A sidewalk, or pavement, footpath, footway, and sometimes platform, is a path along the side of a road. A sidewalk may accommodate moderate changes in grade (height) and is normally separated from the vehicular section by a curb (British English: kerb). There may also be a road verge (a strip of vegetation, grass or bushes or trees or a combination of these) either between sidewalk and the roadway (British English: carriageway) or between the sidewalk and the boundary.
The most common term in everyday usage is pavement. The professional, civil engineering and legal term for this is footway. Legally the term footpath is only used for paths that do not abut a carriageway.
In professional and common usage, the term shared-use path is used where cyclists are also able to use the same section of path as pedestrians. The term Segregated footway can be used for a shared-use path where separate parts of the path are allocated to cyclists and pedestrians. Cycle Track is the legal term for both of these.
According to the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (third edition 1933) the term sidewalk was still in occasional use in the UK and pavement was also used for: 'a piece of paved work'; 'the superficial covering of a floor, yard, street etc.' as well as for 'the paved part of a public thoroughfare, but now only the paved footway by the side of the street'.
Walkway is a more comprehensive term that includes stairs, ramps, passageways, and related structures that facilitate the use of a path as well as the sidewalk. The term pathway is used for pedestrian paths that are not next to a road.
The state of the roads in British urban towns was a matter of considerable concern in the 17th-18th centuries and a number of 'Paving Acts' (Acts of parliament) were passed although they were not always effective as was the case of the 1623 Act for Colchester.
Sidewalks play an important role in transportation for people who do not drive, notably children, the elderly and economically disadvantaged.
Sidewalks may have a small effect on reducing vehicle miles traveled and carbon dioxide emissions. A study of sidewalk and transit investments in Seattle neighborhoods found vehicle travel reductions of 6 to 8% and CO2 emission reductions of 1.3 to 2.2% 
Road traffic safety
Research commissioned for the Florida Department of Transportation, published in 2005, found that, in Florida, the Crash Reduction Factor (used to estimate the expected reduction of crashes during a given period) resulting from the installation of sidewalks averaged 74%. Research at the University of North Carolina for the U.S. Department of Transportation found that the presence or absence of a sidewalk and the speed limit are significant factors in the likelihood of a vehicle/pedestrian crash. Sidewalk presence had a risk ratio of 0.118, which means that the likelihood of a crash on a road with a paved sidewalk was 88.2 percent lower than one without a sidewalk. “This should not be interpreted to mean that installing sidewalks would necessarily reduce the likelihood of pedestrian/motor vehicle crashes by 88.2 percent in all situations. However, the presence of a sidewalk clearly has a strong beneficial effect of reducing the risk of a ‘walking along roadway’ pedestrian/motor vehicle crash.” The study does not count crashes that happen when walking across a roadway. The speed limit risk ratio was 1.116, which means that a 16.1-km/h (10-mi/h) increase in the limit yields a factor of (1.116)10 or 3.
The presence or absence of sidewalks was one of three factors that were found to encourage drivers to choose lower, safer speeds.
On the other hand, the implementation of schemes which involve the removal of sidewalks, such as shared space schemes, are reported to deliver a dramatic drop in crashes and congestion too, which indicates that a number of other factors, such as the local speed environment, also play an important role in whether sidewalks are necessarily the best local solution for pedestrian safety.
Riding bicycles on sidewalks is discouraged since it is more dangerous than riding in the street. Some jurisdictions prohibit sidewalk riding except for children. In addition to the risk of cyclist/pedestrian collisions, cyclists face increase risks from collisions with motor vehicles at street crossings and driveways. Riding in the direction opposite to traffic in the adjacent lane is especially risky.
Since residents of neighborhoods with sidewalks are more likely to walk, they tend to have lower rates of cardiovascular disease, obesity, and other health issues related to sedentary lifestyles. Also, children who walk to school have been shown to have better concentration.
Contemporary sidewalks are most often made of concrete in the United States and Canada, while tarmac, asphalt, brick, stone, slab and (increasingly) rubber are more common in Europe. Different materials are more or less friendly environmentally: pumice-based trass, for example, when used as an extender is less energy-intensive than Portland cement concrete or petroleum-based materials such as asphalt or tar-penetration macadam). Multi-use paths alongside roads are sometimes made of materials that are softer than concrete, such as asphalt.
In the 19th century and early 20th century, sidewalks of wood were common in some North American locations. They may still be found at historic beach locations and in conservation areas to protect the land beneath and around, called boardwalks.
In the United States and Canada, the most common type of sidewalk consists of a poured concrete ribbons, examples of which from as early as the 1860s can be found in good repair in San Francisco, and stamped with the name of the contractor and date of installation. When quantities of Portland cement were first imported to the United States in the 1880s, its principal use was in the construction of sidewalks. Today, most sidewalk ribbons are constructed with cross-lying strain relief grooves at placed at regular intervals typically 5 feet (1.5 m) apart. This partitioning, an improvement over the continuous slab, was patented in 1924 by Arthur Wesley Hall and William Alexander McVay who wished to minimize damage to the concrete from the effects of tectonic and temperature fluctuations, both of which can crack longer segments. The technique is not perfect, as freeze-thaw cycles (in cold-weather regions) and tree root growth can eventually result in damage which requires repair.
