2.3 Walking and wheeling

2.3.1 Network

A comprehensive and accessible network of footways and paths should be provided within all developments to give access to all dwellings, and to allow permeability within and through the site. The network should reflect desire-lines to surrounding destinations and ideally be more direct than the equivalent vehicular route. There must be appropriate crossing points with raised tables / dropped kerbs.

Continuous footways are generally required on both sides of the road, but, if development is to one side of the road only, the requirement for a footway on the opposite side of the road may be relaxed.

2.3.2 Footway and path widths

Those destinations that will generate or attract substantial footfall such as shopping areas, schools, bus routes, train stations, clinics, parks and play areas should be identified at an early stage in the planning process. This will influence the layout of the active travel network, while the predicted level of use will dictate the width of the paths, and whether segregation of cyclists and pedestrians is necessary.

The minimum width of an adoptable footway is 2m to allow two wheelchairs to pass each other comfortably. This may be relaxed (to a minimum of 1.5m) for short obstructions but, where possible, cabinets, grit bins and lighting columns should be accommodated outside this 2m width. Much greater widths will be required in busy areas and on the spinal routes.

Shared-use paths must be a minimum of 3m in width, but 4m or greater is preferred, particularly on commuter cycle routes, in busy areas, and where there are vertical obstructions (such as fencing and buildings) at the side of paths. Cycling by Design is the relevant guidance document.

Where there is a possibility that parked vehicles will overhang the footway, the footway width should be correspondingly wider, or a verge provided. 

2.3.3 Kerbs

Full-height (100mm) kerbs are generally required. This not only reduces the propensity for drivers to park on the footway, but also provides a level of protection for pedestrians and properties from storm water. Kerbs are an important navigational aid for people using long-canes, and where they are not present, additional guidance features such as a building line at the back of the footway, or upstands/tapboards should provide an alternative.

2.3.4 Surveillance

The layout should allow paths to have natural surveillance from surrounding buildings, particularly on routes to schools. High fences on both side of a path are discouraged as these can reduce the feeling of security. Lighting should eliminate any dark corners, and planting should be designed so as not to obscure light-sources.

2.3.5 Accessibility

All paths and footways must be accessible for people of all abilities, having regard to Roads for All and Inclusive Mobility guidance. These state that the maximum accessible gradient for a path is 5% therefore, where the road gradient is greater than this, the footway will require a different alignment in order to achieve the requirements. Path and footway gradients above the minimum 5% should be designed as ramps (see Roads for All, section 4.1.13)

Where active travel routes cross the carriageway, desire-lines should be carefully considered, and traffic speeds restricted by physical measures if possible. At junctions, for example, corner radii should be tight to slow vehicles and facilitate the shortest crossing distance for pedestrians. On the busiest desire-lines, tactile paving is required in line with Roads for All guidance.

Controlled crossing facilities are likely to be required at busy locations adjacent to shops, schools, community facilities and similar.

In limited circumstances, footbridges and underpasses may be appropriate to cross motorways, dual carriageways, watercourses and railway lines. These crossings should be designed to be obviously more convenient, pleasant and safe to use than any alternative pedestrian route. This will likely require elevating or depressing the carriageway to ensure that footways and paths have minimal changes in level.

Steps pose problems not only for prams and wheelchairs but also for maintenance vehicles and should never form the sole pedestrian route. However, since some people find walking on any sloping surface difficult or impossible, steps should be provided in addition to ramps wherever possible, designed in accordance with Roads for All.

2.3.6 Grit bins

Grit bins should be provided at a rate of 1 for every 50 dwellings, and should be sited on an area of hardstanding adjacent to a path or footway, particularly where there are steps or ramps.

Note: These webpages are for reference by developers of housing and employment sites in East Lothian.
They provide guidance on transport infrastructure against which Planning Applications will be assessed
and evaluated, and set out East Lothian Council's procedures regarding the construction and adoption
of new roads in accordance with current legislation.
These pages supersede all previous versions of our Standards for Development Roads document.

01/07/2023 Document release