side walk

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Old street with sidewalk in Güstrow (2017)

A sidewalk is that part of a street that is intended for pedestrian traffic.


side walk
Artistically designed sidewalk (approx. 19th century) in Berlin-Bohnsdorf

The term sidewalk is not clearly delimited and is not used in all German-speaking countries, colloquially and sometimes legally, the following can be understood as a sidewalk :

  • a pedestrian walkway or a footpath as a structure approved or suitable only for pedestrian traffic ,
  • a sidewalk , gangway , sidewalk or a sidewalk , which is usually separated from the main roadway by a curb / curb or by a strip of grass and runs parallel to it.


In the administrative regulation for the road traffic regulations, the word "walkway" is sometimes used in accordance with the colloquial use for the part of the road for pedestrians, as it also corresponds to the StVO, but in one place for the entire traffic area next to the roadway (correct: side room, whatever Location at board level can also include parking spaces along the road, tree locations, etc.).


A walkway according to § 2 para. 1 StVO a particular for pedestrian traffic and labeled as such way, however, is a sidewalk , a certain for pedestrian traffic, from the roadway by curbs, road markings or the like defined part of the road.


The pedestrian path is called footpath in German-speaking Switzerland , the sidewalk is the pavement (cf. Art. 43 SVG or Art. 44 VRV ); this is also the common everyday term. The French word Trottoir is based on the verb trotter (to trot ) and the suffix -oir (from Latin -orium, the place where something takes place). A sidewalk is a place where people trot. The word sidewalk is unknown in Switzerland.

Road construction guidelines


Basic dimension of the side space
Basic requirements for the width of the side room
A temporary sidewalk at a construction site is separated from the roadway with barriers

In traffic science, the area next to the lane is referred to as the side area because it also includes a safety area to the lane that is not part of the pedestrians' area of ​​movement. The safety distance to the road is usually 0.5 m. The sidewalk area begins next to it.

In 2002 the Research Association for Roads and Transport - FGSV - published the " Recommendations for Pedestrian Traffic Systems - EFA 2002". Based on current research projects on the space requirements of pedestrians, these recommendations formulate minimum requirements that a sidewalk must meet:

  • It must be possible for two pedestrians to meet , even with umbrellas . Two pedestrians who meet each other must have sufficient distance between them.
  • It should also be taken into account that an average of 46% of pedestrians carry a piece of luggage, a bag or the like.
  • An overtaking slower people who just wander for example, must be possible.
  • Around 40% of pedestrians are on the move as a couple or a large group.
  • There must be a distance to the house wall.
  • The safety distance to the road must be guaranteed; The traffic signs are also set up in this safety area.
  • Children riding bicycles (see above) must not be a hazard.
  • The usability of the sidewalks also includes taking into account the requirements of people with disabilities. To ensure accessibility , it must be possible for two wheelchair users to meet.
  • Age-friendly building is also becoming increasingly important. People with walkers should also pass each other.
  • The usability also includes the possibility of meeting two people with prams.
  • Sidewalks also have social functions such as residence. The appropriate space must also be available for this.

The minimum requirement, referred to as basic equipment, in the recommendations for pedestrian traffic systems of the FGSV is a side room width of 2.5 m. Under certain conditions (see illustration) it is also possible to deviate from these minimum requirements.

However, there are surcharges for this basic equipment if there are built-ins or plants in the side room. The aggregates are, for example, in shop windows 1,0 m, m the case of trees 2.0-2.5, in public transport - stops at least 1.5 m, at spaces for bicycles according to installation angle of between 1.5 m and 2.0 m. If there are oblique or vertical parking spaces, a surcharge of 0.75 m is added due to the vehicle overhang.

If the demands of foot traffic are higher, the width of the sidewalk must of course be correspondingly larger. This is for example in shopping streets , the case where the number of pedestrians is greater and also the function of stay is higher. More people linger in front of the shop windows here. There is a clear correlation between usage on the street and the amount of pedestrians using the street. Building density also plays an important role here. In the recommendations for pedestrian traffic systems of the FGSV, different basic requirements are specified for different road types.

The transverse slope of sidewalks should not exceed the 2.5% required for drainage in order to avoid the need for wheelchair users to counteract. This is to be observed in particular with property driveways.


In August 2004 the “ RVS 3.12 - Pedestrian Traffic Information Sheet ” was published by the Research Association for Roads and Traffic .

