Using GIS to Prioritize Sidewalk Installation and Repairs

 GIS, Infrastructure Management, Risk Management, Uncategorized, Walkability/ADA  Comments Off on Using GIS to Prioritize Sidewalk Installation and Repairs
Mar 212011

Sidewalk Installation Priority Map

So, you’re a public agency trying to improve the walkability of your community and you know you have a bunch of missing sidewalks.  You may have even gone through the process of identifying where the sidewalks are missing, how much you need to install, and how much it will cost.  If you are like most other agencies, you don’t have the resources to fix all your problems at once.  You need to establish a prioritization system that is credible and defendable…and one that will  maximize your available resources.

The example above shows the result of using ArcGIS to calculate sidewalk installation priority for the City of Rancho Cucamonga based on a number of factors.  These factors included various locations such as senior centers, bus stops, schools, and parks; and weighted the missing sidewalk links based on their proximity to these locations.  The number of riders at each bus stop were also taken into account.

Locations such as senior centers and bus stops were given the highest value due to liability concerns related to potential trip/fall accidents and the fact that most people who utilize public bus transit walk to the bus stop.  Yes, there are those who bike (or use a wheelchair) to get to the bus stop, but it is safe to assume that folks aren’t getting dropped off at the bus stop by a car- that would be somewhat contradictory.

Those segments that have the highest priority are shown in red, while those with the lowest priority are shown in blue.  Bus stops (hollow circles) and schools (pink polygons) were added for effect…adding the other feature classes takes away from the priority ranks symbology.

Current estimates show that about $7-$10 million is required to install sidewalks at all missing locations.  This cost will likely be spread out over a period of time, such as 10 years; with higher-priority segments being installed first.  Some interesting notes about this GIS utility are that it can take into account multiple other locations and can also be used to prioritize other municipal operations, such as trip/fall hazard repairs.


Feb 052011

The time was about 11am (PST) and I was on my way to the Sprint store to exchange an old smart phone case for a new one (Evo 4G in case you were wondering).  I was on the wrong end of the traffic signal timing on my normal route so I decided to take a different route to my destination via Vista Way in Oceanside.  In hindsight I’m glad I did this.  I drove past an old woman walking west on the north side of Vista Way.  As she was about to cross Via Esmarca, I looked ahead and saw that the landscape sprinklers were spraying away not only on the landscape but also onto the adjacent sidewalk in front of her as well.  I pulled into the nearest lot, got out of the car, crossed through some bushes, and arrived on the sidewalk by the bus stop where she was patiently waiting for the next bus.

Pedestrian walking through wet sidewalk to arrive at bus stop

I introduced myself and explained my livelihood.  When asked about the wet sidewalk she said she has taken this route a number of times and this is the first time the sprinklers were on at this time of day.  “Why can’t they set them to go on early in the morning?” she asked.  I was about to jump back in my car when I saw another woman approaching the same intersection and looking to cross Vista Way to get to the strip mall to the south.

Pedestrian crossing Vista Way @ Via Esmarca (Oceanside, CA)

This woman glanced at the sprinklers to her right as if to be thankful that she didn’t have to continue westbound.   I proceeded to my car to head onto my predestined appointment with the Sprint store when I came across the gentleman below just a few hundred feet down the same road.

I wondered how his traveling experience could be made better.  Covered bus stops, perhaps?  Note the badly deteriorated asphalt concrete road shoulder and the accompanying ponded water.  Ponded water + frequent bus stops = concrete bus pads!