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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The travesty of the Earhart missed opportunity

Quote taken from Page 32 of the New Orleans Bicycle & Pedestrian Plan 2005

The process of creating the planning and engineering guidelines to meet the ADA requirements provides an
excellent opportunity to consider the overall quality and accessibility of the sidewalk system. The city of Portland’s influential Pedestrian Design Guide (1998) provides a strong, usable framework for understanding the basic components that help to create well-designed sidewalk corridors.

The guide identifies four basic zones of the sidewalk corridor area.
Stretching from the street to the property line, these zones are:
the curb zone, the furnishings zone, the through pedestrian zone, and the frontage zone.

The curb zone helps to define the pedestrian space by preventing cars from entering the area and helps to provide clues to help disabled citizens locate the edge of the street.  The furnishings zone helps to provide a buffer for pedestrians and should be the location for any utilities, signs, or street furniture. To help create an effective buffer for pedestrians, street trees should be installed where there is proper width.
The through pedestrian zone is the place where pedestrians actually travel. If the furnishings zone was properly confi gured, there should be no obstructions in this zone.

The Portland manual has several diff erent width recommendations depending on the type of district containing the sidewalk. It, for example, recommends 8 feet widths for pedestrian districts with extra width provided for high intensity areas. Finally, the frontage zone defines the edge of the sidewalk with adjacent property. This area could have a variety of uses from a sidewalk café to a landscaped edge dividing a parking lot from the sidewalk to a place for utilities that cannot be placed in the furniture zone. While many different uses can be accommodated here, care should be taken to make sure that the through pedestrian zone is kept free of objects that can block the path.

This four-zone conception of the sidewalk area provides designers and planners with an excellent way to conceptualize this space. By placing utilities and street furniture in the proper place, a continuous area is provided for pedestrians that, if designed properly, should help to meet ADA requirements. At the same time, proper design using this four-zone conception can help to create an entire sidewalk system that encourages higher levels of walking, provides a much safer design layout, and helps to create aesthetically-pleasing, well-designed places within the city.

And taken from page 33:
While it is difficult to change the entire fabric of a community at once to conform to these design guidelines, communities are advised to identify priority areas such as high-use areas and areas around important community facilities for retrofitting projects

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