Design Sidewalks Properly

It’s easy to get sidewalks wrong; here are some important tips
  • Jeff Speck


The right width: Suburban sidewalks should typically be 5 feet wide, 6 feet in places where a lot of walking is anticipated. In urban areas—including suburban shopping districts—this 6-foot measure should be maintained as a minimum clear zone, meaning that width for trees, placards, tables, benches, and other furnishings must be provided in addition. As a result, the typical urban sidewalk is 12 feet wide or more, depending on the amount of foot traffic that is expected. In very busy places, like Manhattan’s avenues, 20 feet is not even enough, but most city streets do not have enough activity to demand much more than 12 feet. One of the most popular sidewalks in the world, along Ocean Drive in Miami’s South Beach, holds trees, tables, chairs, and gangs of strolling tourists in less than 16 feet. Observation might lead one to conclude that people enjoy a tight squeeze.

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© Jeff Speck 2018

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  • Jeff Speck

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