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

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. The Walking Space Guide from Transport for NSW offers guidelines for five types of footpaths, ranging from 2 metres wide on local streets to 4.5 metres wide on busy shopping streets.

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: