Best walkability tools from favorite sources
These are our favorites, both current and helpful. Help us add to and amend these resources by dropping us a line and letting us know what new studies, guides and organizations you find most helpful.
THE 2016 BENCHMARKING REPORT OF WALKING AND BICYCLING: This report was funded by the CDC and conducted by a team of researchers and professionals who work with these topics daily in various fields of study.
WASHINGTON STATE ACTIVE TRANSPORTATION PLAN: One of the most current and comprehensive State plans, it focuses primarily on engineering questions—what makes a good network—and whether such facilities are available on State routes. The analysis centers on population centers, noting the importance of continuing examination of state routes in more rural areas.
ACTIVE TRANSPORTATION TRANSFORMS AMERICA: Across rural, suburban and urban America, there are opportunities to shift short trips from driving to walking and biking by creating safe active transportation networks. This Rails-to-Trails publication unlocks many of the gates blocking progress.
INTRODUCTION TO MULTI-MODAL TRANSPORTATION PLANNING: PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICES: This research by Todd Litman summarizes basic principles for transportation planning. It describes conventional transport planning, which tends to focus on motor vehicle traffic conditions, and newer methods for more multi-modal planning and evaluation.
ACTIVE TRANSPORTATION AND PARKS AND RECREATION: This report by NPRA gives a broad overview of the role of active transportation. For the purposes of this paper, the benefits of active transportation are categorized into economic, health, conservation and social equity categories.
ACTIVE TRANSPORTATION BEYOND URBAN CENTERS: This is a very helpful document for Walking and Bicycling in Small Towns and Rural America, produced by the Rails to Trails Conservancy. People assume biking and walking are strictly for big cities, but a new analysis of the latest Federal data tells a much different story.
PEDESTRIAN AND BICYCLE TRANSPORTATION ALONG EXISTING ROADS—ACTIVETRANS PRIORITY TOOL GUIDEBOOK: This guidebook presents the ActiveTrans Priority Tool (APT), a step-by-step methodology for prioritizing pedestrian and bicycle improvements along existing roads. The APT is intended to be used by planners and other agency staff charged with managing a pedestrian or bicycle prioritization effort. It is designed to encourage practitioners to prioritize pedestrian and bicycle improvement locations by establishing a clear prioritization process.
COMPLETE STREETS POLICIES AND GUIDES
Small Town and Rural Multimodal Networks (FHWA): This guide translates existing street design guidance and facility types for bicycle and pedestrian safety and comfort for the smaller scale places not addressed in guides such as the NACTO Street Design Guide and ITE Walkable Urban Thoroughfares report. The guide provides clear examples of how to interpret and apply design flexibility to improve bicycling and walking conditions.
PLANNING COMPLETE STREETS FOR AN AGING AMERICA: AARP was the host for the initial Complete Streets movement. This well researched and written 2009 document withstands the passage of time. Through research, analysis, and dialogue with the nation’s leading experts, this document, developed by the AARP Public Policy Institute (PPI) promotes development of sound, creative policies to address our common need for economic security, health care, and quality of life.
THE BEST COMPLETE STREETS POLICIES OF 2018: In 2018, 66 communities across the United States demonstrated their commitment to providing safe access to destinations for everyone, regardless of age, ability, income, race, ethnicity, or mode of travel.
RETHINKING STREETS: This new book uses evidence from completed street projects from around the United States in order to help communities imagine alternative futures for their streets. The book does not show hypothetical street re-designs, but actual examples from typical communities to show how they did what they did and see what resulted from the change.
MEASURING WALKABILITY – A GUIDE FOR COUNCILS: “The Guide to Measuring Walking, produced by Victoria, Australia, one of the most livable cities in the world, helps make measuring walking activity relatively straightforward and affordable for councils. The guide helps us understand why measuring walking is important and how data can be used to improve walking. It also provides an understanding of the methods and technologies available to measure walking. and even a sample walking participation survey.”
DEVELOPING A WALKING STRATEGY: Also produced by Victoria, Australia. “A good walking strategy helps create an environment where all types of walking are supported, meeting transport, health and planning objectives.” It also helps ensure that walking is prioritized in transport and strategic planning, increasing its integration with other modes of transport, improving the safety of walking and raising its profile within municipalities.
VICTORIAN WALKING SURVEY: Victoria Walks conducted the Victorian Walking Survey to hear from people about walking, 20-Minute Neighbourhoods and potential government action. The survey results were used to help develop Investing in Walking – a step forward for Victoria’s environment, economy and health.
