Comfort has to do with how a person feels walking, biking or using other active modes This has a significant impact on whether people will use a network. Comfort is intertwined with safety as described under the Safety Principle, but also is impacted by the overall infrastructure experience and whether it instills user confidence and dignity. ADA design elements also have a strong influence on the comfort of a facility. There are five primary areas for improving comfort for active transportation users:

  • Separate modes. The greater the speed differential between roadway users, the more that physical separation between modes is necessary. This will provide a comfortable experience for people walking and biking.
  • Intuitiveness. Active transportation networks that are easy to understand and navigate instill confidence in users. Intuitiveness is achieved with consistent design and can be enhanced by visual elements like pavement markings and signage.
  • Reducing heat exposure. A person walking or biking regularly encounters high temperatures and sunshine. These elements, when combined with exertion, can lead to physical and mental discomfort. Providing thermally comfortable routes can make walking and biking more viable and appealing modes of travel. Thermal comfort can be improved along pedestrian and biking corridors by:
    • Providing shade through natural and engineered means
    • Choosing materials that absorb and/or reflect less heat
    • Reducing waiting and walking times between destinations, at transit stops, and signalized street crossings
    • Adding places of respite between destinations that provide access to shade, seating, and drinking water
  • Social space. Walking and biking can be social activities. Wider sidewalks or bike lanes that provide social space can contribute to the overall attractiveness of these modes. Wider sidewalks that allow two or more people to walk side-by-side and wider bike lanes that allow cyclists to ride alongside are two examples of social space.
  • Quality of space. Compared to a person in a car or taking transit, a person walking or biking is typically much more aware of the quality of the facility that they are using. This influences how comfortable a person is when using that facility. The quality of a facility is determined by the scale of components used, the material choices, the design details, the physical relationships to motorized facilities and surrounding land uses, maintenance, and other perceptual factors. High-quality street environments instill a sense of dignity and status.
Transportation Planning Project Manager
Kay Bork