Sidewalk Extension Without Construction

Pedestrian Zone

Posted on :
Jan 4 2024

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In recent years, walkability has become a major drawing point for downtown and shopping areas. Everyone wants to live in a pedestrian-friendly city where strolling from shop to shop is a safe and pleasant experience. Of course, not all roadways are designed to offer a relaxing commercial stroll, and no one has the budget to fully redesign the streets for wider sidewalks and better-protected roadways. Until now. Introducing a sidewalk extension without construction with the pedlet.

MODSTREET has been innovating modular structures that enhance local businesses and their communities. What began as a bump-out installation has since grown to encompass more than just one restaurant and storefront at a time. Pedlets are modular walkable deck spaces that provide both protected sidewalks and terrace space for local businesses. 

What is a Pedlet?

A Pedlet is a pedestrian-friendly sidewalk extension that extends the storefront of a local business while also providing safe and relaxing through traffic. Pedlets evolved from simple parklet design. For those who do not yet know, a parklet is when a business extends bistro dining or venue space that overtakes a portion of the sidewalk and street. Parklet are quite popular in downtown areas where lively restaurants, bars, and clubs increase their capacity with breezy outdoor space. However, parklets also have a few downsides that Pedlets were designed to overcome.

Parklets can impede traffic, narrow roadways, and many cities like Durango, CO develop extra fees to discourage bump-outs in city streets. Pedlets are the solution.

A Pedlet extends the width of a street\’s sidewalk or creates a sidewalk where there is none. It is a modular sidewalk extension made with steel decking modules and protective railing so that pedestrians can safely walk alongside a busy roadway, enjoying a relaxing stroll along local shops while reducing risk for both people and cars in close proximity. Essentially, Pedlets create a boardwalk-style experience on any street, extending bistro dining and venue space while inviting foot traffic that boosts the economic growth of the entire area.

Durango’s Growth with Pedlets

In Durango, CO, many popular venues were using bump-outs to create terrace dining and venue space. However, the city was not fond of the side-effects of these popular outdoor structures. Bump-outs were reducing parking meter revenue and increasing traffic congestion where they narrowed the lanes of traffic. As a result, Durango increased the fees for bump-outs to $6.30 per square foot, which was not feasible for many small local businesses.

However, Durango has had a long-standing bistro table program, in which businesses could place a few tables against their own storefront to create terrace dining. 

Pedlets offered the solution by extending the pedestrian walkway space instead of creating a blocked-off bump-out. Many restaurants that were forced to close up their bump-out discovered the possibilities of expanding the sidewalk with Pedlet boardwalk-style decking instead. With Pedlets, the sidewalk is widened using a modular deck system, turning any commercial strip into a more welcoming and walkable shopping hub. This way, an entire row of local shops can expand into the sidewalk, enhancing traffic rather than blocking the limited walking space.

Modular Deck Walkway Design

Pedlets begin with a modular deck system. Each pathway is created with modular decking and panels that can be easily laid and locked into place. Adjustable foot height makes it possible to create level walkways that line up with the curbside edge or overlap the curb, even when the roads themselves are not even.

Once the decking is laid, a panel railing system is added. The railing system clearly defines the edge of the pedestrian space, providing comfort, protection, and simple design elegance to the new urban boardwalk. 

Because the entire system is modular, Pedlets can be adapted to any shape or design of shopping area. Railings can break or corner at any point, adapting to the space and providing opportunities to cross the street at safe intersections or crosswalks.

Easy Maintenance and Design Updates

Pedlets are built to last, but they are not permanent structures. They not only require no construction to install, but they also allow for easy access to the street or sidewalk below for any maintenance needs. Each decking module can be lifted up just in case there\’s a manhole cover, storm drain, or other feature that needs work where the Pedlet is installed.

Due to the same design flexibility, you can also update your Pedlets any time a change is desirable. If the next few businesses on your street want to join, they can help invest in a longer Pedlet and the existing boardwalk can be extended. If you gain a bump-out license, Pedlet design can be expanded for a section to occupy a larger width of the street.

Making Streets Safer for Families and Nightlife Alike

Pedlets also inherently make city streets safer for families and even a more lively nightlife culture. During the day, families can safely walk along a Pedlet-lined shopping area because the railings will help keep children out of the street and invite businesses to extend their domains into the sidewalk. Seating areas, food stands, and extra lighting tend to make any commercial area more inviting.

