Sidewalk Plan

Falmouth Transportation Commission

Falmouth Sidewalk Plan

Adopted by Board of Selectmen: February 20, 2001


The goal of this sidewalk policy is to set guidelines for the town to create a long-term unified pedestrian transportation network. A further goal is to increase pedestrian use of roadways, improve pedestrian safety and encourage non-polluting forms of transportation by developing structural traffic mitigation strategies to reduce dependence on motor vehicles.


The rapid growth in Falmouth and the ensuing increase in traffic have led to a significant need for additional sidewalks in many areas of the town. In areas where there has been a significant increase in the school age population, the lack of sidewalks raises serious safety issues for the students who walk to school or to parks, e.g. Skateboard Park on Gifford Street, after school. The lack of sidewalks also contributes to increased spending on public services, especially in the Education Department where an extensive busing program is needed to service the hundreds of bus stops throughout town. Buses must often stop at every house with a school-aged child along major roads that lack sidewalks. The construction of additional sidewalks can lead to the elimination of school bus stops, as students would be able to walk to a stop, making it possible to combine stops that are close to one another. Fewer bus stops will improve traffic flow on major roads.

Prioritization and funding of sidewalk project requests.

The sidewalk prioritization list is to be updated annually by the Department Of Public Works and presented to the Falmouth Selectman for approval. The sidewalk prioritization shall rank according to the Falmouth road classification system (Class A, B, C, and D). Department Of Public Works will coordinate with the Planning Office as required.

The funding level for constructing and refurbishing sidewalks each year should be between $60,000 and $100,000. At the discretion of the selectmen, funding should come from a combination of warrant articles, budgetary line item and Chapter 90 funds. The construction and schedules will necessarily change due to fluctuations in funding, updated traffic counts, accident reports and the addition of other locations that rate a higher priority.


To address the need for additional sidewalks a needs analysis is required. The goal is to determine and prioritize future sidewalk locations in town. The process of determining where additional sidewalks are needed involves identifying a number of factors, which included the following:

· Location of pedestrian oriented land uses e.g., schools, shopping centers, swimming areas, public services, and public land, parks, skateboard/baseball recreation areas and bicycle paths.

· Automobile traffic volume on public roads that are heavily traveled and represent a hazard to pedestrians. Roads that have average annual daily traffic counts of over 2,000 vehicles per day fit in this category.

· Input from School Transportation Coordinator concerning schools, school walk zones, school bus routes and stops.

· Location of connecting roads that carry through traffic or that connect existing sidewalk networks.

· Identify peak traffic locations during school commuting hours.

Design Issues

The design of the recommended sidewalks is an important issue to the overall sidewalk policy. Poorly designed sidewalks can result in inefficient networks and under-use. One important factor in the design of sidewalks is the side of the road the sidewalk is constructed on. This is particularly important to the School Department, especially on high traffic roads. A sidewalk should be constructed on the side of the road where it would be most beneficial to pedestrians, and wherever feasible should be constructed on both sides of the road in high traffic areas.

Another important issue on high traffic roads is the use of crosswalks. Marked crosswalks should be used when a sidewalk crosses a roadway, particularly on high traffic roads and near intersections. At signaled intersections in high traffic areas crossing lights should also be installed whenever feasible. In addition stanchions warning signs and rumble strips should be considered, especially where short sight lines are present.

State and federal laws also influence the design of sidewalks. Massachusetts's regulations state that if a sidewalk is placed less than two feet from the road pavement, curbing must be used on the edge of the road. Curbing acts as a barrier between the vehicles and pedestrians, adding a measure of safety; however, it is expensive and substantially adds to construction costs. Curbing is hazardous to bicyclists using the roadway adjacent to sidewalks that have curbing. The cyclist must ride closer to the center of the road in order to avoid hitting the raised curbing with his pedals. This exposes the cyclist to increased danger.

