General Information on Pedestrian Bridges

The Public Design Commission encourages lightness, simplicity, and transparency in the design of pedestrian bridges. When multiple pedestrian bridges cross a roadway, the Commission generally supports consistency in design. These recommendations are not intended to discourage bolder design statements or the use of innovative materials when appropriate.

The Commission supports limiting the use of protective 8’ fencing to those bridges where there is clear potential for vandalism and fencing is therefore required by code and recommended by American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials guidelines. If it is unclear whether 8’ fencing is needed, the Commission encourages bridge designs that include the ability to add fencing at a later date, if it becomes necessary.

Strategies that seek to improve pedestrian bridge design encouraged by the Commission include:

  • minimizing the visual impact of all railings, including handrails and guardrails, by using minimum dimensions that meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements;
  • utilizing materials for handrails and other design details that are sympathetic to the overall bridge design;
  • using the minimum number of structural supports possible; and
  • minimizing the dimensions of the structural supports as much as possible.

Strategies that minimize the visual impact of the 8’ protective fencing encouraged by the Commission include:

  • using consistent fence details throughout, particularly at the connection between the bridge and the ramps;
  • maximizing the size of the fence opening, preferably to 2” wherever possible (when a smaller opening or solid panel is required, such as for fencing over an electric rail line, written documentation of the requirement should be submitted); and
  • minimizing the framing structure.