Yarra footpath widths

Yarra has adopted an ‘Encouraging and Increasing Walking‘ policy document:

Council’s responsibility is in providing a high-class pedestrian environment to ensure that those people who wish to walk can do so easily and safely.

Yarra Encouraging and Increasing Walking 2005
Image credit: City of Yarra

The policy identifies that investment in infrastructure is a key action. However, many footpaths are too narrow to be considered ‘high-class’ or ‘safe’. A high quality pedestrian environment would comply with best practice guides, such as the recommendations of the NSW Walking Space Guide:

Image credit: NSW Government

Council has an asset management system that includes data on footpath width. Streets Alive Yarra obtained a dataset from council in 2018, and generated this histogram:

Image credit: Streets Alive Yarra

The chart is a histogram showing the width of footpath segments across Yarra, as defined by Council’s asset management system. Many street segments have incorrect or missing data, resulting in the footpath being allocated a width of 0 metres. For this reason, the first bar is greyed out. The segments coloured red represent footpaths that are narrower than Council’s target of 1.5 metres. The yellow segments are narrower than the minimum recommended width of 2.0 metres, from the NSW Walking Space Guide. Hardly any of our main shopping streets have a footpath width of 4.5 metres, as recommended by the NSW guide.

What council can do

Council can progressively widen footpaths by reclaiming space from on-street parking. Alternatively, council can calm traffic and then convert streets to shared zones, where people can walk on the asphalt, sharing space with people who are driving. Revenue to fund such infrastructure investments is readily available.

Learn more

Learn more from our collection of pages on footpaths:

Published 4th January 2021.