Improving walking infrastructure will encourage more people to walk around the county.
Walking provides a big health benefit to people who would normally use their cars, or people who would not go out at all. Walking is a very accessible way to exercise, and can be part of everyday life, when going to work or shopping.
Footways are usually widened by taking space from the road. The kerb is moved outwards, and the entire footway is resurfaced to give a clean finish. Sometimes land can be taken from the other side of the footway, but this can be very expensive if it isn’t owned by the Council. Footway widening allows pedestrians to walk more easily along the route, and can make their journey safer and more comfortable, particularly when in groups.
New footways can also be constructed using the same method, however, this can be more costly as there would be road drainage to consider.
A wide footway is likely to encourage more people to walk, and to walk for longer distances. Pedestrians feel less intimidated by passing traffic as they can leave a greater distance between them, making them feel safer and more comfortable. The benefit will be greatest when the footway is currently very narrow, or if there is a very high number of pedestrians and they have difficulty passing each other. Obstacles such as lamp posts can also reduce the amount of useful space on the footway.
People with reduced mobility such as wheelchair users or those using walking aids; people with push-chairs or those with sight issues will find it much easier to use a footway that provides plenty of space. A new footway would provide safe passage for pedestrians who would otherwise walk in the verge or the road.
Advantages of footways
- Provides more space for pedestrians
- Could allow space for benches, trees, or street art
- Separates pedestrians further away from vehicle traffic
Disadvantages of footways
- It may be difficult to take space from the road, which could already be quite narrow
- Taking land from the other side of the footway could be very expensive if it is owned privately
- May encourage more clutter to be placed into the footway e.g. dustbins, shop display boards
- Some drivers may be tempted to park on wide footways, because they believe there is plenty of space
- In some circumstances, there will not be enough space available to widen the footway:
- Due to the road being too busy or too narrow
- Or because land on the other side of the footway is privately owned, and would be too expensive to purchase
Cost of installation
Equipment = £17,000 - £22,000
Works = £6,000 - £10,000
Total costs = £23,000 - £32,000
Please note that costs are for 80 metres of new footway and are highly variable, depending on the land being used, drainage requirements and utilities in the area. The costs to widen an existing footway will be much cheaper.
Guardrails are barriers placed at the edges of footways to stop pedestrians walking into the road. In the last 10 years, guardrails have become less popular because there is no clear evidence of a safety benefit, and they have a negative impact on accessibility and city feeling for pedestrians.
Overall, evidence about guardrails does not show a high safety benefit. Studies concluded there was very little difference in collision numbers between sites with and sites without guardrails. This applied to both vehicle and pedestrian collisions.
Guardrails can be useful to channel pedestrians to crossing points and to stop people accidentally walking into the road. However, the evidence shows these benefits do not outweigh other issues created by guardrails. Guardrails can obscure the view between drivers and pedestrians, which can prevent them taking action to avoid a collision.
Road designs which remove clutter, such as guardrails, from streets are increasingly recognised for the positive effect they have on the street appearance and feel. This encourages sustainable transport modes, such as walking and cycling.
To improve pedestrian safety, other measures which have proven safety effects should be used first, for example a reduction in the speed limit in conjunction with traffic calming measures. An exception to this could be where a pathway meets a road, from an alleyway, or school entrance for example - in these instances, a small section of guardrail opposite the pathway prevents pedestrians (especially children) continuing forward into the road.
Advantages of pedestrian guardrails
- Can be effective at channelling pedestrians towards designated crossing points
- Prevents pedestrians accidentally straying into the road (e.g. intoxicated pedestrians)
Disadvantages of pedestrian guardrails
- Drivers cannot see pedestrians as easily through guardrailing, especially child pedestrians. This means drivers are less ready to stop for pedestrians if they walk into the road at a crossing point
- Prevents free movement of pedestrians around the city.
- Guardrailing is intrusive and detrimental to the look and feel of streets
- Footway width is reduced when guardrailing is installed
- Some pedestrians may climb over guardrailing, which creates a further safety risk
- Cyclists could become crushed against guardrailing if they collide with a motor vehicle
- Guardrailing is often damaged by motor vehicles or heavy goods vehicles, so it can be very expensive to maintain
- The footway must be wide enough to accommodate the guardrail and pedestrians
Cost of installation
Equipment = £250 - £1,000
Works = £650 - £1,500
Total cost = £900 - £2,500
Please note that cost is per 2 metre section of rail and depends on the type of rail used.