Urban Pathway: Walkability’s Red Carpet

One of the highly effective yet seldom recognized signs that a city is on the right “path” toward walkability and a person-friendly downtown is the urban pathway.  These pedestrian-only, artistically manicured alternatives to walking on a noisy sidewalk alongside busy streets serve several constructive purposes when building a vibrant downtown.

The Cut-Through

Often pedestrians and cyclists are faced with the following choices… walking “the long way” around a city block just to get to a destination in between two streets a block away, or possibly cutting through an unattractive and at times unsafe city parking lot.  An urban pathway will typically bisect a city block in between two streets, essentially cutting the block in half for pedestrians.  Cars can take the long way around while you shoot through on foot to your destination.

A Step Apart

Typically, these pathways take pedestrians away from busy car-filled streets and on to a much more peaceful, walking experience. We don’t always realize how important comfort is to building walkable city neighborhoods.  Urban pathways provide a safe, comfortable “experiential” environment for walkers, which is vital to the creation of a walking culture.

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Though these photos are in winter, Hudson, New York’s urban pathway couples city blocks for pedestrians

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Beautification

Often these walkways employ creative concrete, stone or brick designs, grasses, trees and plant life, benches and even small art installations. Aside from providing a safe and functional accessibility amenity, urban pathways can be micro-parks that add a visual vibrancy to any urban setting.

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Utica, New York boasts it’s own city path between parking lots off of Lafayette Street

Action is Louder Than Words

Cities all over the country are talking a lot about the creation of pedestrian friendly streets. And a lot of it is just that… talk.  The creation and maintenance of these urban pathways is a clear signal to residents that walkability is a priority worth investing in.

Schenectady’s urban path compliments an incredibly walkable downtown

What would you rather do, take the long way around the block, cut through a parking lot, or stroll down a path that’s made for your enjoyment as you walk?  Which of the above would encourage you to walk your city more often?  Urban pathways are red carpets for city-goers who wish to have a connection to their downtowns and neighborhoods, and because of this, these creative, walkable paradises are here to stay!