Planning Portal

Transport Assessment
Stage 2: Influencing Travel to the Development: Promoting access on foot

Walking 6,7 is the main mode of transport for many people, especially in urban areas. It is the most sustainable mode and requires relatively little investment in new infrastructure to make it attractive.  The importance of walking is often understated because the journeys are often short and it is difficult to measure.
Good access to developments on foot is very important.  Walking to a well-sited development can be significant and is also important for longer trips by public transport, which will normally begin and end with a walk. The key measures to encourage walking involve planning and designing pedestrian routes to and within the site.
It is essential that developments provide for the accessibility needs of people travelling on foot, with a mobility impairment, carrying heavy loads, escorting young children etc. Some 20% of the population have some degree of impairment 8. Detailed advice on the design of facilities for pedestrians is provided in Providing  for Journeys on Foot 9.

Pedestrian or access audits

Good pedestrian access must be planned and designed into a new development from the outset, in decisions on location, design and layout.  Safety, personal security, gradients and the needs of those with reduced mobility should be given particular priority.
Pedestrian or access audits 10 of the proposed development can help ensure access is pedestrian-friendly and provides for people with mobility impairments.  
Pedestrian access - key questions
  • Is, or could, the development become a significant attractor and generator of trips on foot? (e.g. a college, school or stadium)
  • Is the development located on existing or potential pedestrian desire lines? (e.g. between a housing estate and shops)
  • What are the likely level of pedestrian flows, at peak and off-peak times? (e.g. a cinema will have a peak flow at different times to most shops)
  • What types of pedestrians are likely to use the routes? (e.g. schools will attract young people, hospitals the elderly)

Pedestrian routes and footways

It is important to identify the existing and anticipated desire lines, crossing locations, volume and type of pedestrian activity, to influence the design of pedestrian access to the site.
Good access routes for pedestrians:
  • comprise a comprehensive, safe, direct, well-signed and well-lit network;
  • safely and comfortably accommodate considerable fluctuations in flow levels;
  • provide easy access on foot from the site to other major developments;
  • provide for personal security;
  • have pavement width (minimum 2.0m) so that pedestrians need not walk on the carriageway, and so those in wheelchairs can use them easily.  (High pedestrian flows, for example in shopping areas and adjacent to schools, will require wider footway provision);
  • are adequately surfaced with suitable drainage; and
  • avoid additional walking distances, excessive gradients or require pedestrians to walk through car parks or to follow indirect footpaths.
Some activities will attract significant peak pedestrian flows which will require special design and generous provision of space including:
  • public transport interchanges (bus, rail stations);
  • educational establishments (schools, colleges);
  • leisure activities (theatres, cinemas, night clubs, etc); and
  • sports stadia.
Pedestrian routes must be easy to negotiate by those who are blind or visually impaired or who are wheelchair users as well as those unable to walk easily.  People carrying luggage or with prams or pushchairs should also benefit from improvements to pedestrian facilities. This requires adequate pavement widths, dropped kerbs,  tactile surfaces  avoidance of steep inclines, seating at regular intervals etc.

Pedestrian crossings

Pedestrian crossings should be planned as an integral part of the development. There are several types (e.g. Zebra, Pelican): the appropriate choice will depend upon local circumstances. Crossings should either be raised or include dropped kerbs, to enable use by people with mobility impairments. Footway build-outs and refuges can also aid pedestrians to cross a road.

Improving personal security

Improving personal security should be given high priority.  Fear of crime, particularly personal assault, is a significant deterrent, especially for unaccompanied women, and after dark. The incidence and fear of crime can be reduced by:
  • more direct pedestrian routes (e.g. without underpasses, detours etc.)
  • improved or additional street lighting;
  • increasing visibility and surveillance, by removing obstructions, such as overhanging vegetation, or modifying the alignment of routes so that pedestrians are more easily seen;
  • open aspect of design; and
  • CCTV in areas such as town centres.
6 Walking Northern Ireland – An Action Plan (DRD, 2003)
7 Encouraging Walking and Cycling: Success Stories (DfT 2005)
Inclusive Mobility: a guide to best practice on access to pedestrian and transport infrastructure (DfT, 2002)
Providing for Journeys on Foot (IHT, 2000)
See Opens link in a new browser window/ for the National Register of Access Consultants or the Construction Industry Research and Information Association at Opens link in a new browser window/ for further information.
11 Guidance on the use of Tactile Paving Surfaces (DfT, 2002)
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