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Federal Highway Administration

A walkway is any type of defined space or pathway for use by a person traveling by foot or using a wheelchair. These may be pedestrian walkways, shared use paths, sidewalks, or roadway shoulders.

With more than 6,200 pedestrian fatalities and 75,000 pedestrian injuries occurring in roadway crashes annually,1 it is important for transportation agencies to improve conditions and safety for pedestrians and to integrate walkways more fully into the transportation system. Research shows people living in low-income communities are less likely to encounter walkways and other pedestrian-friendly features.2

"Photo: This photograph, taken from the roadway, shows a sidewalk in a residential area. The concrete sidewalk is separated from the roadway by a concrete curb and landscaping area. A pedestrian can be seen running on the sidewalk."

Example of a sidewalk in a residential area. Source: pedbikeimages.org / Burden

Well-designed pedestrian walkways, shared use paths, and sidewalks improve the safety and mobility of pedestrians. Pedestrians should have direct and connected network of walking routes to desired destinations without gaps or abrupt changes. In some rural or suburban areas, where these types of walkways are not feasible, roadway shoulders provide an area for pedestrians to walk next to the roadway, although these are not preferable.

"alt="Photo: This photograph, taken from the roadway, shows a paved shoulder being used as a walkway by two people in a rural area. Vehicles on the roadway are shown traveling in the same direction, indicating that the roadway is a one way or a divided facility. The paved shoulder and general travel lane are separated by a wide, solid white line. The outside of the paved shoulder is bordered by a concrete curb. Beyond the curb, a footpath is visible in the adjacent grass."

Paved shoulder used as a walkway. Source: pedbikeimages.org / Burden

Transportation agencies should work towards incorporating pedestrian facilities into all roadway projects unless exceptional circumstances exist. It is important to provide and maintain accessible walkways along both sides of the road in urban areas, particularly near school zones and transit locations, and where there is a large amount of pedestrian activity. Walkable shoulders should also be considered along both sides of rural highways when routinely used by pedestrians.


1. National Center for Statistics and Analysis. (2020, March). Pedestrians: 2018 data (Traffic Safety Facts. Report No. DOT HS 812 850). National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

2. Gibbs, et all. Income Disparities in Street Features that Encourage Walking. Bridging the Gap, (2012, March).

3. Gan et al. Update of Florida Crash Reduction Factors and Countermeasures to Improve the Development of District Safety Improvement Projects. Florida DOT, (2005).