Where enough road right-of-way exists to provide at least two (2) feet minimum of separation between the road and sidewalk, curbing could be avoided. It is recommended that a four foot separation be used to the maximum extent feasible, this adds safety and is aesthetically more pleasing to the pedestrian, particularly if trees are retained between the road and sidewalk. An example of a well-designed sidewalk that is set back from the road is the pathway along Davisville Road, where there was sufficient right-of-way to allow for the set back. Where enough road right-or-way to provide a four-foot separation does not exist, an option is to acquire easements on private property for the construction and use of the sidewalks. This is often difficult, particularly when there are large numbers of property owners involved; however, this approach has been successful in a number of cases in other Cape towns. Easement is most likely to be needed on older roadways, which have been widened several times and now lack appropriate right-of-way area. An additional law regulating the construction of sidewalks is the Federal Americans with Disabilities Act, which states that sidewalks along public transportation routes must be at least four feet five inches in width. Sidewalks are generally constructed at this width to allow for proper maintenance. It is recommended that all sidewalks be at least five feet in width, wherever feasible and appropriate.

Sidewalks should be viewed as multi-purpose pathways and constructed as such, (see multi-purpose path way section below). This includes the use of sidewalks by the casual cyclist and the pedestrian accessing services or recreational activities, and the use of the sidewalk as a transportation route. Sidewalks should also complement existing and proposed bike paths.


The implementation of the sidewalk plan is important and difficult. The large number of sidewalks needed is a long-range goal and will likely take many years to complete. Its completion, however, will have lasting beneficial effects to the town's residents.

Costs and available funding usually dictate the number of sidewalks that are built over a particular time period. As stated above, sidewalks requiring curbing are much more costly than sidewalks set back a minimum of two feet from the road. Funds for sidewalk construction can be acquired by means other than traditional tax base revenues. For example, many transportation program grants and other grants are periodically available from both the State and Federal Government that can be used to fund sidewalk construction. Acquiring these funds should be a priority whenever possible. When roadway construction is planned additional review of the advisability of installing sidewalks shall be made part of the overall planning process.

Multi Purpose Pathway (Pedestrian Path)

The Transportation Management Commission (TMC) will make preliminary long-term assessments of possible multi-purpose pathway locations. The primary long-term goal is to create a unified network in which pathways are linked with one another. The multi-purpose pathway is intended for use by pedestrians, roller-bladers and casual bicyclists. These paths should complement existing and recommended sidewalks. The design and width of the multi-purpose pathways is a very important issue, and will greatly influence the amount and type of use the path way receives. The town-engineering department on a case-by-case basis shall determine the width and specific design parameters of the pathways.

Bicycle, roller-bade, scooter and pedestrian travel needs are to be given high priority in the town of Falmouth. Parcels of land that can contribute to the development of recreational travel corridors providing links to existing or potential travel routes, should, be considered in the town land purchases.

Sidewalk Snow Removal

The DPW in conjunction with the school department safety office will determine the order of priority for removing snow from walks within a one-mile radius of each school. Because of the large variability in local weather conditions and availability of snow removal equipment, the DPW and Falmouth School Department Safety Office should operate on a storm-by-storm and school-by-school basis.

Other sidewalk snow removal plans shall be prioritized by the Department of Public Works. The prioritized list is to be updated annually and approved by the Selectmen.


Pedestrian - Any person afoot or riding on a conveyance moved by human power, except bicycles.

Sidewalk - That portion of a street or highway set aside for pedestrian travel.

Multi Purpose Pathway (Pedestrian Path) - A bituminous concrete paved path intended for use by pedestrians as well as the casual roller-blader and bicyclists.

Crosswalk - That portion of a roadway ordinarily included within the prolongation or connection of curb lines and property lines at intersection, or at any portion of a roadway clearly indicated for pedestrian crossing by lines on the road surface or by other markings or signs.

Safety Zone - Any area or space set aside within a roadway for the exclusive use of pedestrians and which has been indicated by signs, lines or markings, having the written approval of the Department of Public Works, Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Traffic Control Signal - Any device using colored lights, which conforms to the standards, as prescribed by the Department of Public Works of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, whether manually, electrically or mechanically operated, by which traffic may be alternately directed to stop and to proceed.

Road Classification

Class A. Major Regional Roadways - Major regional roadways consist of limited access roadways and other roadways that provide mobility to and within heavily developed commercial areas

Class B. Regional Roadways with Scenic and Historic Values - This category of roadway consists of regional roads that have scenic and historic values Inherent to Cape Cod that must be preserved. Such roadways often provide access to a mix of residual and small commercial areas.

Class C. Local Roadways of Regional Significance - These are roads that typically serve local traffic but provide mobility between towns. Area development is often characterized primarily by residential uses.

Class D. Other Local Roadways - These are roads that typically serve local traffic.