The sidewalk area is differentiated between the actual traffic area, which must be kept free of obstacles, and a clear area to the right, left (and above) of the traffic area. This clear space is for receiving z. B. provided by traffic signs and also serves as a protective strip to the road. The protective strip to the roadway varies depending on the permissible vehicle speed on the roadway between 0.25 m (at 30 km / h and less), 0.5 m to 50 km / h and above 1.0 m.

There are also width surcharges, e.g. B. for the vehicle overhang in vertical or sloping parking spaces (0.5 m), for shop windows and showcases (1.0 m), for common areas at public transport stops (at least 1.5 m), parking spaces for bicycles parked lengthways (0, 8 m) and bicycles parked sideways (2.0 m). The actual traffic area should generally have a width of at least 2.0 m.

The minimum standard cross-section for a sidewalk in a street with a permissible 50 km / h is then 2.5 meters.

With higher numbers of pedestrians (in pedestrians per hour), the necessary traffic area can then be determined using a map. There is a bandwidth (traffic quality) between narrow and comfortable pedestrian traffic. With 1000 pedestrians per hour, the traffic area can be between 2.7 m and 3.4 m wide. Then there are the width surcharges.

Conflicts with other uses

Sidewalk in Gouda (Netherlands)

The areas for pedestrians are often used for other uses. The mixed use is part of the quality of urban life and the associated conflicts are part of urbanity . In certain cases, crampedness and crowding can even be an expression of liveliness. Sidewalks are also protective areas for pedestrians. A pair of pedestrians does not want to keep avoiding third parties on their way; Sidewalks should also have a pleasant atmosphere. In particular, the requirements for accessibility must also be observed.

Ban on use by vehicles in Germany

Vehicles are not allowed to use the sidewalks. This results from § 2 StVO : "Vehicles must use the lane ...". There is an exception for children with bicycles . Children up to the age of eight must, children up to the age of ten are allowed to use sidewalks with bicycles. If there is a cycle path that is structurally separated from the road, then, in deviation from sentence 1, children up to the age of eight may also use this cycle path. If a child up to the age of eight is accompanied by a suitable supervisor, this supervisor may also use the sidewalk by bicycle for the duration of the accompaniment; a supervisor is particularly suitable if they are at least 16 years old. Special consideration must be given to those walking. Pedestrian traffic must neither be endangered nor hindered. If necessary, the speed must be adapted to the pedestrian traffic. Before crossing a lane, the children and the person accompanying them must dismount.
“Special means of transport” ( § 24 StVO) are not designated as vehicles . This includes push and reach wheelchairs, toboggan sleds, strollers, scooters, children's bicycles and similar means of transport, as well as people with inline skates . Unless otherwise regulated, they must use the sidewalks. The general ban is lifted if use is expressly permitted, e.g. B. through a signposted common footpath and bike path .

Cycling on sidewalks

Cycle path in Mögeldorf , district of Nuremberg

Often, cycle paths were laid out as so-called curb cycle paths on areas that were formerly available to pedestrians as part of the sidewalks . This shifts conflicts from the roadway to the sidewalk. The speed differences between the two types of traffic are usually high. Pedestrians move at a speed of 1.8 km / h (elderly, handicapped people) to around 6.5 km / h, cyclists at around 14 to 40 km / h. The potential for conflict between the two groups of road users is correspondingly high; Children need more attention because of their inexperience. For elderly or visually impaired people, the almost silently approaching bicycles are a potential hazard. This conflict is certainly evidence in accidents, although the number of unreported cases is high in these groups of road users by the police unreported accidents.

In general, a distinction must be made between three different forms:

Cycle path with obligation to use or cycle path without obligation

It is true that separate areas are provided for both types of transport, which are usually only considered to a limited extent because of the often ambiguous dividing line. The separation is usually done by a road marking on the traffic area, rarely by different types of material such as asphalt for one half and paving stones for the other or even, as is common in Denmark , by a separate board between the sidewalk and bike path or a green strip. For the blind often applied only by marking bike paths are the white cane is not palpable, so that the scheme as "not accessible" must be called. The 1997 amendment to the VwV-StVO specified minimum widths for cycle paths, but not minimum requirements for sidewalk widths. In the meantime, this has even led to pavement areas being reduced even further in order to comply with the administrative regulations. It can also be observed that “cycle paths without mandatory use” are being created. This was not originally intended when the administrative regulation was amended.

