While it is a known fact that footpaths and crossings are needed to safeguard pedestrians in our cities, will just their presence suffice? What differentiates a good footpath from a bad one? How do we judge the quality of pedestrian infrastructure around us? #KnowYourStreets will attempt to provide answers to such questions by simplifying the urban design codes and guidelines on pedestrian facilities.

Ideally, a footpath should at least be wide enough for two wheelchairs to comfortably pass each other. Which means, a footpath must be at least 1.8 metres wide. That’s slightly wider than the average height of an Indian adult, or as wide as an average sedan.

In case of narrower roads with widths less than 10m, a minimum footpath width of 1.5m is acceptable; this gives enough space for at least a wheelchair user and a pedestrian to pass each other.  

Of course, 1.8 metres wide is still insufficient in places with high pedestrian activity, including commercial areas and bus stops, where footpaths must be between 3 and 4 metres wide depending on the type of land-use.

Have you been forced off a footpath by an electric box or poles or giant posters or low tree branches? Happens every day? It should not.

Official guidelines do provide for utility boxes, trees and other obstructions on footpaths. Despite these, a clear walking zone, 1.8 metres wide and 2.2 metres high, must be maintained. Where this is not possible, a short stretch may narrow down to 1.2 metres width before returning to standard dimensions.

Any footpath narrower than 1.8 metres width may not allow pedestrians to pass each other comfortably. Recollect being frustrated by a fellow pedestrian ahead of you walking at a slower pace? Or waiting for one walking in the opposite direction to pass?

Passing places will allow getting past fellow pedestrians with ease. So wherever an effective width of 1.8 metres can’t be maintained, there should at least be passing places, which are 1.8 metres wide and 2.5 metres long, at adequate frequency.  

It’s not uncommon for us to cross a section of the road and wait on the median before crossing the other section of a busy road, is it? Refuge islands are simply safe spaces allocated in the median for waiting.  

These are very essential when the road width and crossing distance are higher as they allow pedestrians to safely cross the road in two stages.These are mandatory spaces, as per IRC guidelines, on all roads with more than four lanes for traffic. Refuge Islands have to be at least 1.2 metres wide but are recommended to be 2 metres wide to accommodate wheelchairs.

Yes and no. Pedestrians may use at-grade crossings or grade-separated crossings to safely walk across lanes of traffic. At-grade here means crossing at the same level as the road itself, and foot over bridges (FOBs) and subways are grade separated crossings.

Unless lifts are provided to ensure step-free access, FOBs and subways can be uncomfortable to use for most pedestrians, and are certainly not suitable for the differently-abled. These are to be considered, therefore, only where at-grade crossings cannot be provided.

A midblock crossing is a marked pedestrian crossing in between two intersections. Such crossings are placed based on factors such as traffic volume, speed, roadway width, adjacent land-use etc.


These are the standards prescribed for spacing of mid-block pedestrian crossings:

In residential areas, spacing range should be every 80m – 250m

In commercial/ mixed use areas, spacing range should be between 80m – 150m

In high intensity commercial areas, pedestrianization should be considered

Absolutely not! Footpaths are for pedestrians and must never be obstructed by parked motor vehicles, which already have dedicated spaces called roads. Why encroach then, no? Let them pedestrians walk free of obstructions.