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Preferred Width for Sidewalk Zones

II.

Sidewalks immediately adjacent to high-volume pedestrian generators require special consideration. This includes sidewalks adjacent to transit stations, universities, major tourism and entertainment venues, and other similar locations. Appropriate sidewalk widths should be determined in consultation with the City of Boston, taking into consideration anticipated pedestrian volumes, ridership projections (for transit locations), right-of-way width, and the locations of bus shelters and transfer points. Most of Boston’s streets have considerable right-of-way constraints and the preferred widths will not always be achievable. When design requires judgment calls as to how to allocate street/sidewalk space, the following principles should be used: Curb Zone >> In the City of Boston all curbs are typically made of granite 6” wide with a 6” vertical reveal. and are Greenscape/Furnishing Zone >> Vertical objects in the Greenscape/Furnishing Zone should minimum of 18” from the face of the be set back a street curb to allow for access and prevent damage to vehicles on the street as well as greenscape elements and furniture. Pedestrian Zone >> The Americans with Disabilities Act requires a minimum 4’ clear width in the pedestrian zone (plus 5’of width every 200’ to allow wheelchairs to pass each other). >> In constrained conditions, provide a minimum 5’ wide pedestrian zone on Boulevards, Parkways, Neighborhood Residential, and Industrial street types, and an 8’ wide pedestrian zone on Downtown Commercial, Downtown Mixed-use, Neighborhood Main, and Neighborhood Connector street types.

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Boston Complete Streets Guidelines

Frontage zone

Pedestrian zone

The Frontage Zone only applies to locations with buildings adjacent to the sidewalk.

Area specifically reserved for pedestrian travel.

May accommodate >> Sidewalk cafe >> Store entrance >> Retail display >> Landscaping

Notes

Greenscape/ Furnishing zone

May accommodate

Area between the top of the curb and the front edge of the walkway

>> Only pedestrians

Notes

May accommodate

>> Width should be comfortable for anticipated use >> Well-lit and weather-proof >> Surface should be smooth, stable, slip-resistant, and should have minimal gaps, rough surfaces and vibration-causing features.

>> Street furniture >> Utility access >> Art/landscaping >> Transit zone

Notes Proposed street elements must comply with city permitting requirements and design criteria

Not needed if sidewalk corridor is adjacent to a landscaped space

Downtown Commercial

2’

12’

6’

Downtown Mixed Use

2’

10’

6’

Neighborhood Main

2’

8’

6’

Neighborhood Connector

N/A

8’

5’

Neighborhood Residential

N/A

5’

5’

Industrial Street

N/A

5’

5’

2’

N/A

N/A

Parkway

N/A

6’

10’

Boulevard

N/A

6’

10’

Shared Street

Draft -April 2011

The Americans with Disabilities Act requires a 4’ clear width in the pedestrian zone plus 5’ every 200’ to allow wheelchairs to pass each other. Boston Transportation Department

Curb zone

Boston Transportation Department

Area between the edge of the roadway and greenscape zone

Sidewalks

Sidewalks

Sidewalks should keep as much as possible to the natural path of travel, parallel to the roadway. Ideally, they will be located in a position that naturally aligns with crosswalks at intersections. It may be desirable in some locations for the pedestrian zone to curve to form a more direct route to an intersecting walkway, to preserve significant trees, or to provide a greater degree of separation between the sidewalk and the roadway for a distance.

The width and design of sidewalks will vary depending on street typology, functional classification, and demand. Below are the City of Boston’s preferred widths of each sidewalk zone according to street type:

Notes >> Concrete or granite >> Should not be “rolled” >> More extensively covered in other chapters, including curbside management (XX) and drainage (XX)

II.

Designing balanced sidewalk zone widths on Boston’s spaceconstrained street grid focuses on providing a continuous system of safe, accessible pathways for pedestrians on both sides of all streets where walking is permitted.

The greenscape zone should provide maximum buffer between pedestrians and street traffic.

Draft - April 2011

Boston Complete Streets Guidelines

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Chapter 2 Sidewalk Width Chart  

Sidewalk width