Common footpaths and bike paths

Where sufficiently wide curb cycle paths and sidewalks are not possible next to each other, common sidewalks and cycle paths are often created. Cyclists are obliged to use this. There are clear specifications for this regulation in the regulations of the FGSV , such as the recommendations for bicycle traffic facilities , ERA 2010 as well as the guideline for the construction of city streets , RASt 06, that they are only used from certain widths and only when there is little pedestrian and bicycle traffic may. Often, the common footpath and cycle path, especially after objections from the cycling associations or complaints from individual cyclists, was converted into “walkway, cycle traffic free”. Here there is a right of use for cycling, but no longer an obligation to use this route. Cyclists can also use the lane here.

Sidewalk / cyclists free

Special route for pedestrians
Cyclists free

Sidewalks are increasingly being opened up for cyclists in the municipalities . However, according to the administrative regulation for Z 239 StVO, the release of sidewalks for cyclists is "only considered if this is justifiable taking into account the interests of the pedestrians."

In a 1997 study it was found that on average over 80% of all cyclists make use of the option of using a sidewalk if it is open for cycling. The average speed of cyclists on cleared sidewalks at that time was around 15 km / h, only slightly below the usual speed when using the lane and well above the walking speed permitted at the time . Even in the event of an encounter with pedestrians, the average speed was 14 km / h. The walking speed stipulated in the StVO was never observed afterwards.

In a joint position paper of the ADFC e. V. Regional Association of Thuringia and Association of the Blind and Visually Impaired Thuringia e. V. is stated: “Both associations see the fundamental separation of bicycle and pedestrian traffic as the only relevant problem solution. All traffic planning options are to be used. The implementation of this requirement is ultimately not only in the safety interests of cyclists and pedestrians, but in the interests of all road users. "

Parking on sidewalks

The freedom of movement of pedestrians is also restricted by illegal parking or parking permitted by traffic signs . Often even the minimum widths according to the road construction guidelines (see above) are not complied with. In extreme cases it is even no longer possible to use it for people with prams or wheelchairs. Vehicles on sidewalks are always a problem for blind people with white canes because they do not have clear leading edges. There is also a clear correlation between the designation of parking area markings on parts of the sidewalk and prohibited parking on parts of sidewalks.


Designated parking on sections of the sidewalk with sign 315 in Homberg (Efze)

In Germany, special regulations apply to parking, so that you are generally not allowed to park on sidewalks , unless this is permitted by the sign 315 "Parking on sidewalks" or a corresponding parking area marking. For both cases, however, the following applies: "Parking on sidewalks may only be permitted [by the competent administrative authority] if there is enough space for unhindered pedestrians, if necessary with prams or wheelchair users, also in oncoming traffic, the sidewalks and the lines below through the parked vehicles cannot be damaged and access to lines cannot be impaired ”(Regarding sign 315 Parking on sidewalks and Annex 2 serial number 74 parking area markings VwV-StVO ).

An existing parking permit on sidewalks with the sign 315 or a parking area marking is always limited to vehicles with a maximum permissible total weight of 2.8 t ( Appendix 2 No. 74 and Appendix 3 No. 10 StVO) and does not apply “over manhole covers and others Closures ”( Section 12 Paragraph 3 No. 4 StVO). Administrative offenses due to unauthorized sidewalk parking can be punished in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Ordinance on Fines Catalog ( Section I, No. 52a ff. Of the Annex to the BKatV ).

In practice, however, illegal sidewalk parking is often ignored by the responsible authorities. For example, the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Transport had to instruct the regulatory authorities of several cities through the respective regional councils to change this illegal procedure. Previously, in Ulm, for example, parking was illegal on sidewalks in over a quarter of the streets.


In Austria, the general rule is "Stopping and parking is prohibited if pedestrians, especially people with prams or disabled people with wheelchairs, are prevented from using a sidewalk, a sidewalk or a sidewalk and cycle path." ( Section 24 Paragraph 1 lit . o StVO ) but "If the setting up of vehicles on sidewalks is planned due to floor markings, only vehicles with a total weight of no more than 3,500 kg may be set up on these areas." ( § 23 Para. 2 StVO) Charging activities can be permitted by means of a permit ( § 62 StVO).


In Switzerland there is a general parking ban on sidewalks (sidewalks), unless signals or markings expressly permit this. Without such a signal, you may only stop on the pavement to handle goods or to let people in and out; A space at least 1.50 m wide must always be left free for pedestrians. ( Art. 41 para. 1bis VRV)

Other obstacles

Unfavorable location for built-in sidewalks. Here: Stresemannplatz in Nuremberg
Pedestrian path in Dresden (Gruna) - October 2018

Garbage cans parked on sidewalks are a particular obstacle for people with prams or handcarts. They then often have to move onto the road .

