Case Studies

France: Prioritize Pedestrians

Inspired by Belgium’s 2004 street code, France adapted its street code in 2008 to reflect the philosophy that all street users should be able to move about safely, no matter their age, physical abilities, or mode of travel. The updated street code instituted a general principle of prudence, specifying that each street user must show increased prudence toward more vulnerable users. Toward that end, the street code specifies travel behavior by defined zones: the 45 mph, 30 mph, and 20 mph zones; the pedestrian priority zone; and then pedestrian areas. Standardizing the definitions and signage of these zones helps street users adapt their behavior. For drivers, that means slowing down vehicular speeds to the posted limits and ceding priority to pedestrians within pedestrian and 20 mph zones. For cyclists, that means the ability to cycle in both directions down one-way streets within pedestrian-priority and 20 mph zones. For pedestrians, that means the privilege of crossing the street outside marked crosswalks within pedestrian areas, pedestrian-priority zones, and 20 mph zones. Each traffic zone requires a continuous and clear route for pedestrians with reduced mobility; pedestrian-priority zones must also include clearly marked dedicated pedestrian-only areas.

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