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 footpath design

The Global Street Design Guide describes how to design a best practice footpath, including “provide sufficient width, 1.8–2.4 m, so two people using wheelchairs can comfortably pass each other. In shopping streets with heavy pedestrian volumes the width should be 2.4–4.5 m.”

A best practice footpath is also a continuous footpath (or continuous footway) across side streets, where it’s clear to drivers that the street has finished and they need to give way as they cross the footpath:

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.

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

Finally, best practice footpaths are integrated to form a footpath network.

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 high quality paving on the footpath and extend the paving across the side street. Here is an example in Yarra, where paving is at least used for the crossing – even better would be to also use paving on the footpath, and link them together.

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: