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Footway and footpath works – look after pedestrians

Where footways and pedestrian areas are affected by street works and road works, it is your responsibility to make sure that pedestrians passing the works are safe. This means protecting them from both the works and passing traffic.

You must take into account the needs of children, older people and disabled people, having particular regard for visually impaired people. In order to do this you must provide a suitable barrier system (see the Pedestrian barriers section of this Code) that safely separates pedestrians from hazards and provides a safe route suitable for people using wheelchairs, mobility scooters, prams or pushchairs. Always be on the lookout for pedestrians who seem confused or who are having difficulty negotiating a temporary route, and be prepared to offer assistance.

Safe routes for pedestrians

If your work is going to obstruct a footway or part of a footway, you must provide a safe route for pedestrians that should include access to adjacent buildings, properties and public areas where necessary. This route must consider the needs of those with small children, pushchairs and those with reduced mobility, including visually impaired people and people using wheelchairs or mobility scooters.

You should always try to enable pedestrians to remain safely on the footway if at all possible. Ideally, the footway should be a minimum of 1.5 metres wide for temporary situations but if this cannot be achieved, the existing footway can be reduced to an absolute minimum of 1 metre unobstructed* width. Where the existing footway is narrower than 1 metre, you are not required to provide an alternative footway wider than the existing footway, but you should consider whether this is possible.

If it is not possible to maintain safe pedestrian access on the footway, consider whether there are other safe alternatives. This could mean, for example, closing the footway and placing a ‘Footway closed’ sign at the works and an advance ‘Footway closed ahead’ sign at a location where it is safe for people to cross the road (possibly with the use of portable pedestrian crossing facilities). It may be necessary to provide footway ramps on either side of the road at this location. Another alternative, at attended sites only, could be to preserve safe access for the majority of pedestrians and to offer assistance to those who might find a reduced width more difficult to navigate, including wheelchair or mobility scooter users, visually impaired people, or people with pushchairs.

If it is not possible to maintain safe pedestrian access on the footway and a safe off-carriageway alternative cannot be found, you should provide a walkway in the carriageway. In general a minimum 1.2 metre width of walkway should be provided (this allows for a visually impaired person being guided), with an absolute minimum of 1 metre unobstructed* width. It is recommended that a wider walkway be provided if it can be done without resulting in a road closure or a reduction to shuttle working.

*It is not permitted for barrier feet or other equipment to obstruct this space.

Warning: Where the minimum footway width of 1 metre on the footway cannot be maintained, you must consult your supervisor, manager or other competent person. Where a road closure or pedestrian lights are required, the highway authority must be informed and appropriate orders or permissions obtained.

All pedestrian routes must be fit for purpose and able to be used safely by all pedestrians, including older people and disabled people. These routes should be properly drained and have adequate headroom. Surfaces should be reasonably smooth without steep gradients or crossfalls. A suitable barrier should be placed between a pedestrian route and any adjacent drops or steep slopes.

Footway boards may be used on footways to maintain a route for pedestrians and provide light vehicle access to premises during excavation works.

Walkways in the carriageway

You should provide a walkway in the carriageway only if it is not possible to maintain safe pedestrian access on the footway and a safe off-carriageway alternative cannot be found. When temporary pedestrian routes have to be placed in the carriageway, make sure the signing and guarding barriers are put into place before the footway is blocked. Make sure the sideways clearance (S) of the safety zone is on the traffic side of the barriers.

When pedestrians are diverted to temporary walkways in the carriageway, suitable ramps or raised footway boards must be provided to enable people using wheelchairs or pushchairs to negotiate kerbs safely. The layout should allow wheelchair and scooter users to enter and exit a temporary walkway safely. Ramps and boards must be fit for purpose – see sections on Footway ramps and Footway boards.

Protecting pedestrians during works

If the works are on or near a footway, then there is a risk that pedestrians might enter the working space. This could happen if they trip and fall into the working space, because they make a mistake and take the wrong route, or because they deliberately enter the space.

The working space will often contain a number of hazards that could harm pedestrians. For example, pedestrians might trip over material, fall into excavations or be struck by moving or falling equipment. You must ensure that they are adequately protected against being exposed to these risks. You must also take into account the needs of children, elderly people and people with disabilities, having particular regard to visually impaired people.

At all static works, pedestrians must be protected by a continuous system of barriers.

Where a works site can be approached by pedestrians crossing from the opposite side of the road, you should place barriers all around the excavation, even when pedestrians are not diverted into the carriageway.

Most barriers are designed to be put up as part of a system. If not properly erected, they will not be sufficiently stable and could be blown or knocked over. You must follow the manufacturer’s instructions when erecting barriers. If you are unable to correctly install the barriers available, you should contact your supervisor, manager or other competent person before starting work.

The use of portable traffic signals is covered in the section Traffic control by portable traffic signals of this Code. Guidance on portable pedestrian crossing facilities can be found in Traffic Advisory Leaflet 3/11: Signal-controlled pedestrian facilities at portable traffic signals. If you are considering the use of portable traffic signals incorporating pedestrian facilities, the highway authority must give prior written approval.

Whilst you are working at a site:

  • keep checking that signs and barriers are still in place;
  • make sure that materials or machinery do not go above or move into the pedestrian space;
  • if you need to move barriers or signs to allow access to the works, replace them as soon as possible (whilst they are open you must have someone at the opening to prevent pedestrians from entering); and
  • keep a lookout and if you see pedestrians entering the working space, stop all machinery movements immediately and escort the pedestrians back onto a safe route.

Unattended works

If it is necessary to leave a site unattended, then remove as many hazards from the site as you can before leaving it. For example:

  • remove or securely immobilise all plant and machinery;
  • remove as much equipment and material as possible. Make sure any that is left on site is stored in a tidy manner and in such a way that it cannot fall, be knocked over or tampered with.

If an unattended site contains an open excavation within 2 metres of a temporary or permanent footway, then you should consider either:

  • putting temporary covers over the excavation (see the Temporary covers over excavations section of this Code); or
  • providing an enhanced barrier around the excavation;

unless a site specific risk assessment shows that such additional protection is not justified.

Short delays on footways

Sometimes works are required that temporarily restrict or prevent the free passage of pedestrians past the works (traffic-sensitive times are to be avoided whenever possible). Such activities include the collection and delivery of materials, and limited excavation or reinstatement activities. In some circumstances it will not be possible to provide an alternative footway because of restricted widths or other factors. A temporary obstruction of the footway is permissible if ALL the following apply:

  • no alternative footway is available or can be provided;
  • the footway is closed for no longer than absolutely necessary, and in any case no longer than 15 minutes in every full hour;
  • sufficient operatives are available at all times to advise, assist and direct footway users safely past the works;
  • pedestrians requiring assistance need wait no longer than 5 minutes for help;
  • all overhead operations are suspended when assisted pedestrians pass the works;
  • temporary footway closure signs are placed a recommended minimum of 20 metres in advance of the works; and
  • the highway authority has been notified and agrees with the use of this measure.

Special consideration must be given to disabled people (including wheelchair or mobility scooter users) and people with pushchairs or prams at all times.

Warning: This measure should only be used with the agreement of the highway authority and after consultation with your supervisor, manager or other competent person and an on-site risk assessment has been undertaken.

Pedestrian crossings and pedestrianised areas

For works on or near a pedestrian crossing, see the Works at pedestrian, cycle (Toucan) and equestrian crossings section for advice. In pedestrianised areas the working space and vehicles, plant or materials, must be enclosed by pedestrian barriers.

If you are planning works using a shuttle lane, you can find further guidance on the use of portable traffic signals or portable pedestrian crossing facilities in Traffic Advisory Leaflet 2/11: Portable traffic signals for the control of vehicular traffic and Traffic Advisory Leaflet 3/11: Signal-controlled pedestrian facilities at portable traffic signals.

Temporary closure of a footpath

Where it is necessary to close an independent footpath (i.e. not adjacent to a carriageway), a Temporary Traffic Regulation Order or Temporary Traffic Notice will be required in a similar way to when a carriageway is closed. Pedestrian access to all properties and premises must be maintained at all times.

Works entirely on the footway
Works entirely on the footway Notes
  1. Advance signs are not required when the works, signing, lighting and guarding are entirely on the footway.
  2. 1.5 m preferred minimum unobstructed width, 1.0 m absolute minimum.
Works on footway with pedestrian diversion into carriageway
Works on footway with pedestrian diversion into carriageway Notes
  1. For numbers and minimum size of cones, and dimensions D, T, L, S and E, see table in the Setting out site section of this code.
  2. An information board (omitted here for clarity) must be displayed.
  3. Wheelchair ramps must be provided at the transition from footway to carriageway.
  4. See the Traffic control section of this Code for guidance on unobstructed width past the works.
  5. Additional pedestrian barriers may be provided parallel or at right angles to the kerb, as site conditions require, to guide pedestrians past the works.