U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590

Skip to content
Facebook iconYouTube iconTwitter iconFlickr iconLinkedInInstagram


FHWA Home / Safety / Pedestrian & Bicycle / A Guide for Maintaining Pedestrian Facilities for Enhanced Safety

A Guide for Maintaining Pedestrian Facilities for Enhanced Safety

Download Version
PDF [8.30 MB]

October 2013

U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration

1. Report No. 
2. Government Accession 
3. Recipient's Catalog No.
4. Title and Subtitle 
Guide for Maintaining Pedestrian Facilities for Enhanced Safety
5. Report Date 
October 2013
6. Performing Organization Code Report No.
Tom Huber, Kevin Luecke, Michael Hintze, Virginia Coffman, Jennifer Toole, Matt VanOosten
8. Performing Organization Report No.
9. Performing Organization Name and Address 
Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. 
8300 Boone Blvd., Suite 700
Vienna, VA 22182
10. WWork Unit No. (TRAIS)
11. Contract or Grant No.
12. Sponsoring Agency Name and Address 
Federal Highway Administration Office of Safety
1200 New Jersey Ave., SE
Washington, DC 20590
13. Type of Report and Period Covered
14. Sponsoring Agency Code
15. Supplementary Notes

The contract manager for this report was Tamara Redmon (FHWA Office of Safety). The project team gratefully acknowledges the input provided by the report and guide's panel of experts. These panel members are:

  • Paula Reeves, Washington Department of Transportation, Olympia, WA
  • Sean Harbaugh, Columbia Association, Columbia, MD
  • Donna Gardino, Fairbanks MPO, Fairbanks, AK
  • Mike O'Meara, Wisconsin Department of Transportation, Wisconsin Rapids, WI
  • Tom Fischer, City of Tuscon, Arizona
  • Arthur Ross, City of Madison, WI
  • Mary Anne Koos, Florida DOT
  • Kevin Farrington, City of Plattsburgh, New York
  • Dan Bauer, City of Minneapolis, MN
  • Yon Lambert, City of Alexandria, VA

Melissa Anderson of the U.S. Access Board, Washington D.C. is acknowledged for both her participation on the panel and for her tireless assistance and guidance on accessibility issues. FHWA staff members who provided initial and on-going direction include Gabe Rousseau, Candace Groudine, Jody McCullough, Brooke Struve, Michelle Noch, Kristie Johnson, Hillary Isebrands, and Peter Eun.

Images were provided by Toole Design Group, City of Charlotte, City of Ithaca, and panel members Paula Reeves, Tom Fisher, Melissa Anderson, and Sean Harbaugh.

16. Abstract 
A Guide for Maintaining Pedestrian Facilities for Enhanced Safety provides guidance for maintaining pedestrian facilities with the primary goal of increasing safety and mobility. The Guide addresses the needs for pedestrian facility maintenance; common maintenance issues; inspection, accessibility, and compliance; maintenance measurers; funding; and construction techniques to reduce future maintenance.

17. Key Words: 
pedestrian, facility, maintenance, sidewalk, path, crosswalk, signal, funding, repair, concrete, asphalt, safety, accessibility, access, patching, curb ramps, ADA, hazard, crack, inspection
18. Distribution Statement 
19. Security Classif. (of this report) Unclassified 20. Security Classif. (of this page) Unclassified 21. No. of Pages
22. Price

Table of Contents

List of Figures

1 Purpose and Background

1.1 Purpose

1.2 Audience for Guide

1.3 Types of Pedestrian Facilities

1.4 Overview of Pedestrian Maintenance Programs in the United States

1.5 Conclusion.

2 The Case for Pedestrian Facility Maintenance.

2.1 Pedestrian Facilities – A Part of the Transportation System

2.2 Maintenance is Critical for Safety

2.3 Maintenance Improves Mobility.

2.4 Maintenance is Critical for People with Mobility Restrictions.

2.5 Asset Management.

2.6 Liability Management.

3 Common Maintenance Issues.

3.1 Surface Types.

3.1.1 Concrete.
3.1.2 Asphalt.
3.1.3 Brick and Pavers

3.2 Common Maintenance Issues

3.2.1 Infrastructure Issues Leading to Increased Maintenance
3.2.2 Seasonal Maintenance

4 Inspection, Accessibility, Compliance, Plans and Policies.

4.1 Inspection and Accessibility.

4.1.1 Importance of Inspection.
4.1.2 Inspection Criteria.
4.1.3 Inspection and Accessibility.
4.1.4 Using Maintenance to Improve Accessibility.
4.1.5 Inspection Types.
4.1.6 Documentation of Inspection Results and New Technologies.

