Design Considerations

for Family-Oriented Trails

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When infusing play into an existing or planned pathway, consider the context and variables that may affect the eventual play outcome by evaluating these design considerations for playful pathways.


Form:
While linear forms may be more suitable for cyclists, curving forms make the pathway more exploratory for children due to anticipatory excitement. Looping forms and playful pockets of activity add further interest and ways to explore.
Location:
Climate, physiographic, urban vs rural, and institutional contexts are all location aspects to consider.
Access:
What is the modal mix for access? Is the corridor length too long or short? How does the path connect to other meaningful  destinations and is safe exploration facilitated?
Usability:
Tread slope, surface, and width should be considered to ensure all user groups are included.
Safety:
Is the path separated from traffic? What is the neighborhood context, level of maintenance, and visibility along the pathway?
Jurisdiction:
Public pathways may cross jurisdictions and complicate the process of approvals. Private paths may similarly be affected by regulations.

For the full best practice guide to Playful Pathway design, learn more in our Pathways for Play program here.

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