Planners and Architects

Adopt Accessible & Attractive Streetscape Design Guidelines

The shape and amenities of sidewalks, crosswalks, and plazas are often determined by streetscape design guidelines. These guidelines can require that walking infrastructure is accessible to all persons regardless of ability or stature, and they can help create a safe, pleasant place for people to walk, sit, stand, and move around.

Guidance
  • Create a community advisory committee to meet regularly with guidelines staff during the creation of pedestrian-environment design guidelines
  • Reach out to the general public for input through community meetings, surveys, and an interactive website
  • Collaborate with technical agency staff to ensure feasibility of proposed guidelines
  • Guidelines should:
    • Incorporate proposed Public Rights-of-Way- Accessibility Guidelines (PROWAG) to ensure universal access
    • Minimize pedestrian risk from vehicles
    • Address pedestrian concerns, like safety, lighting, shade, seating, and sidewalk clearances and crossings
    • Create safe public space and seating
    • Address ecological concerns, including on-site stormwater management and the creation of local habitats where feasible
    • Create safe access to transit
  • Guidelines should address aesthetic and accessibility concerns simultaneously where feasible, as exemplified in these San Francisco Better Streets suggestions:
    • Add street trees, landscaping, stormwater facilities, and furnishings to:
    • Projects that dig up sidewalks
    • Traffic-calming projects
  • Include curb extensions in curb-ramp construction projects
  • Add pedestrian-oriented lighting when upgrading roadway lighting
  • Consolidate utilities, parking meters, signs, and poles to widen sidewalk clearances on any streetscape-improvement project
  • Include public art on projects that create new structures in the right-of-way
Benefits
  • Increases accessibility for all people on the street, especially those with visual or mobility impairments
  • Creates safe, accessible, and convenient walking connections
  • Encourages walking for all ages and abilities
  • Supports transit use for all ages and abilities
  • Helps create an appealing and comfortable streetscape
Considerations
  • Accommodating competing uses within a limited amount of space
  • Accommodating curbside parking
Where to Use It
  • Any jurisdiction that is responsible for the design of the streetscape beyond the portion of the right-of-way used for vehicle purposes
Professional Consensus
  • In the absence of national academic or association standards, jurisdictions are looking to best practices of other jurisdictions
Examples

This material is the product of a partnership between America Walks and Sam Schwartz Engineering. Visit here for more information on the partnership.