WALKLV: Regional Sidewalk Inventory
George G. Kinney, AICP, Director of Transportation Planning
The Lehigh Valley Planning Commission recently released its first ever sidewalk inventory, which offers an assessment of sidewalk connectivity and accessibility throughout the region. Sidewalk gaps represent a significant barrier to accessibility, and the WALKLV report attempts to help regional communities and organizations identify and promote an interconnected network of pedestrian-accessible transportation corridors.
The inventory was developed using 2015 aerial photography and was released in a GIS online format that offers ease of use. Development of the inventory was based, in part, on an analysis of the Lehigh and Northampton Transportation Authority (LANta) transit bus stop inventory and the regional trail inventory to identify opportunities for future connectivity. In addition, the report lays the groundwork for a future regional bicycle and pedestrian planning study.
Finally, the report includes a series of ‘next step’ suggestions that regional municipalities can use to underpin a variety of additional planning exercises, including those that support comprehensive planning efforts; bicycle and pedestrian planning initiatives; and planning for parks, recreation and open space. It is important to note that sidewalks are not appropriate in all locations throughout the region. In fact, sidewalks are typically indicative of urban and suburban settings where denser development patterns have emerged and connectivity is instrumental to improved mobility. To further this point, the report offers a ‘Classification of Municipalities’ map, a ‘Sidewalk Per Person’ score and a ‘Municipal Class Sidewalk’ score as measure of population density to the availability of sidewalk infrastructure.
Report results show that Lehigh County has 1,177 miles of sidewalk, and Northampton County has 900 miles of sidewalks. The five municipalities
with the most sidewalks are Allentown (482 miles), Bethlehem (363 miles), Whitehall (143 miles), Lower Macungie (127 miles) and Easton (108 miles). A full municipal listing is included in the report.
Other report discussion points include:
Of the 2,683 LANta stops analyzed, 2,040 stops were located within identified pedestrian corridors (76%).
The sidewalk data will complement and enhance a regional commuter/mode study that the LVPC anticipates to begin in 2016/2017.
The report was prepared consistent with the policy and guidance articulated through the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) Unified Planning Work Program, the MOVELV: Long Range Transportation Plan and the MOVELV: Transportation Improvement Program.
The report builds on and enhances the multimodal strategies for the region.
Transportation projects that leverage this data with other relevant data sources enhance their chances for available multimodal formulaic and discretionary funding sources.
The report provides a data resource for planning and mobility exercises.
The importance of managing and enhancing existing infrastructure to support capacity improvements in locations dedicated for urban development.
A sidewalk that connects to an established trail and/or transit stop improves quality of life and provides additional options for pedestrian mobility, including access to work, schools, shopping and leisure activities. The LVPC believes communities can benefit from this report/analysis because the results will identify where improvements in walkability can yield the greatest benefit, allowing residents to safely walk through larger portions
of the community or to connect with more natural settings on the trail system.
The report is available at the LVPC website at http://www.lvpc.org/pdf/2016/WalkLV_SidewalkInventory.pdf