Pedestrian Clear Zone

Why are pedestrian clear zones age-friendly?

The Pedestrian Clear Zone is the area of the sidewalk corridor that is intended for pedestrian travel and is particularly important where there is increased pedestrian activity. Street furniture, street trees, planters, and other vertical elements such as poles, and fire hydrants, as well as temporary signs and other items are not allowed to protrude into the pedestrian clear zone. The sidewalk must have 5 feet clear width remaining. To meet ADA requirements, 4 feet is the absolute minimum width of the pedestrian clear zone. Additional pedestrian clear zone widths are required within transit zones and pedestrian-designated zones.

A smooth, clear pathway makes it easier for people to walk. If people use a walking stick or walker, a smooth surface reduces the effort required to make progress and encourages people to walk further than they might otherwise. Similarly, bumps and cracks in pavement can create barriers for mobility assistance devices such as walkers, strollers, and wheelchairs. Paving sidewalks using the typical design standards allows for the City and other agencies to more easily maintain sidewalks.   

Outdated street furniture, poles, and other barriers should be removed from the pedestrian clear zone. Business A-frame boards should be in the landscape/furniture zone or in the store frontage zone for everyone to navigate sidewalks without obstruction.

Pedestrian clear zone. Six feet of pedestrian clear space between a sidewalk cafe with a fence and a landscape strip with trees.

Where should pedestrian clear zones be prioritized?

Pedestrian clear zones should always be maintained on all sidewalks in the city whether in areas of denser pedestrian mobility, at schools, senior centers, hospitals, parks, at intersections, in urban centers and villages, and at and around mobility hubs.

Pedestrian clear zones are designed and constructed by

  • Seattle Department of Transportation
  • Private development

Estimated cost*

$$$ for a block of concrete sidewalk with landscaping area (one side in 2018 dollars)

* Cost levels:
$ = Under $100,000
$$ = $100,001-$500,000
$$$ = $500,001-$1,000,000
$$$$= Over $1,000,001

Resources

Streets Illustrated Sidewalk standards
Downtown sidewalk requirements See Map 1C
Find-it-Fix-it to report issues
Tree soil volume guidance