more enjoyable by having benches and other urban furniture available to enhance the aesthetic of the sidewalk.

Promote inclusivity by having accessible walkways for all kinds of pedestrians. Urban planning can effectively drive traffic to your city by making the streets safer and more visually appealing. How will you improve the sidewalks in your town?

By Liliana Alvarez

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