Protected footpaths consist of a separated lane for pedestrians on each side of the street. Pedestrians are protected from motor vehicles by a kerb.

Best practice footpaths

Best practice footpaths provide sufficient width so people can walk side by side, or pass others. The required width increases as a function of traffic. Yarra’s Transport Strategy targets a minimum unobstructed clear width of 2 metres, which aligns with best practice such as the NSW Walking Space Guide.

There are approximately 456 km of footpaths in Yarra, and the preferred minimum unobstructed clear width for a footpath is 2 metres. This is enough for people in wheelchairs or pushing a pram to navigate a street and pass each other.

City of Yarra Transport Strategy.
Best practice footpath widths. Image credit: Transport for NSW Walking Space Guide.

A best practice footpath continues at grade (without dropping to street level) when crossing minor side streets, using colour and texture to differentiate the footpath from the street, so drivers give way as they cross the footpath:

Image credit: WalkSydney

Best practice footpaths use quality paving on top of concrete, which resists moving or cracking (from reactive soils or tree roots), and distinguishes the footpath from the black asphalt used on the road. Finally, best practice footpaths are integrated to form a footpath network.

Quality paving at bus stop at Punt/Swan. Image credit: Streets Alive Yarra.

Reasonable effort in Yarra

Yarra is still catching up with best practice – continuous footpaths are being built but they still look like a speed bump on the road (where drivers have right of way) instead of a continuation of the footpath (where people walking have right of way). The problem is that asphalt is used on both the road and the footpath, so they look similar.

Continuous footpath - reasonable effort in Yarra
Continuous footpath in Yarra. Image credit: Streets Alive Yarra

The solution is to use concrete or high quality paving (instead of asphalt) to differentiate the footpath. Here is an example in Yarra, where paving is at least used for the crossing – even better would be to extend the paving to the footpath on each side.

Continuous footpath in Yarra with paving. Image credit: Streets Alive Yarra

Problems in Yarra

Many footpaths in Yarra need to be drastically improved. Many footpaths are too narrow, or are too sloping, cracked or uneven. Some footpaths are regularly obstructed by parked cars. Many footpaths stop at each intersection, instead of continuing at grade. WalkSpot has collated many of these issues and displayed them on their website. The results show that many people feel unsafe on our footpaths, and that many footpaths need to be improved and upgraded.

Image credit: WalkSpot


Supporters of protected footpaths include Victoria Walks and Strong Towns.

Image credit: Victoria Walks

Other information on footpaths

Learn more from our collection of pages on footpaths: