Installing a sidewalk can be easy or complicated, but it typically boils down to funding. Below are a few tips to help guide you to getting your sidewalk built. First you need to find out who owns the street (City, County, State, etc.). Then you need to check for two very important things:
- right-of-way: Is there enough public right of way on your street to fit a sidewalk? The state standard sidewalk width is 5′ so you will first need to check to make sure that there is 5′ of public right of way along the roadside where the sidewalk can be installed. There are several ways to find out where the public right-of-way line is. You can contact your municipality and request the line be staked out, which could take a week or so. Or, in most cases, telephone or utility poles are located at the edge of the public right of way, so if there is at least 5′ between the roadway, and a public utility poles then it is likely a sidewalk can be installed easily.
- drainage: In Florida, drainage is critical. Does your street have piped storm drains (curb and gutter), or does the rain water on the roadway slope into a ditch? If there is already piped storm drains, and there is enough right-of-way (see #1), then it will be easier to build a sidewalk. If there is an open ditch on the side of the road, it will likely need to be piped and covered before a sidewalk can be installed. Keep in mind: drainage work dramatically increases the cost of a typical sidewalk project, which can make-or-break your project.
- get informed: Talk to the governmental entity who owns the roadway. If you don’t already know who that is, click here to find out. There may be information you are unaware of that will be useful. Typically the local transportation division or department will be able to tell you if there are any future plans or if your street is on a list of future projects. If there are not any plans, they can record your request and help you get your project on the list.
- community support: Neighborhood support is crucial in getting a sidewalk built. It’s a good idea to make sure your neighbors are supportive before taking any more steps. A petition or letter of support from a neighborhood association, or a community group, will help bolster your case. The more people who support your project, the more likely it will happen.
Bike lanes come in many shapes, sizes and varieties. But each area might have its own standard. To learn more about the various types of cycling infrastructure, click here raquo; Below are some general guidelines to follow when you are interested in requesting bike lanes on your street.
Bike lanes are a little more complicated than sidewalks. The easiest way to install bike lanes is if you can fit them on the existing pavement without having to widen the pavement (pavement markings only). That doesn’t work on every road, though. If the lane widths on your street are 14′ wide or more (measuring from the center of the roadway, to the edge of the asphalt, then it is likely that bike lanes can be incorporated by just adding striping. If the lanes on your street are less than 14′, then consider requesting a shared-lane marking (also referred to as sharrows).
Note: If the pavement is old and cracking, then the new markings probably won’t stick, so striping the lanes could be a waste of time and money. You might need to wait until the roadway is resurfaced in order to incorporate the new markings.
Crosswalks (also referred to as pedestrian crossings) are different from bicycle lanes and sidewalks, in that they are not meant to be placed everywhere. This is because crosswalks are planned conflict points and the design and analysis that goes into determining where a crosswalk is placed, what types of engineering treatments will be installed (signs, markings, flashing lights, etc.), in order to achieve the highest level of safety for people crossing the roadway. Here are some key things to remember about crosswalks, before you decide to request one from your local government:
- Simply installing pavement markings and signs alone do not guarantee safety. In fact, studies show that signs and markings alone (without additional treatments like lights, signals and enforcement) can actually decrease safety and increase crashes because signs and markings can give a pedestrian a false sense of security.
- If you are interested in installing a crosswalk in your community, you may request an engineering study to be completed by your local municipality or the entity who owns the roadway. In the study, they will evaluate if a designated crosswalk is needed, find a location where there is adequate visibility and sight distance for cars, and determine the most cost-efficient design to generate the highest level of safety. Depending on the design, this may include flashing warning lights that are activated by a push-button, or a traffic signal that brings cars to a complete stop.
- When crossing the roadway (even at a crosswalk), never assume you have the right of way. Always make eye contact with drivers and wait for the car in each lane to stop before stepping out. If there is a crosswalk nearby, use it! If there is not, you may cross at a side street intersection. Stand in a visible location and watch for approaching traffic. Be sure to give yourself enough time to cross.