Pedestrian connections

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A VTA light rail train station in San Jose illustrates an inviting and comfortable environment for pedestrians. Photo by Flickr user Albert's Images.

Introduction

All commuters begin and end their trips as pedestrians, so a safe, secure and pleasant pedestrian experience is an important component of any public transportation system. Agencies can work with local governments to identify and improve the quality of pedestrian connections surrounding transit stations and ensure that there are well-maintained sidewalks and safe street crossings that connect commuters to the transit station. Pedestrian connections share some of the benefits of bicycle connections.

Out of Vehicle Experience

Agencies have begun to take a more active role in improving the out-of-vehicle experience at transit stops by providing amenities that offer information and protect riders from the elements. Studies show that out-of-vehicle waiting experience can be even more important than in-vehicle experience. Bus stop spacing and location can have an important effect on whether people use transit because it will determine the catchment area of the line, or how far people will walk to arrive at stations.

Improvements to pedestrian access and connections

The provision of a comprehensive network of safe, comfortable, and secure paths for pedestrians is ultimately the responsibility of the municipalities served by transit agencies. However, the transit agency can play a supportive role in this regard. Los Angeles County Metro disperses funds through its Call for Projects, which includes dedicated funding for pedestrian improvements that "promote walking as a viable form of utilitarian travel, pedestrian safety, and an integral link within the overall transportation system."<ref>Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. "Call for Projects."</ref> Los Angeles County Metro also has a specific program for pedestrian planning and has sponsored at least one symposium in the past to promote discussion and exchange of strategies to improve the pedestrian experience.<ref>Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. "Metro's 2010 Pedestrian Planning Symposium."</ref>

Agencies may want to give careful attention to ensuring:

  • An extensive sidewalk network connects transit stations to origins and destinations.
  • Sufficient safe street crossings, because virtually every transit trip involves crossing the street at the departure or return.
  • Protection from the elements, such as shade trees along sidewalks.

For discussion of pedestrian environment at stops and stations, see the section on how to improve out-of-vehicle experience for transit users.

References

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Additional Reading

Transit Cooperative Research Program. “TCRP Report 125: Guidebook for Mitigating Fixed-Route Bus-and-Pedestrian Collisions.” 2008.

This guidebook is focused specifically on preventing or remedying dangerous situations where collisions between buses and pedestrians are likely or common. Sponsored by the Federal Transit Administration, it describes the four most common types of collisions and ways that agencies can mitigate them. The guidebook draws on commentary from stakeholders and several case studies.


WalkingInfo.org. “Pedestrian Plans.”

This website, sponsored by the US Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, maintains a running list of pedestrian and bicycle master plans. There are examples from around the country, including a technical report on creating bicycle and pedestrian facilities by Caltrans. That technical report also includes traditional and innovative practices for traffic calming.