February& March 2012
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New Sidewalk Policy Under Consideration

In an on-going effort to improve safe options for pedestrians, the Pedestrian and Bikeways Committee of TMACOG has developed a regional sidewalk policy. As more communities look at “complete streets” strategies, the policy provides helpful advice for incorporating walking infrastructure (sidewalks and curb cuts). The policy has been prepared as a guide to best practices for the use of jurisdictions in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan. It is not a law or regulation, and it is coordinated with other design documents.

One important reason for including sidewalks in a new development or adding sidewalks where there aren’t any, is to create safe spaces for children walking to school. As communities reduce bus service to children living a certain distance from a school or to students of a certain age, more young people are finding their own way by foot or by bike. The guidelines of the Safe Routes to Schools Program have emphasized the need for the construction of sidewalks on school walking routes. Other aspects of sidewalk design include placement of manholes and utilities, accessibility for people with disabilities, clearance above and to the sides of sidewalks, and connecting sidewalks so that a walker isn’t stranded where a sidewalk ends.

TMACOG’s Pedestrian and Bikeways Committee approved the policy at its January 17 meeting. The next step is consideration by the Transportation Council and the Executive Committee in February. When approved, the policy will be published online and freely available.

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