Are Your Sidewalks Surveyed?

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Sidewalks – an essential aspect of pedestrian safety in a community. There are countless reports available about the importance of walking as well as the importance of adequate sidewalks for pedestrian safety. The benefits of public sidewalks are immense and the provision of an adequate sidewalk network is essentially to every community.

However, the subject of sidewalks is also often a tiresome one for as well for cities as they field complaints related to lack of maintenance. There’s also the need to address gaps in the network or to ensure the proper ADA-approved ramps are in place.

Regardless, sidewalks are a subject that simply cannot be ignored.

Starting Out

But where to start on conducting a review on this important piece of infrastructure? The key is conducting a sidewalk survey. The best course of action is to utilize the expertise of an engineering consultant. They typically understand the ADA regulations that need to be met. They also have a grasp of what would be needed to correct problems and the ability to estimate the costs to correct them.

However, engineering consultants have one main drawback, their costs would be significant for such a sizeable project. There’s also something that can be said about local expertise. An out-of-town consultant is unlikely to know that the most utilized routes that kids walk to school. They are also unlikely to know what areas are the hotspots of pedestrian activity or which areas are the unsafest for pedestrians.

Conducting a sidewalk survey with local volunteers may be the most cost-effective and overall viable route to get a start on assessing the issue.

The Toolkit

For those who haven’t conducted a sidewalk survey before, AARP has the best toolkit I’ve found. It is a complete information source with complete with instructions and appendices full of usable worksheets to get the job done. The document can be found here:

AARP Sidewalk Survey Toolkit

It is a sizeable document with a host of good information. But the size can also be daunting. It is important to customize what you see to fit your own intended goals. To make the survey a simple course of action that doesn’t scare away volunteers with its complexity. As with most toolkits customization is a must to make it work best for your community.

The Aftermath

With the sidewalk survey complete, the tough work has just begun. Next, the issues that arise as a result of the survey need to be addressed. That’s where things can get tricky.


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