Transit connects people to destinations. The quality and character of walking and bicycling connections impacts quality of life.Transit riders walk or walk and bicycle during part of their trip. Planning for TOD needs to address the directness, design, and character of routes for pedestrians and bicyclists. If these routes are indirect, unsafe, or unpleasant, people will be less likely to use transit. Improvements to pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, however, can increase the desirability of using transit. Convenient and pleasant places to walk and bike help attract investment as desirable places to live, work, and shop.


Downtown Robbinsdale, West Broadway Avenue. Bicyclists and cars can easily share wider travel lanes.Most transit riders walk at some point to or from transit. Some transit riders connect by bicycle. For those that walk, most are walking no more than 10 minutes, about a ½-mile. Bicyclists may travel further. Willingness to walk or bike varies, influenced by the quality and frequency of transit as well as the quality and convenience of the connecting routes. Many, if not most, people may choose to walk no more than ½-mile to or from a transit stop.

Walkshed and Bikeshed Analysis

Networks are interconnected systems of transportation routes. A walkshed or a bikeshed is a measure of the area that a network covers. Planners can use walkshed and bikeshed analysis to assess the adequacy of pedestrian and bicycle networks. For pedestrians, sidewalks and trails make up the pedestrian network. For bicyclists, the network may include roads with bicycle lanes, off-road facilities, or low-volume roadways where vehicles and bicyclists can safely share the roadway. The extent of both networks influences the desirability and practicality of using transit.

Station area planning typically includes an evaluation of walking conditions within a ½-mile radius from a station or stop. For bicycling, it can be as much as three miles. Planners identify the geographic area covered by actual distances using each network. Planners use this analysis to identify less accessible areas and what improvements might help.

The Golden Triangle area in Eden Prairie was developed as an auto-oriented employment district. The area’s connectivity will improve with investments in the pedestrian and bicycle network. Click on the map to see more detail. (Google Map link)Evaluating Improvements

Potential improvements to pedestrian and bicycle networks should be evaluated by their feasibility and cost effectiveness. This analysis can be done using Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Results can support discussions with residents and businesses on the desirability, cost-effectiveness, and priority of improvements.

Improvements could be relatively small, and potentially cost-effective, such as completing sidewalks along an existing street. Other improvements might be more complicated, controversial, or costly, like building a pedestrian bridge or acquiring easements on private property. Some improvements might make redevelopment and employment locations more accessible. Some types of investments might benefit people who rely on transit the most.

Comprehensive Plans

Planned improvements to pedestrian and bicycle networks should be identified in station area plans and comprehensive plans. Plans should include principles related to an interconnected network. Plans should also explain how and when these principles will be applied, and they should be specific enough to identify the timing of improvements. Plans should specifically identify likely funding sources, such as general funds, state aid funds for local roads, dedications through land subdivision, and/or assessments.

Planners should address how block size and streets impact walkability. Smaller blocks with narrower, interconnected streets increase an area’s overall accessibility on foot. Station area plans, comprehensive plans, and official controls should reflect these principles.

Mitigating Impact of Large Blocks and Indirect Routes

Planners should consider how to mitigate the impact of large blocks and indirect routes. An area with “superblocks,” associated with big-box retail and shopping centers, will reduce the walkability of the area. In residential areas, cul-de-sacs have the same impact. Fewer connections mean longer, more indirect journeys on foot. It also means that vehicles travel on fewer streets that can be wider and more difficult to cross.

Redevelopment, redesign of parking areas, and/or acquisition of new rights-of-way can improve connections and walkability for these areas over time. TOD planning should include evaluating the need for easements, extending streets, and providing utilities to future infill development or large-scale redevelopment.

Planning for Infill

Some cities may want to accommodate new, large building footprints and parking areas. This may happen in areas with limited market demand for higher densities and significant challenges to TOD. In these instances, planners should consider requirements that make future infill development possible. For example, the city may require, as part of development approvals, public easements and public utilities that could serve future infill development. Other considerations include site plan elements like wider sidewalks, boulevards and landscaping, and buildings that are oriented along the public street.

Case studies:

  • Southwest Corridor Investment Framework (COMING SOON)
  • Englewood Station, Colorado (COMING SOON)

The City of Bloomington developed a streetscape plan for the South Loop area.In addition to expanding pedestrian networks, planning for TOD should address the quality and character of sidewalks. Planners should identify needed improvements in the context of future land use, the transportation role of roadways, and available right-of-way. This approach takes into account the multiple users of the right-of-way.

Balancing Modes

Planners should also work more closely with engineers to prioritize, balance, or accommodate different needs. For example, our regional economy as well as local businesses depend on the movement of freight. In some cases, roadways without enough room for trucks to turn can hinder the movement and delivery of freight. In contrast, rights-of-way can be designed to easily handle infrequent turns by trucks, but diminish safety and comfort for pedestrians at intersections.

Planners and engineers can work with their communities to find a balance between a roadway’s mobility function and the community's future land use and character. For example, a roadway may have an “arterial” function, but it might pass through an area where a community is planning for dense, walkable, and mixed-use development. In such cases, a city or county might maintain a roadway’s overall capacity for carrying traffic, but include additional design elements. These features can help reduce speeds, restrict turns, and provide well-marked crosswalks for pedestrian safety. Thinking of a roadway or corridor’s future use and interim improvements can help planners, engineers, and public officials as they review development plans. Full reconstruction of roadways is rare and expensive. 

Analyzing the Right-of-Way

Most businesses value on-street parking. These businesses gave up parking to expand the sidewalk for more outdoor seating.

When analyzing rights-of-way, planner should consider these factors:

  • Role and importance of right-of-way in accessing transit stops and stations by foot or by bicycle

  • Width and condition of sidewalks, including compliance with the Americans with Disability Act

  • Transportation roles of public right-of-way, including the functional classification of the street and its use as a truck route or by transit vehicles

  • Existing and forecasted traffic volumes, the capacity of the roadway, and alternative routes for vehicles

  • The number of times a sidewalks or trail is interrupted by a driveway, and possibilities for eliminating or consolidating driveways

  • Buffers between pedestrians and moving vehicles, such as boulevards, on-street parking, and streetscape

  • Streetscape elements such as lighting, signage, art, garbage or recycling containers, and news racks

  • Stormwater management and snow storage or removal needs

  • Protection from the elements including boulevard trees, awnings that cover the pedestrian right-of-way, and shading by buildings that front the sidewalk.

  • Availability of right-of-way for potential improvements, and the feasibility of acquiring additional right-of-way

  • Availability of alternative routes for bicyclists in narrow corridors

  • Location and condition of underground and above-ground utilities

  • Funding sources for, and cost-effectiveness of, potential improvements

  • Public support for changes to the right-of-way

Resources on Street and Right-of-Way Design:


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