Monday, April 5, 2021

Challenging, Better, Best. Sidewalks, Driveways, Laneways and Pedestrian Safety

Over the last year, I’ve walked to more places, more frequently in Langley City than any other previous year. I’ve seen various styles of interfaces between sidewalks and driveways, laneways, and intersections. These interfaces cover the 65+ years of Langley City’s existence.

It has been encouraging to see that each new generation of sidewalk and street design makes walking a more accessible, safe, and pleasant experience.

This first example shows a sidewalk letdown to a driveway. From a safety perspective, this design signals to people who are driving that they have priority. This psychological signal results from the sidewalk dropping down to the driveway. People walking have to be on high alert.

A challenging design where a sidewalk and lane meet. Select image to enlarge.

From an accessibility perspective, the driveway’s sharp letdown can make it challenging for people with limited mobility or who use mobility aids such as walkers or scooters to navigate.

The second example is a common interface between a driveway or laneway and a sidewalk in Langley City. This design is better than the first because it signals to people driving that people walking have priority.

A better design where a sidewalk and lane meet. Select image to enlarge.

An example of this design in action is the lane between the TELUS Building and Federal Building/RCMP Office on 204th Street. There used to be a stop sign where the lane met 204th Street, but someone drove into the sign years ago. The City never replaced the stop sign. People who are driving stop at the intersection without thinking because they see the sidewalk.

The design can still be challenging for people with limited mobility or mobility aids due to the angle and texture of the sidewalk.

The final example is the best design. The design explicitly sends the psychological signal that walking is the priority mode of travel because the driveway raises to the sidewalk. The sidewalk is smooth and flat, making it easy to navigate for all people.

The best design where a sidewalk and driveway meet. Select image to enlarge.

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