Pedlets also provide a more protected pedestrian area for bars, clubs, and late-night shops. Partygoers can walk in groups and lean on the railing with far less risk of getting lost or stumbling into the street. Pedlets can be used to define a safe and maintained area where very business along the boardwalk helps to watch over pedestrian customers, which uplifts the entire neighborhood.

Increasing Handicap Accessibility

Handicap accessibility in downtown areas can sometimes be a challenge. Steep curbs and cracked pavement can make it difficult for the mobility-limited to navigate, whether they are in a wheelchair or must walk carefully with every step. Pedlets, however, offer the smooth and flawless pathway of an engineered deck. The Pedlet can be more safely navigated by wheelchairs and the flat surface combined with safe railing make it more welcoming.

Protection from the Road and Preventing Pedestrian Accidents

Pedlets are designed to resist impacts from vehicles going up to 20-30 miles an hour. This not only makes them quite durable for roadside structures, but also a protective measure for pedestrians. Accidents can happen, whether a driver is distracted, intoxicated, or dodging a cat in the road. The structure and railing of Pedlets both keeps pedestrians from straying into the road and protects pedestrians from being hit by cars that stray from their lanes.

Building Up Communities with Pedlet Walkways

Wide pedestrian-friendly sidewalks have a natural way of boosting local communities and commerce. With a wider walkway, restaurants can place bistro seating along their storefronts for friendly open-air terrace dining. Street performers can set up in open spaces with plenty of room for happy people to walk by or stop and listen. Stores can place product displays around their doors and groups of friends can gather where benches and railings provide a place to rest.

Using Pedlets, local shops can work together to increase the walkability and appeal of their commercial streets. Rows of shops can become a family-friendly shopping center. Bars and restaurants can become one big shared venue where guests float happily from one experience to the next. Pedlets can turn a busy street into a safe place to walk and relax, and can turn a narrow sidewalk into a community space.

Where there is room, Pedlets can help turn broken pavement into a boardwalk space where people can gather and relax. These are a great way to enact urban renewal and to breathe new life into commercial streets without the need for heavy construction. In a single afternoon, a Pedlet sidewalk extension can be installed in front of one shop, three shops, or fifty shops along the same street. Pedlets on both sides of the street can create a shopping district where customers feel renewed safety and relaxation, crossing only where breaks in the railing indicate safe crosswalks between protected and welcoming boardwalk pathways.

Introduce Pedlets to Your City

If your street could be revitalized with wider, more welcoming, and protected walkways, Pedlets may be the answer. Pedlets are easy to install, and businesses can come together to create a mutually beneficial walking path that provides terrace space and enhances the natural charm of the neighborhood. 

To learn more about Pedlets, barricades, fencing, and parklets, don\’t hesitate to reach out to MODSTREET today. Contact us any time, and we will gladly help you design custom modular solutions to enhance your space.


Public spaces must be inclusively designed, equitably distributed, and open to everyone. This means planning, designing, and developing them to meet users\’ needs and preferences. To achieve this, you must engage the people who use a particular space and establish their needs and aspirations, an approach called placemaking. 

Placemaking aims to transform urban spaces into an experience. It adds humanity to an area, transforming it from a functional space to a place that fosters community and social connection. From town centers and streets to parks and sidewalks, placemaking enables us to shape our neighborhood, city, or region to maximize shared value.

What Is Placemaking?

Placemaking is compared to UX design, but instead of products and services, it focuses on collectively reinventing public spaces to contribute to the community\’s health, happiness, and well-being. The goal behind the concept goes beyond promoting better urban design to ensuring people connect with the places they share. Placemaking capitalizes on the local communities\’ assets, such as religion, language, traditions, and values, to create holistic quality places. Places where people feel they belong and like they have a stake in.

Placemaking emerged in 1960 when Jane Jacob and Willian Whyte proposed designing cities that curate to people instead of emphasizing automobile connectivity. A decade later, architects, planners, and landscapers started to develop parks, squares, and plazas that attracted people and their activities. In 1975, Fred Kent, an American urbanist and the founder of Project for Public Spaces (PPS), defined it as a multifaceted approach to the planning, designing, and management of public areas. Kent further simplifies its meaning with phrases like community-driven, dynamic, inclusive, adaptable, visionary, context-driven, transdisciplinary, transformative, collaborative, sociable, and function before form.

