Everyone is a pedestrian for at least part of every trip, even if that trip is not counted in studies as a pedestrian trip. This makes walking the most prominent mode by far even though its prominence is never measured accurately. Walking is also the mode of last resort when cars break down, busses are missed or other transportation choices fall through. Pedestrians are the most unprotected roadway users and, in most countries, represent an unwarranted percentage of traffic fatalities. If transportation planning included these considerations, all transportation projects would be required to include safe, connecting pedestrian provisions. Unfortunately, this is not the case in most places.
At One Street, we see the needs of bicyclists and pedestrians as inseparable. To provide a lovely bike lane and forget about pedestrian accommodations will doom that bike lane to be used by both, thus endangering both. This also goes for providing only for pedestrians. If bicyclists have no safe place to ride they will choose to ride on the sidewalk because colliding with pedestrians is much less threatening than colliding with cars. Needless to say, this is not popular with pedestrians!
So understanding and providing for the needs of pedestrians is not only paramount to sound transportation systems, it is necessary to quality provisions for bicyclists. As with bicycle provisions, the best place to start is with the most vulnerable. Young, old and disabled pedestrians require more room on sidewalks, more time to cross streets and smoother surfaces than other pedestrians. Providing wide, smooth sidewalks and short street crossings for these vulnerable users has the additional benefit of creating a beautiful street for all. These are the streets we are drawn to, where we want to linger, shop and enjoy our friends. Take a look at this comparison chart and consider where the streets of your community would fall.
Try this cool walkability scoring site to see how your favorites places in the United States rate for walking: http://www.walkscore.com/
This graphic picture demonstrates the result of most of our pedestrian facilities from the perspective of pedestrians ->
Below are some resources to help you turn your community into a place where the most vulnerable pedestrians feel like royalty and never fear for their lives, even as they step into the streets, THEIR streets:
FHWA's Walkable Community two-page demo on pedestrian solutions - an excellent example from the U.S. (of all places!):
This video tells an inspiring story of turning a dangerous street in Curitiba, Brasil into a pedestrian haven:
Some cities are so dangerous for pedestrians only a superhero can protect them like Mexico City's Defender of Pedestrians.