VICTORIA WALKS’ PROPOSALS FOR GOVERNMENT ACTION: A short one-page document that follows The Victorian Walking Surveydemonstrated strong public support for action to provide better walking conditions. Three-quarters of people said the government should make it safer and easier to walk to local shops.
INVESTING IN WALKING: This document addresses walking, Victoria, Australia’s second most common form of transport after the car and the most popular recreation. It notes how lack of strategy and of investment in recent decades has meant walking benefits have not been shared equally, with many neighbourhoods and streets not conducive to active living, and then it provides that missing strategy.
CITY OF CAMBRIDGE PEDESTRIAN PLAN: In 2000 Cambridge, Massachusetts released its pedestrian plan. This document has survived the test of time and 24 years later remains the all-time classic.
PEDESTRIAN DESIGN, SAN DIEGO: Published in 2002, this document remains relevant, well-illustrated and well written.
COMPLETE NEIGHBORHOODS, THE 15-MINUTE NEIGHBORHOOD
LIVABILITY FACT SHEETS: BY AARP The 11 Livability Fact Sheets were created in partnership by AARP Livable Communities and the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute. The two organizations shared the goal of helping towns, cities and communities nationwide to become safer, healthier, more walkable and overall livable for people of all ages. This package of 11 comprehensive, easy-to-read livability resources, the fact sheets can be used individually or as a collection by community leaders, policy makers, citizen activists and others to learn about and explain what makes a city, town or neighborhood a great place to live.
A HANDBOOK FOR IMPROVED NEIGHBORHOODS – ENABLING BETTER PLACES: A HANDBOOK FOR IMPROVED NEIGHBORHOOODS: Provides options for communities to consider as they identify and select small-scale, incremental policy changes that can be made without overhauling entire zoning codes and land use policies.
THE 15-MINUTE CITY: The 15-Minute City is partly derived from historical concepts of neighborhood design, mixed-use, population density, and pedestrian friendliness as laid out by Jane Jacobs in‚ ‘The Death and Life of Great American Cities‘. The 15-Minute City framework of this model has four components: density, proximity, diversity, and digitization.
LIVABLE COMMUNITIES: CREATING SAFE AND LIVABLE NEIGHBORHOODS, TOWNS, AND REGIONS IN CALIFORNIA: “A “livable” neighborhood can be defined as one that is “pleasant, safe, affordable, and supportive of human community.” Key elements of community livability often include an attractive, pedestrian-oriented public realm; low traffic speed, volume, and congestion; decent, affordable, and well-located housing; convenient schools, shops, and services; accessible parks and open space; a clean natural environment; places that feel safe and accepting to a diverse range of users; the presence of meaningful cultural, historical, and ecological features; and friendly, community-oriented social environments.
WALKING AUDITS, WALKING WORKSHOPS
WALKABILITY WORKBOOK: The Walkability Workshop provides targeted technical assistance to improve walkability. This workbook guides facilitators and planners through planning, marketing and delivery of workshops and walking audits. The guide provides all stages of event planning, facilitation, conducting and measuring the success of an audit and more.
WALKING AUDIT SUPPORTING INFORMATION: Planning to do a walking audit of your streets? Here are some helpful suggestions from Victoria Walks to help get you started.
AARP WALK AUDIT TOOL KIT: A self-service guide for assessing a community’s walkability. “Too many communities in the United States are designed exclusively or almost exclusively for automobile travel, with very little consideration given to the needs of pedestrians. Among the factors that discourage or outright prevent people from walking: multilane roadways, high-speed corridors that are unsafe to cross, a lack of street maintenance, a scarcity of sidewalks.”
TRAFFIC CALMING MYTH BUSTER: This AARP publication notes, “Since the advent of the automobile, most streets in the U.S. have been designed primarily for cars — fast-moving cars. Streets and parking now take up 25 to 50 percent of all public space in cities. Unfortunately, roadways designed to move traffic at high speeds undermine the historic functions of streets to help people interact and get around, regardless of their mode of transit. Smarter transportation design moves traffic while keeping communities safe and connected.”
RECOMMENDED GUIDELINES/PRIORITIES FOR SIDEWALKS AND WALKWAYS: Developed by PEDSAFE, this document emphasizes well-designed, safe places for people to walk along all public rights-of-way. How this will be accomplished will depend upon the type of road, whether it is new construction or a retrofitted area, and funding availability.
