Planners and Architects

Build Pedestrian and Cyclist Bridges

These are bridges designed exclusively for pedestrians and bicyclists where at-grade solutions can’t be found—often over railways, waterways, or highways— that provide needed transportation links for walkers and cyclists.

Guidance
  • Exhaust at-grade solutions first, as those are often more walkable and less expensive
  • Locate bridges so that they are on the normal path of pedestrian travel with the least amount of vertical difference possible
  • Connect bridges to current or future pedestrian/bicyclist destinations, like transit hubs, parks, schools, job centers, arenas, and neighborhoods
  • Design logical, direct, clearly marked access points to and from the bridge
  • Provide access options for different modes and mobility levels, such as ADA ramps and stairs with a bike gutter
  • Retrofit nearby routes and intersections to accommodate pedestrians and cyclists
  • Design bridges wide enough for expected numbers of pedestrians and cyclists
  • Incorporate PROWAG into design elements
  • Provide adequate lighting for safety and security of bridge users
  • Consider screens to prevent falling debris
  • Provide at least an 8’ clearance for emergency or maintenance vehicles
  • Budget for ongoing maintenance
Benefits
  • Encourages walking and cycling
  • Connects areas and transportation networks separated by barriers such as waterways, railways, or highways
  • Encourages activities and economic development in previously isolated areas
  • Provides an alternative to at-grade crossings
  • Creates a potential architectural attraction
  • Potentially minimizes travel time
Considerations
  • Potential negative impact on vitality of adjacent land uses
  • Construction costs
  • Time and money for alternatives analysis, design, and environmental-review processes
  • Ensuring security
  • Considering design safety
  • Pedestrian and cyclist convenience and compliance: An Institute of Transportation Engineers study determined 70% of pedestrians would use an overcrossing if the travel time were equal to that of an atgrade crossing, while very few would use an overcrossing if it took 50% longer to use than an at-grade crossing
Where to Use It
  • Where physical barriers such as waterways and highways cut off neighborhoods or nonmotorized transportation networks
  • Where existing at-grade crossings have a history of pedestrian crashes, or don’t meet ADA standards
  • Where large numbers of school children cross busy streets
  • Where seniors or mobility-impaired pedestrians need to cross a major roadway
  • Where railway agencies prohibit at-grade railroad crossings
  • Integrated into new transit and/or rail bridges
Professional Consensus
Examples

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