Community Safety

Providing individuals with safer environments in which to live and work will have an impact on their lifestyle choices. Creating places where it is safe to walk or bike either as a means of transportation or simply for recreation provides a way to be physically active and promotes well-being. However, in order to encourage the use of sidewalks and shared-use paths, it is important to be sure that they are safe.

Maintenance and safety are two of the main factors to consider in planning sidewalks and shared-use paths. Facilities should be designed with safety and accessibility in mind.  Once a trail, sidewalk, or pathway is designed and constructed, it must be properly maintained (e.g., vegetation management, snow removal, sign replacement, and ADA accessibility) to ensure the safety and security of users.  Communities need to address major safety issues of walkable infrastructure, which include pedestrian-safety conflicts, user conflicts, signage, and fear of crime.  Research shows that people may avoid use of a facility if there is a perception that it is unsafe, is poorly maintained, has low usage, and/or lacks a pleasant environment. The University of Delaware’s Institute for Public Administration highlights these concerns and ways to address safety and maintenance issues in a summary report.

The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center also provides a number of resources, including ways to develop a pedestrian safe neighborhood, an image gallery that highlights problems and possible solutions in community designs, and even a way to find guest speakers on the issue of pedestrian and bike safety.