- For the former Microsoft owned website see: Sidewalk.com.
A sidewalk (US English), or pavement or footpath (British English), is a path, usually constructed of concrete (particularly in the United States), asphalt, brick (particularly in Europe) or stone, designed for pedestrian traffic and often running alongside a road. In the 19th century and early 20th century, sidewalks of wood were also common in some locations. They may still be found at historic beach locations and in conservation areas to protect the land beneath and around, called boardwalks. Stone slabs called flagstones or flags are often used where an attractive appearance is required, as in historic town centres. In other places, pre-cast concrete slabs (called paving slabs or, less correctly, paving stones) are used. These may be coloured or textured to resemble stone.
Sidewalks are more common in modern urban areas, where they may abut the road, than suburban areas, where they are sometimes separated from the road by a tree lawn (depending on available spaces and prior urban planning). Sidewalks are rare in rural areas .
Some paths are shared by pedestrians and cyclists. This can be expressed by saying that bicycle travel is allowed on the sidewalk, or that pedestrians use the bicycle path, since there is no sidewalk. In towns, if there is only one path, bicycles usually have to use the road. In the areas in which car traffic is intense, a growing trend is to create dedicated bicycle paths for cyclists, either as a lane on a sidewalk, a lane on the road itself, or another separate path, in order to let them have a safer, distinguished space. This practice originated in northern Europe.
In some countries, sidewalks are often the responsibility of the adjacent property owners.
Sidewalks vary in width, depending on traffic in the area, though are generally wider than 4 feet (1.3 meters). Often that is too narrow however, particularly when obstructions are placed on the sidewalk (street lights, traffic signal poles, news stands, road signs, fire hydrants etc.), or if bicycles use the facility.
Most western countries have a policy about the removal of so-called "architectural barriers " in order to reduce the difficulties for disabled people, and these policies usually reserve a great attention to sidewalks. The Americans with Disabilities Act, like other rules in other countries, requires sidewalks to have curb cuts at intersections so that sidewalks can be used by persons in wheelchairs.
Last updated: 08-18-2005 16:53:16