4.2 Compliance.

4.2.1 Principles for Compliance
4.2.2 Compliance with Sidewalk Repair and Replacement Ordinances
4.2.3 Compliance with the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD)
4.2.4 Routine Maintenance Supported by Laws and Ordinances
4.2.5 Types of Enforcement Efforts

4.3 Policies and Ordinances

4.4 Plans.

4.4.1 Inspection Criteria and Procedures
4.4.2 Prioritization and Funding
4.4.3 Communication
4.4.4 Documentation
4.4.5 Equipment

4.5 Conclusion

5 Maintenance Measures

5.1 When is Maintenance Necessary for Sidewalks, Paths, and Curb Ramps?

5.2 Maintenance Repair Methods for sidewalks and paths

5.2.1 Patching
5.2.2 Cracking Repairs
5.2.3 Wedging
5.2.4 Grinding and Horizontal Cutting
5.2.5 Mud-jacking, Concrete Raising or Slab-jacking
5.2.6 Sidewalk and Path Replacement
5.2.7 Bricks and Pavers
5.2.8 Repairs to Curb Ramps
5.2.9 New Materials

5.3 Maintenance of Crosswalks

5.3.1 Crosswalk Marking Material
5.3.2 Crosswalk Marking Considerations

5.4 Maintenance of Pedestrian Signals

5.4.1 Background
5.4.2 Maintenance Recommendations for Pedestrian Signals

5.5 Maintenance of Pedestrian Signage

5.6 Seasonal Maintenance

5.6.1 Vegetation Removal and Control
5.6.2 Sweeping
5.6.3 Snow and Ice Removal

6. Construction Techniques to Lessen Maintenance for Sidewalks and Paths.

6.1 Subgrade

6.2 Pavement Thickness

6.2.1 Concrete
6.2.2 Asphalt

6.3 Drainage

6.4 Control Joints and Scoring Patterns

6.5 Curb Ramps & Detectable Warning Fields

6.6 Street Trees

6.6.1 Soil Selection
6.6.2 Soil Volume
6.6.3 Tree Pits
6.6.4 Tree Placement
6.6.5 Tree Selection

7 Funding

7.1 Methods of funding inspection and maintenance programs

7.1.1 Community-Paid Repair and Maintenance Programs
7.1.2 Property Owner Assessment for Repai

7.2 Funding Summary

8 Conclusion

Appendix A: Model Sidewalk Inspection Policy

Appendix B: Protruding Objects Summary Sheet

Appendix C: City of St. Michael Sidewalk and Trail Inspection and Maintenance Policy

Appendix D: Risk Management Information

Appendix E: Eau Claire, Wisconsin Sidewalk Ordinance

Appendix F: Des Moines, Iowa Sidewalk Ordinance

List of Figures

Figure 1: Sidewalks and pedestrian areas should be accessible to all users

Figure 2: Concrete is the most widely used material for sidewalks in the United States

Figure 3: Asphalt is commonly used for shared use paths

Figure 4: Porous pavers in downtown Denver

Figure 5: Rubberized pavers allow for modular installation

Figure 6: A crumbling surface on a walkway

Figure 7: Spalling on a sidewalk

Figure 8: Cracking of sidewalk sections can lead to accessibility issues

Figure 9: Heaved sidewalk

Figure 10: Damaged detectible warning fields

Figure 11: A street is prepared for the installation of new crosswalk in-laid markings

Figure 12: Mean annual snowfall and days that snow remains on the ground

Figure 13: Snow and ice should be promptly removed from sidewalks and paths

Figure 14: Asphalt pushed up against curb ramp

Figure 15: New markings tracked over already

Figure 16: Soil accumulation across a sidewalk

Figure 17: The maximum extension of this object is limited to 4 inches

Figure 18: Sidewalk inspection examples and criteria from a Midwestern city

Figure 19: An accessible detour

Figure 20: Missing areas of concrete have been marked for repair

Figure 21: Areas have been temporarily repaired with asphalt patches

Figure 22: Cracking can cause trip hazards

Figure 23: Wedge has been placed to mitigate the hazard

Figure 24: A small wedge may create a hazard

Figure 25: A raised sidewalk block has been ground down to provide a smoother transition

Figure 26: An unevenly raised slab can be ground to provide a smoother transition

Figure 27: The mud-jacking process

Figure 28: These panels were mud-jacked more than 20 years ago

Figure 29: Damaged pavers have been repaired with asphalt to alleviate a hazard

Figure 30: Porous pavement in Washington D.C.

Figure 31: Relative comparison of crosswalk marking materials

Figure 32: Old crosswalk markings removed for new crosswalk marking tape

Figure 33: City of Boston fines for non-compliant snow removal

Figure 34: Five inches of concrete sidewalk

Figure 35: Inadequate shoulders on a path resulting in edge damage

Figure 36: Tree size to soil volume relationship

Figure 37: Modular plastic pavers near a tree

Figure 38: City of Seattle standard specification for street tree planting

Figure 39: City of Seattle partial list of approved street trees

  Table of Contents | Next

Page last modified on November 21, 2013
Safe Roads for a Safer Future - Investment in roadway safety saves lives
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000