Brick sidewalks are found in some urban areas, usually for aesthetic purposes. Brick sidewalk construction usually involves the usage of a mechanical vibrator to lock the bricks in place after they have been laid (and/or to prepare the soil before laying). Although this might also be done by other tools (as regular hammers and heavy rolls), a vibrator is often used to speed up the process.
Tarmac and asphalt
In the United Kingdom, Australia and France suburban pavements are most commonly constructed of tarmac, which is however not environmentally friendlier. In urban or inner-city areas pavements are most commonly constructed of slabs, stone, or brick depending upon the surrounding street architecture and furniture.
Stone slabs called flagstones or flags are sometimes used where an attractive appearance is required, as in historic town centres. In other places, pre-cast concrete slabs (called paving slabs or, less correctly, paving stones) are used. These may be coloured or textured to resemble stone.
A sidewalk with street trees in Oak Park, Illinois, USA
- Big Apple Pothole and Sidewalk Protection Committee
- Curb, Curb ramp
- Desire lines
- Moving walkway
- Portuguese pavement
- Public space
- Sidewalk chalk
- "Parking on pavements". Lewisham Council. Retrieved 2010-10-29. "Why is pavement parking a problem? Pavements are constructed and provided for pedestrian use. Vehicles parked on pavements are: a hazard to pedestrians causing an obstruction which may result in them having to step off the pavement onto the highway thus putting themselves in danger..."
- "Highways Act 1980 - Interpretation Section 329". "““footway” means a way comprised in a highway which also comprises a carriageway, being a way over which the public have a right of way on foot only"
- "Inclusive mobility". Department for Transport. Retrieved 2010-04-02. "The distinction between a footway and a footpath is that a footway (usually called the pavement) is the part of a highway adjacent to, or contiguous with, the carriageway on which there is a public right of way on foot. A footpath has no contiguous carriageway. Where reference is made to one, it can generally be regarded as applying to the other for design purposes"
- "Highways Act 1980 - Interpretation Section 329". "“cycle track” means a way constituting or comprised in a highway, being a way over which the public have the following, but no other, rights of way, that is to say, a right of way on pedal cycles [F3 (other than pedal cycles which are motor vehicles within the meaning of F4 the Road Traffic Act 1988 with or without a right of way on foot"
- Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (3rd edition).
- Shared-use paths, U.S. Department of Administration
- "Walkway". Compact Oxford English Dictionary.
- "Georgian Colchester". British History. Retrieved 2010-04-05. "Bad paving and obstructions were frequently reported to the justices under a paving Act of 1623, but the borough chamberlain, workhouse corporation, and parish officers failed to discharge their responsibilities and the small fines for neglect were ineffective. Enforcement of the Act by the borough justices ceased when the charter lapsed in 1741 and by 1750 the streets were so ruinous that a new Act was obtained, which perpetuated the responsibility of justices to enforce the regulations"
- "Research Note: An Assessment of Urban Form and Pedestrian and Transit Improvements as an Integrated GHG Reduction Strategy". Washington State Department of Transportation. April 2011.
- Gan, Albert; Joan Shen, Adriana Rodriquez (2005). Update of Florida Crash Reduction Factors and Countermeasures to Improve the Development of District Safety Improvement Projects (PDF). State of Florida DOT. BD015-04. Retrieved 2008-03-24.
- McMahon, Patrick J.; Charles V. Zegeer, Chandler Duncan, Richard L. Knoblauch, J. Richard Stewart, Asad J. Khattak (2002). AN ANALYSIS OF FACTORS CONTRIBUTING TO "WALKING ALONG ROADWAY" CRASHES, RESEARCH STUDY AND GUIDELINES FOR SIDEWALKS AND WALKWAYS (PDF). Federal Highway Administration. FHWA-RD-01-101. Retrieved 2008-03-24.
- John N. Ivan, Norman W. Garrick and Gilbert Hanson (November 2009). DESIGNING ROADS THAT GUIDE DRIVERS TO CHOOSE SAFER SPEEDS. Connecticut Transportation Institute.
- "Do you take unnecessary risks behind the wheel?". Which?. 2011-01-05. Retrieved 2011-01-27. "The town of Drachten removed most of its street furniture, signs and markings in 2003 and recorded a dramatic fall in accidents and traffic congestion as a result"
- Lisa Aultman-Hall and Michael F. Adams, Jr. (1998). "Sidewalk Bicycling Safety Issues". Transportation Research Record (1636).
- "Bicycle sidepaths: Crash risks and liability exposure: Evidence from the research literature". 8 December 2010. Retrieved 2011-09-17.
- "Crimes of the Heart". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 2/6/2013.
- "The Link Between Kids Who Walk or Bike to School and Concentration". The Atlantic Cities. Retrieved 2/6/2013.
- Hampson, Rick (2006-09-20). "Sidewalks bounce back". USA Today.
- Robert W. Lesley. "What Cement Users Owe To The Public". The Cement age: a magazine devoted to the uses of cement: 652. Unknown parameter
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- Mario Theriault, Great Maritime Inventions - 1833-1950, Goose Lane Editions, 2001, p. 73
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Sidewalks|
- Los Alamos Walkability Advocacy Group
- PEDS a member-based advocacy group dedicated to making metro Atlanta safe and accessible for all pedestrians.
- Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC), a U.S.A.-based clearinghouse for information for pedestrians (including transit users) and bicyclists.