Paved paths connect cul-de-sacs in this community.
A child who lives a stones throw from a school must be driven or bussed if there is not a connection between home and the school.
The connectivity of various bicycle and pedestrian facilities directly impacts the ability to walk or bicycle to school. Characteristics of a well-connected road or path network include short block lengths, numerous three and four-way intersections and minimal dead-ends (cul-de-sacs). As connectivity increases, travel distance decreases and route options increase. A network of streets, sidewalks, bicycle lanes and paths in which all parts are well-connected to each other reduces the distance children have to travel to get from home to school, allows for the use of more local streets rather than major roadways and provides a greater choice of routes to travel to and from school.
Street layout directly impacts the ability to walk or bicycle to school. Frequently, the layout of subdivision streets makes distances much longer than they need to be. Long neighborhood block lengths and cul-de-sacs contribute to this problem. Neighborhoods that are designed with long blocks and numerous cul-de-sacs are often barriers to walking and bicycling to school as they reduce connectivity and increase travel distance between the home and school.
The diagram above on the left illustrates a street layout based on a grid system, and the diagram on the right illustrates a layout which consists of many dead end streets with few exits or entrances. The diagram on the left provides a greater street connectivity than the diagram on the right. A trip from home to school for a child who lives in the neighborhood on the left is feasible on foot or by bicycle. It features a short distance using local streets, with no major streets to navigate. For the child who lives in the neighborhood on the right, the trip is longer and takes place mostly on busy streets. As a result, many parents will choose to drive their child to school which will overburden the arterial street system and create unnecessary traffic congestion at the school.
To help solve the cul-de-sac issue, connector paths between cul-de-sacs and other destinations can be constructed in one of three ways including;
- At the time when the subdivision is first developed,
- As a voluntary retrofit, or
- As a mandatory retrofit when the property is sold or redeveloped.
Connectivity is an important consideration when making a community walkable.
Another potential solution is to create zoning ordinances that prohibit or limit the number of cul-de-sacs in a defined area or subdivision. Once constructed, attempts to retrofit existing cul-de-sacs with connectors often require significant efforts to garner support from neighbors and elected officials. Zoning ordinances can also be used to establish a maximum block length.
School connectors can be built on dedicated public rights-of-way or on sidewalk easements. Children will frequently find their own informal ways of walking or bicycling to school. Instead of discouraging these paths, pay attention to the children and formalize the connections they make. Not all routes to school need to be paved, but paved routes will provide for an all-weather connection that can be used on rainy days by pedestrians or bicyclists.
Increasing connectivity of streets, paths and sidewalks reduces travel distances and makes it easier for pedestrians and bicyclists to access destinations.
The presence of paths, bridges or other neighborhood connectors can increase the number of walking and bicycling trips and decrease the time and distance it takes to travel from one point to another.
Costs vary by project conditions and scope; no additional costs are associated when connectivity is included in initial construction.
Keys to Success
- Sidewalk and roadway connectivity should be considered at the outset of design.
- Developments can be retrofitted for connectivity with the use of cut-throughs.
Key Factors to Consider
- Increasing roadway connectivity may sometimes cause an increase in unwanted through-vehicle traffic. Appropriate studies should be performed to estimate the effects of increasing roadway connectivity.
- It may be possible to retrofit existing, poorly connected street networks with a pedestrian path, bridge, or sidewalk to increase connectivity.
- Pedestrian and bicycle volume.
Students must have a functional, secure place to park their bike once they reach school. Not having a well planned bicycle parking option can lead to several undesireable outcomes, such theft, damage and locked bikes in or on critical safety infrastructure like emergency exits, hand rails and fire hydrants.
According to the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycling Professionals Bicycle Parking Guidelines, there are four elements to a bicycle rack system:
- The Rack Element
The rack element is the part of the bike rack that supports one bicycle. A good bike rack element holds the bike frame without bending the wheel and should have no moving parts. Rack elements are typically constructed of metal in an inverted u-shape, which allows for a variety of bicycle sizes and locks.
- The Rack
A rack is one or more rack elements joined on any common base or arranged in a regular array and fastened to a common mounting surface. Anchor the rack so that it cannot be stolen with the bikes attached and provides easy, independent bike access. Inverted u-shaped rack elements mounted in a row should be placed on 30” centers, allowing two bicycles to be secured to each rack element.
- The Rack Area
The rack area is a bicycle parking lot where racks are separated by aisles and may contain one or more racks. If possible, the rack area should be protected from the elements using any combination of structures, like a wall and awning. Try to avoid locating a bike rack area on grass or dirt as a rainy day can turn the bicycle parking lot into a mess. Instead, locate the bike rack area on a concrete pad.
- The Rack Area Site
The rack area site is the relationship of the rack area to a building entrance and approach. Locate the bike rack area within visibility of the building entrance it serves and consider the route cyclists use to approach that entrance. Bike rack areas should be sited in a space that minimizes vandalism and maximizes use, while avoiding conflicts with driveways, buses, and large numbers of pedestrians.
Ideally, rack areas should be sited as close, or closer, than the nearest car parking space and provided near all high traffic building entrances. When choosing between a larger bicycle rack area or multiple smaller rack areas, it is preferred to choose multiple locations that are more convenient to users.