Fittings such as distribution cabinets from energy supply and telecommunications companies hinder pedestrian traffic in many places. The same applies to the increasingly common mail distribution cabinets . Also post exclude that were specially set up around the obstruction of pedestrians by parking vehicles, in turn, can interfere with pedestrian traffic. Unrenovated sidewalks in many cities pose a significant risk of tripping and falling for the elderly and disabled.

Little curbs , raised sidewalks that rise more than 50 centimeters above the adjacent carriageway create a risk of accidents for pedestrians.

Special use of sidewalks

The sidewalks may be used for other purposes on the basis of an official permit for special use if there is enough space for pedestrians. This is up to each church to decide. Then u can there. a. an outdoor catering facility is operated, poster and advertising stands are placed on the sidewalk. Retailers that without special use permit sales displays, special stalls set up or billboards, act illegally and create additional obstacles for pedestrians.


The cover of Beatles c from 1969 documents the parking of a VW Beetle partly on the sidewalk in front of the recording studio.


  • Dankmar Alrutz , Wolfgang Bohle: Pedestrian demands for space . Federal Highway Research Institute - Issue V71, Bergisch Gladbach 1999
  • W. Angenendt, M. Wilken: Sidewalks with possibilities of use for cyclists . In the series of research on road construction and road traffic technology , issue No. 737, Bonn 1997
  • Dirk Bräuer, Werner Draeger, Andrea Dittrich-Wesbuer: Foot traffic - a planning aid for practice . Institute for State and Urban Development Research - Module 24, Dortmund 2001
  • Dirk Bräuer, Andreas Schmitz: Basics of pedestrian traffic planning . In the Handbook of Municipal Transport Planning , Heidelberg 2004
  • Research Association for Roads and Traffic: Leaflet RVS 3.12 Pedestrian Traffic . Vienna 2004
  • Research Society for Roads and Transportation: Recommendations for Pedestrian Traffic Systems - EFA 2002 , Cologne 2002
  • Angelika Schlansky, Roland Hasenstab, Bernd Herzog-Schlagk: Walking moves the city - the benefits of pedestrian traffic for urban development . Berlin 2004, ISBN 3-922504-42-6
  • Wendelin Mühr: Design of pedestrian crossings and their specific planning requirements . In the road traffic technology series , issue No. 5, Bonn 2009

Web links

Commons : Walkways  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Walkway  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Trottoir  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Research Society for Roads and Transportation on Recommendations for Pedestrian Traffic Systems , EFA 2002
Working group on foot traffic
Foot e. V.
Road traffic regulations
Administrative regulation for the road traffic regulations
Research Association for Roads and Transport
Pedestrian traffic in Switzerland
Encounter zones (Switzerland)
Conflicts pedestrian and bicycle traffic
Position paper from 2002 (PDF) ADFC e. V. Regional Association of Thuringia and Association of the Blind and Visually Impaired Thuringia e. V.

Individual evidence

  1. Appendix 2 No. 20 to Section 41, Paragraph 1 of the StVO, line
    20 of the table: Separate cycle and walkways
    1. Cyclists are not allowed to use the road, but must use the cycle path of the separate cycle path and sidewalk (obligation to use cycle path).
    2. No other traffic is allowed to use it.
      The sign also identifies the sidewalk (Section 25, Paragraph 1, Clause 1). [Here "walkway" only stands for the pedestrian path]
  2. Administrative regulation on § 2 Use of Roads by Vehicles , Paragraph 4 Clause 2
    I. General
    1. Cycle paths that must be used are ... parts of separate cycle lanes and sidewalks intended for bicycle traffic [According to this formulation, it can be assumed that the part intended for pedestrian traffic is to be designated as a sidewalk.]
    II. Obligation to use cycle paths
    1. b) "the sidewalk can be separated or used jointly by bicycle traffic and pedestrian traffic" (here "sidewalk" is used for the entire traffic area next to the road)
  3. Administrative regulation for sign 239 of the road traffic regulations
  4. ^ W. Angenendt, M. Wilken: sidewalks with possible uses for cyclists . In the series of research on road construction and road traffic technology , issue No. 737, Bonn 1997
  8. 3 Abbey Rd, Paddington, London, United Kingdom, accessed March 27, 2020.