The Big Picure: Your Study. Your Vision. Your Plan for the City of Huntsville

Sidewalks

In the past, making a network that functioned well for automobile traffic was the prime driver in designing for transportation. Now, sidewalks are an invaluable amenity.

Vision

  • All residential neighborhoods have a walkable component, either a complete sidewalk network, low-speed streets, ready access to nearby greenways, or a combination thereof.
  • Every school-aged child within walking distance of an elementary, middle, or high school has a safe and comfortable walking route to their respective school.
  • Neighborhood commercial nodes/corridors, local parks, and recreation areas are connected to the adjacent residential areas via safe, comfortable sidewalks.
  • Sidewalks are appropriate for their context; larger streets and busier corridors have greater buffers and wider sidewalks.

Summary

In the latter half of the 20th century, the focus of most development patterns was the car.  Making a network that functioned well for automobile traffic was the prime driver in designing for transportation.  In turn, the inclusion of sidewalks was often set aside, generally with the belief that there would no longer be a public interest in walking anywhere.  Over the past few decades, we’ve come to see that approach as something of a mistake.

 

While new neighborhoods are being built with sidewalks, many of our older residential areas still lack them.  By reintroducing sidewalks into core neighborhoods, many benefits can be achieved:

 

  • Communities with sidewalks typically have and maintain higher relative property values;
  • Car use for local trips can be reduced;
  • People who chose to walk (particularly seniors and the disabled) can do so in safety;
  • Businesses can benefit from better access to potential customers;
  • Senior citizens who walk 30 minutes daily experience significantly better health outcomes as they age;
  • Childhood obesity can be reduced with daily walking; among many others.

 

With a renewed focus on community health, sidewalks become an invaluable amenity for their neighborhoods.