SIDEWALKS | A LIVABILITY FACT SHEET (AARP): This 4-page, illustrated myth busting fact sheet helps overcome the resistance developers and elected leaders may have to build sidewalks.
NACTO: URBAN STREET DESIGN GUIDE, CROSSINGS, MIDBLOCK CROSSINGS AND PEDESTRIAN SAFETY ISLANDS: This portion of this document summarizes the importance, challenge, complexities and basics of getting pedestrians across the street. This well-illustrated guide starts with the fundamentals of marked crossings at intersections, then expands to midblock treatments and safety islands (medians). This includes important topics, like pedestrian desire lines and crosswalk spacing criteria based on human behavior.
CROSSING POLICY GUIDELINES (SALINAS, CALIFORNIA): The Crosswalk Policy Guidelines are aimed at improving pedestrian safety and enhancing pedestrian mobility. Designing a safe roadway crossing for pedestrians is a complex process; the installation of crosswalk striping alone does not necessarily constitute a safe pedestrian crossing.
PEDESTRIAN CROSSING TREATMENT INSTALLATION GUIDELINES: The decision to travel as a pedestrian is in part subject to the pedestrian’s ability and perceived ability to safely and efficiently cross roadways along the travel route. With this in mind, the City of Boulder has established this document to provide a set of criteria, procedures, and policies to guide the installation of crossing treatments. The Pedestrian Crossing Treatment Installation Guidelines are intended to provide a consistent procedure for considering the installation of crossing treatments where needed on a case-by-case basis in the City of Boulder.
NORTH CAROLINA: PEDESTRIAN CROSSING GUIDANCE: This document provides guidance to NCDOT on when to consider marking crosswalks at uncontrolled approaches for pedestrians, installing pedestrian signal heads at existing signalized intersections, or providing supplemental treatments at a crossing location. A key deliverable is a crosswalk assessment flowchart, which is intended to be a self-contained, wall-mounted poster that fully describes most aspects of the evaluation and decision-making process.
FDOT: TREATMENTS FOR PEDESTRIAN CROSSWALKS AT MIDBLOCK AND UNSIGNALIZED INTERSECTIONS: This FDOT Traffic Engineering Manual section establishes criteria and guidelines for installation and operation of pedestrian treatments at midblock and unsignalized intersections on the State Highway System. These treatments include marked pedestrian crosswalks, signs, traffic control devices, and other measures. The document provides procedures, selection criteria, criteria for beacons and signals, and treatment options.
CLARK COUNTY, WASHINGTON PEDESTRIAN CROSSING TREATMENT POLICY: The Clark County Pedestrian Crossing Treatment Policy includes decision-making guidelines and a Pedestrian Crossing Treatment Decision Tree to identify the appropriate crossing treatment. This policy is intended to inform and guide developers and County staff. Many helpful illustrations are also provided.
IMPROVING PEDESTRIAN SAFETY AT UNSIGNALIZED CROSSINGS: This report includes selected engineering treatments to improve safety for pedestrians crossing high-volume, high-speed roadways at unsignalized intersections, in particular on roads served by public transportation. This includes recommend modifications to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) pedestrian traffic signal warrant. Also includes a review of pedestrian crossing treatments.
COUNTERMEASURE TECH SHEET: RECTANGULAR RAPID FLASHING BEACON (RRFB): Federal Highway Administration. (2018). Countermeasure Tech Sheet: RRFB A two-page technical sheet on the purpose, operations considerations, costs and applications of an RRFB.
PEDESTRIAN HYBRID BEACON (PHB) GUIDE RECOMMENDATIONS AND CASE STUDY:
This Federal Highway Administration Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon Guide Recommendations and Case Study (2014) explains the uses, guidance, design, best locations and results for PHBs, which have been shown to significantly reduce pedestrian crashes. It references a FHWA study published in 2010 which found that PHBs can reduce pedestrian crashes by 69 percent and total crashes by 29 percent.
WSDOT: UNCONTROLLED PEDESTRIAN CROSSING GUIDANCE: Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT). (2019). This guidance is for pedestrian crossings at locations where no traffic control is present, such as locations without a stop sign, signal, or roundabout.
Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon Guide– Recommendations and Case Study: A pedestrian hybrid beacon (PHB) is a traffic control device similar to a European pedestrian signal (PELICAN) that was imported to the US and adapted by engineers in Arizona to increase motorists’ awareness of pedestrian crossings at uncontrolled marked crosswalk locations. A PHB is distinct from pre-timed traffic signals and constant flash warning beacons because it is only activated by pedestrians when needed.
