Pedestrian Safety Guide and Countermeasure Selection System


Sidewalks can be categorized by four zones: curb, furniture, pedestrian, and frontage Living Streets, Page 13-16

Flickr - La Citta Vita (2010) Street furniture and walking improvements
Flickr - La Citta Vita (2010)


Flickr - Kaizer Rangwala (2011) Street furniture and walking improvements
Flickr - Kaizer Rangwala (2011)



Street Furniture/Walking Improvements

Sidewalks should be continuous and should be part of a system that provides access to goods, services, transit, and homes. Well-designed walking environments are enhanced by urban design elements and street furniture, such as benches, bus shelters, trash receptacles, and water fountains. Walking areas should be interesting for pedestrians, provide a secure environment, should be well lit, and have good sightlines.

Sidewalks can be categorized by four zones: curb, furniture, pedestrian, and frontage. The curb zone provides a barrier from the street and a transition to the street from the sidewalk. The furniture zone is where all items that could potentially block pedestrian traffic should be placed. Poles, signposts, newspaper racks, and other obstacles that could block the path, obscure a driver or pedestrian’s view, or become a tripping hazard should be placed in the furniture zone. Benches, water fountains, bicycle parking racks, and transit shelters should also be placed there. Another benefit of the furniture zone is that it provides a barrier between pedestrians and the street. The pedestrian zone is where pedestrians walk and should be at least 5 feet but preferably wider. Even wider pedestrian zones may be desirable in active areas with high volumes of pedestrian traffic. Lastly, the frontage zone provides a space between pedestrians and buildings. Pedestrians subconsciously move away from vertical faces, so the frontage zone is an important buffer area that prevents the pedestrian from feeling confined.6

Such areas must also be properly maintained and kept clear of debris, overgrown landscaping, tripping hazards, or areas where water accumulates. Snow removal is important for maintaining pedestrian safety and mobility. In most areas, local ordinances give property owners the responsibility of removing snow within 12 to 48 hours after a storm. More information on the requirements for street furniture can be found in the Draft Guidelines for Accessible Public Rights of Way5 and in the 2001 FHWA Guide by Kirschbaum.7


Streets without adequate sidewalk facilities may increase pedestrian risk. In addition, streets with sidewalks that lack a buffer or furniture zone and/or other pedestrian amenities are often viewed as unfriendly walking environments. By adding street furniture, sidewalks can be a functional and pleasant place for pedestrians.


• Provide high-quality street furniture that will show that the community values its public spaces and is more cost-effective in the long run.
• Include plans for landscape irrigation and maintenance at the outset.
• Ensure proper placement of furniture; do not block pedestrian walkway or curb ramps or obstruct sightlines.
• Ensure adequacy of overhead clearances and detectability of protruding objects for pedestrians who are blind or visually impaired.

Estimated Cost

Min. Low
Max. High
Cost Unit
# of Sources (Observations)
Street Furniture
Street Trees
Street Furniture
Street Furniture
Bus Shelter
Street Furniture
Trash/Recycling Receptacle

The cost of street furniture will vary depending on the design, style, and manufacturer for benches, bus shelters, and other street furniture, while trees will also vary in cost based on the type of tree. For other street furniture not included in the table, structures tend to be more expensive, with gazebos averaging at nearly $53,000, with a range of $36,600 to $71,600; information kiosks averaging at slightly less than $16,000; and shade shelters averaging at $30,000, with a range of $29,290 to $41,850.

Historical markers average at $3,498 with a range of $1,230 to $4,700, while newspaper racks typically cost slightly less than $6,500. Picnic tables cost around $1,683 on average with a range of $530 to $4,180 based on materials and manufacturer. Lastly, tree grates cost an average of $1,340 or between $1,400 and $3,500, while shrubs cost between $55 and $80. Street furniture removal costs are also available. Bench removal costs around $910 with a range of costs from $80 to $3,140, while bus shelter removal averages at $3,690 with a range of as low as $720 to $10,460. Costs for removing trash cans ($320 average, $130 to $520 range) and tree grates ($250 average, $52 to $890 range) are also available.

Case Studies

Clemson, SC
Eureka, CA
Oneonta, NY
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Santa Monica, CA
Madison, WI
Asheville, NC
Brooklyn, New York
New York, New York
El Cajon, California
Hendersonville, North Carolina
New York City, New York