Sidewalks need to be separated from roads, have no connection
gaps, and be wide enough for people to walk side-by-side.
the Bridge Street Corridor revitalization as the centerpiece.
The city has a population of around 45,000.
“They had more jobs than people and discovered that
many recent college graduates didn’t want to live in suburbs that weren’t pedestrian friendly,” he said. “So the city,
pushed by the business community, is doing things like
re-making some of its giant parking lots. I think that’s a
Karen Parolek, a principal with Berkeley, California-based
Opticos Design, concurred with Benfield that “
destina-tional” walking is key so pedestrians can easily get to
stores, schools, restaurants, parks, public buildings and
“If a place is walkable, people will spend more money
locally because it’s easier for them to peak into a window, stop in and shop,” she said. When that happens,
the money circulates within the community much
more than if residents are buying something at a chain
store, she added.
Parolek said having a walking path “through a green space
is lovely, but that does not make a community walkable.
You really do actually have to have the destinations.”
The second major issue, she said is “always safety.”
Sidewalks need to be separated from roads, have no connection gaps, and be wide enough for people to walk
side-by-side and still be able to have someone pass them
on the sidewalk.
Moreover, traffic speeds on roads by sidewalks should be
moderated and it’s best to have separation barriers such as
parked cars so pedestrians have the perception of safety,
she added. In addition, she said narrow intersections are
best so walkers don’t have to cross many lanes of traffic.
“Bulb-outs, or curb extensions, at intersections can help,”
she noted, “because they shorten the distance where pedestrians are out in traffic. They can pull sidewalks out to
where there is parallel parking so pedestrians have safe
places to stand on the sidewalk and see moving traffic.”
If a place is walkable, people
will spend more money locally.
Adequate street lighting is also important, especially for
older adults because it increases their feelings of security, she said.
Parolek — no fan of cul de sacs — is also big on efficient sidewalk networks, which means no meandering
paths “that are best left for recreational strolling. For des-tinational walking, you want short and efficient blocks.
The longer the length of a block, the more the pedestrian
is stuck. These details make a big difference.”
Decatur's Celebration statue on the MARTA plaza
Courtesy of the city of Decatur, GA
Courtesy of The Office of TourismOhio