RETHINKING STREETS FOR BIKES: Rethinking Streets for Bikes highlights high-quality street retrofit projects that prioritize bicycle transportation. Each case study includes information for key stakeholders, including transportation engineers, planners, policy makers, and community members. The case studies are diverse; there are seven different project types in cities across the United States and Canada.
SHARED PATHS, THE ISSUES: “Generally, existing footpaths should not be converted to shared paths and new suburbs should not be designed with shared paths rather than footpaths. Road managers should understand that by converting footpaths to shared paths, they may be ‘designing out’ the most vulnerable road users– older walkers and those with a disability.”
CAMBRIDGE BICYCLE PLAN: Out of the many local bicycle plans North America has produced we feature Cambridge, Mass, the best of the best. “The Cambridge Bicycle Plan lays out a vision for where we as a city want to be. The fundamental guiding principle for this plan is to enable people of all ages and abilities to bicycle safely and comfortably throughout the city. This Plan provides the framework for developing a network of Complete Streets and supporting programs and policies that will help meet this goal.” For awareness of how holistic, complete and current this plan is, check out this 8 minute
PORTLAND PROTECTED BICYCLE LANE PLANNING AND DESIGN GUIDE: We chose this guide above all others due to Portland’s pioneering work with having built studied and refined advanced bicycling treatments. Protected bicycle lanes are to be Portland’s preferred design where separation is appropriate. This guide was developed to provide planners, engineers and project managers the tools necessary to implement a protected bikeway network in Portland.
BICYCLE FACILITY SELECTION A COMPARISON OF APPROACHES: This report analyses more than 20 national, state, and local manuals that have been developed to provide guidance as to when one type of facility is recommended over another, and it shows that there are some general ranges within which this type of decision can be made. The guide helps answer, “When is a striped bike lane the appropriate design solution rather than a simple shared lane or a multi-use path? At what traffic speed or volume does a shared lane cease to provide the level of comfort sought by most bicyclists?”
ACCESS, ADA, UNIVERSAL DESIGN
DESIGNING SIDEWALKS AND TRAILS FOR ACCESS, PART I OF II: Designing sidewalks for access enhances the overall quality of the pedestrian experience and improves the mobility of people with disabilities. Sidewalks and trails serve as critical links in the transportation network providing pedestrian access to commercial districts, schools, businesses, government offices, and recreation areas. Because sidewalks and trails provide such fundamental services to the public, they should be designed to meet the needs of the maximum number of potential users. Unfortunately, many sidewalks and trails do not adequately meet the needs of people with disabilities, who constitute nearly one-fifth of the American population (U.S. Census Bureau, 1994).
DESIGNING SIDEWALKS AND TRAILS FOR ACCESS, PART II OF II: When the environment meets the needs of the most vulnerable users, the system is better for everyone. In addition to people with disabilities, many other people benefit from accessible sidewalks and trails.
VISION ZERO, SAFE SYSTEM APPROACH
STRATEGIES TO COORDINATE ZERO DEATHS EFFORTS FOR STATE AND LOCAL AGENCIES: Vision Zero is based on the Safe System Approach which acknowledges that roadway users make mistakes and that transportation agencies should design road systems and adopt related policies to ensure those mistakes do not result in serious injuries or fatalities. In the U.S., zero deaths initiatives are often referred to as Vision Zero, Toward Zero Deaths, or Road to Zero. Regardless of the title, each initiative advocates for agencies to align with the Safe System Approach.
VISION ZERO IMPLEMENTATION TOOLKIT: This toolkit addresses the rationale for Vision Zero, community engagement considerations and strategies, data collection and analysis, how to leverage task forces and advisory groups, key elements of an action plan, equitable enforcement, evaluation, and the legal issue of preemption. ChangeLab Solutions developed this toolkit to support local jurisdictions in equitably and effectively implementing their Vision Zero policies.
IMPLEMENTATION MILESTONE CHECKLIST: North Carolina developed this 2-page Vision Zero Implementation Milestones Checklist, rooted in the science of program implementation, offers a series of phases and milestones toward fully implementing Vision Zero in your community.
GREEN STREETS, TREES, AND SHADE
URBAN STREET TREES: This 21-page well illustrated document focuses on the value of urban street trees to overcome an over-abundance of pavement, as a speed reducing and placemaking tool, as an economic engine for home values, and more.