Placemaking and Streetscapes

Placemaking can transform a variety of spaces for different functions. One common form of placemaking is streetscape. Streetscape refers to an urban area\’s roadway and sidewalk design and how it impacts its users (residents and visitors). It includes both a street\’s natural and artificial elements and its experiential quality.

Streets are the lifeline of any town or city. They are a crucial city element that not only provide access to places but also signify the public life of a place. Streetscaping should be subjected to a rigorous approval process to ensure that the landscape designs people interact with while walking, driving, cycling, or running are functional and encourage connection, understanding, and a sense of community for the users.

Streetscaping is a blank canvas for placemaking, allowing you to design cohesive, human-centered streets. Streetscapes range from small to large designs and should take into consideration the following:

  • Ease of accessibility and navigation for the users
  • Separation for different functions, including vehicle and pedestrian lanes
  • Include essential safety features such as proper signage
  • Preserve the scenery so that users can quickly identify points of interest from the streets
  • Have a distinct design that gives the place a sense of originality

Successful placemaking requires balancing stakeholder priorities, including urban planners, architects, businesses, community leaders, and residents. The community is considered the expert since they are well positioned to present valuable perspectives and insight about the areas\’ culture, function, and any other meaningful aspect to include in the street design. 

Fundamental Principles and Strategies of Placemaking

There are 11 principles that apply when transforming public spaces into community places. These include:

  • The community should be the expert in informing placemaking decisions. The people who use the spaces regularly are best positioned to provide valuable insights into how the area functions.
  • Design is an essential component of placemaking but is not the only factor. Every element used in a space should serve a purpose to make the whole more significant than the sum of its parts.
  • Creating an excellent public space requires a collaborative effort. You will need partners to offer ideas, financial or political support, and help in the planning process.
  • Avoid guesswork and instead learn through observation to identify missing elements or adjust existing ones to meet people\’s preferences.
  • Good placemaking requires a vision. 
  • Don\’t expect to get everything right from the get-go. The best places result from minor, continuous improvements that are tested and refined over time. For instance, start by including physical elements of a street, like a bench or a footpath, and then later, you can add more features or subtract as needed.
  • Triangulate to establish the relationship between separate elements within a space and how you can arrange them to achieve a desired effect. For example, a bench or coffee kiosk near a bus stop will illicit a behavior pattern. People will buy coffee to indulge as they wait or get comfortable on the bench.
  • Expect to come across obstacles. 
  • The financial costs of placemaking are often not as significant as the benefits.
  • There is no definite end to a placemaking process. People are constantly evolving, and thus, the need to continually improve places to adapt to new behaviors, trends, conditions, and preferences.

Tips for Placemakers and the Future of Placemaking

Placemaking is still a growing urban development concept, so there is no telling what it will evolve to or how much it can change in the years to come. What remains clear is that understanding how a sense of place can influence communities\’ physical, social, emotional, and ecological health is essential for building great places. 

Additionally, the success of placemaking relies on outstanding leadership and action on all levels. A single entity cannot have all the answers; you must allow room for experimentation and collaboration. People of all ages, abilities, and socio-economic backgrounds can form a collective vision to help re-imagine spaces and turn them into places. 

 MODSTREET is committed to helping businesses and communities reinvent their streetscape. We provide a range of high-quality, flexible outdoor parklets and other modular products to transform spaces into places for a variety of functions. Whatever your placemaking vision is, we can help you achieve it with our range of existing products, or you can request a custom order, which we support with designing and manufacturing. 

Final Thoughts

Just like UX design focuses on the users, the community should be at the heart of placemaking. You should implement placemaking in your community engagement initiatives to customize approaches to existing issues, such as the need for more green spaces or areas to relax. To do so, you will need to pay close attention to the various ways in which a place\’s physical, social, ecological, cultural, and spiritual qualities closely intertwine with users. This is because a great public place cannot be measured by the amenities it offers alone. It must also serve the community as a vital resource from which function always trumps.

Get in touch for more information.