Safety for pedestrians

Safety for pedestrians includes a number of aspects: 

Safety from vehicles 

Safety from hazards on the footpath 

Safety from other people

Safety from other users 

  • Feeling vulnerable when walking close to fast moving traffic, particularly heavy vehicles 
  • Conflicts with vehicles at crossings, intersections and driveways 
  • Falling or slipping over on uneven surfaces 
  • Falling into the roadway
  • Colliding with street furniture and footpath clutter
  • Narrow footpaths with overgrown greenery, lack of space and visibility
  • Dark streets, poor lighting
  • Isolated paths away from the street, without public surveillance eg: bridges, overpasses and underpasses
  • Bikes, scooters, skateboards and micro-mobility users using the path at a faster speed
  • People walking their dogs 

To learn more about the Safe System approach and NZ’s road safety strategy

PNG: A Safe System for walking

Safety from vehicles

For information on pedestrian safety from vehicles:

PNG: A Safe System for walking

Safe system aligned measures for pedestrians either separate pedestrians from motor vehicles or ensure impact speeds in the case of a collision are no greater than 30km/h.

PNG: Safe system design

Safety from hazards on the footpath

Pedestrians walking or jogging on footpaths, stepping off kerbs and crossing roadways can fall, slip trip or stumble. For further information on this issue:

PNG: Falls – slips, trips and stumbles

Safety from other people

Personal security issues can be a major barrier to walking and creating walkable communities, especially during hours of darkness, in town centres, through underpasses, and on paths through parks, reserves or car parks.

Real and perceived risks of crime and anti-social behaviour can be deterrents to walking.

People who are concerned about perceived dangers, may modify their travel behaviour by not going out alone after dark or avoiding certain areas or routes. Parents, because of perceived danger, may also modify their children’s behaviour by not allowing them to walk without adult supervision.

Personal security issues can also create a barrier to accessing public transport services on foot.

I am visually impaired and often rely on strangers to assist me when out in public. I don't go out at night often as I don't feel safe. I want to be more independent and be able to meet friends for dinner.


Personal security issues should be considered in three general areas:

  1. The environment should be legible, with pedestrians able to see and understand their immediate surroundings and those ahead.
  2. Pedestrians should be visible to others, particularly other pedestrians.
  3. Pedestrians should be provided with alternative safe, obvious and step-free routes to avoid potentially threatening situations.

Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) provides a framework for incorporating crime prevention within quality urban design by focusing on reducing the opportunity to commit crime, therefore lessening the motivation to offend.

Applying the practices in this guide will address pedestrians’ personal security. Additional advice can be found in the National guidelines for crime prevention through environmental design in New Zealand[1] which identifies seven qualities of safer places. These qualities are:

  • Access
  • Surveillance and sightlines
  • Layout
  • Activity mix
  • Sense of ownership
  • Quality environments
  • Physical protection

Guidance on CPTED Audits is available from the Ministry of Justice website:

National Guidelines for Crime Prevention through Environmental Design in New Zealand - Part 2: Implementation Guide(external link)

Safety from other users

People on faster moving devices such as bicycles and electric scooters on paths can affect the safety and comfort for other pedestrians. This is an important consideration in environments such as shared paths and shared spaces, or streets where a lack of appropriate facilities for people using micromobility and bicycles results in them using a footpath or a narrow shared path which then has a negative impact on slower moving pedestrians.

It is important to consider the typical speeds and physical space requirements of different users.

PNG: Physical space and walking speed

PNG: Shared paths, shared areas and trails