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Sidewalk Widths

Providing greater connectivity and equity to our transportation network

Sidewalks and shared-use paths are part of the required infrastructure in our city, as they protect the health, safety, and welfare of the community. This Subdivision Regulation Amendment (SRA), passed by the Urban County Council in August 2019, looks to provide greater connectivity and equity as it relates to these elements of our transportation network. These changes impact how the built environment directly affects economic growth, public health, and the quality of life of Lexington's current and future residents. This regulation change helps ensure that the preferred types of multi-modal networks become the norm rather than the exception.

This SRA is a direct implementation of Imagine Lexington and is one of many projects that are in various stages of development to match our regulations to the vision of the Comprehensive Plan.

What changed?

The amendment incorporates the findings of the Lexington Area MPO Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan and increases the width of sidewalks and shared-use paths to provide both safer and more diverse transportation options for the Lexington community. The changes to Article 6 include an increase of sidewalk widths based on the roadway type. By “right sizing” sidewalks based on use of roadways, these facilities will be safer and provide greater separation between pedestrians and vehicles.

At a minimum, sidewalks are proposed to increase for local roadways from four (4) feet to five (5) feet, as in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Additionally, the amended text defines the minimum width of a shared-use path as ten (10) feet, which is at a level that alleviates potential safety conflicts between users of shared-use paths.

 

*Downtown and urban environments, near shopping centers, schools, civic centers, etc.

Summary of Changes to Minimum Sidewalk Widths

   
Street Classification Previous Min. Width (Feet) New Min. Width (Feet)
Non-Residential and Industrial Collectors/Connectors (40’ Street Width) 4.0 6.0
Non-Residential and Industrial Collectors/Connectors (51’ Street Width) 4.0 6.0
Residential Collectors/Connectors and Industrial Locals 4.0 6.0, 8.0 in high use area*
Local Residential 4.0 5.0
Local Residential Cul-De-Sac 4.0 5.0
Arterial Major and Minor -------------------- 6.0, 8.0 in high use area*

Why Change It?

Over the last 75 years, the design of our transportation network has primarily focused on the safe and efficient movement of single occupancy vehicles. As a result, we have historically placed less attention on designing for pedestrians and cyclists. This amendment places a higher priority on designing a multi-modal network that is safe and efficient for all types of users, rather than exclusively on single occupancy vehicles. 

In researching the "why" behind this amendment, it was clear that the portions of Lexington's transportation network that lack sidewalks or shared-use trails serve as barriers to equitable and safe pedestrian movement - unless the traveler is utilizing a vehicle. Additionally, in areas with exceptionally long block lengths, the safety of pedestrians is often at risk given that, with lack of adequate connections and infrastructure, pedestrian users are more likely to attempt dangerous mid-block crossing and highway interchanges in these urbanized areas. By requiring facilities that are sized appropriately at all locations, there will be more diverse (and secure) transportation options for all residents and visitors.

In addition to progressing the City's efforts to provide a more comprehensive transportation network, these changes bring the minimum standards for development in line with:

These changes also support Lexington's larger safety and transportation goals, which emphasize the well-being of people of all ages and abilities across all modes of transportation operating within the public right-of-way.

Implementing this change is helping to further Imagine Lexington's goal of establishing an effective, comprehensive transportation network (Theme D, Goal #1). It strongly supports the Complete Streets concept and prioritizes a pedestrian-first design that accommodates the needs of bicycle, transit and other vehicles.

Notable Dates

  • July 18, 2019 - Planning Commission Work Session
  • Aug. 1, 2019 - Planning Commission Committees
  • Aug. 22, 2019 - Planning Commission Public Hearing (video)
  • Sept. 26, 2019 - Urban County Council 1st Reading (video)
  • Oct. 10, 2019 - Urban County Council 2nd Reading (video)