Safe Routes Scoop

Increasing Pedestrian Safety and Mobility in Suburban Areas

While important, sidewalks alone generally are not enough, offering little to address the needs of bicyclists and not enough to meet the needs of pedestrians. Even if every street has sidewalks, they often don’t lead to any desired destinations due to the circuitous street network common in many suburbs. Most residential subdivisions are separated from neighboring properties by barriers such as walls and are typically laid out with limited access points. To reach neighboring subdivisions, pedestrians often must walk hundreds of feet out of their way to a collector street. 

 

By incorporating more direct pedestrian connections between adjoining land uses, municipalities can enhance access to destinations such as schools, parks, shopping, and community facilities. By providing short cuts that are unavailable to motorists, communities can make walking and bicycling a safer and more attractive option to residents.  Examples of this idea put into action can be found in Seattle, and in New Jersey, in Gloucester County communities and Bernards Township.

 

Urban Trails in Seattle          

Seattle has been a national leader in the development of urban trail systems. The city’s bicycle program has been steadily developing an urban trail system which includes shared use paths, bike lanes, signed

bike routes, arterials with wide shoulders, and pedestrian pathways. Currently, Seattle has about 28 miles of shared use paths, 22 miles of on-street, striped bike lanes, and about 90 miles of signed bike routes.

 

The city adopted its first Bicycle Master Plan in 1972. The oil shortages of 1973 and 1979 boosted interest in bicycling, while railroad downsizing beginning in the 1970s provided abandoned right-of-way that the city was able to develop into multi-purpose trails through the 1990s. The trail system has proven extremely popular among residents and visitors to the city alike. 

 

The Seattle Bicycle Master Plan envisions a comprehensive network of on- and off-street bicycle routes that connect all parts of the city, providing convenient access to transit stations, workplaces, parks, commercial areas and many other destinations. When completed in 2016, Seattle will have established a bicycle network linking neighborhoods and activity centers, as well as connections to recreational and natural areas within the Puget Sound region.

 

Gloucester County, NJ Multi-Use Trails Network Study

To offer suburban residents an alternative to viewing their communities from behind a windshield, Gloucester County asked the Delaware Valley Regional Planning
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