Shared Use Facilities

"Shared Use" or "Multi-Use" facilities are those where bicyclists share a facility with pedestrians and other non-motorized modes of travel such as equestrians, cross country skiers, in-line skaters, baby strollers, and those using motorized scooters and wheelchairs. These facilities are commonly referred to as 'trails' outside of a roadway right-of-way, and 'sidepaths' when located inside the road right-of-way.

Use restricted trails are commonly recreation related and located outside of the roadway right-of-way. The use restriction is generally created by the narrow width and steep grades of the path which limit the use to one user type (typically pedestrians within homeowner association maintained or hiking trails), but may also be limited to equestrians and/or mountain bikers to reduce potential user conflicts as determined by recreational programming.

Both of these facility types provide for a safe means of transport for both transportation and recreation purposes away from vehicular traffic and are valuable commodities contributing to the health and well-being of any community in which they are located.

This design element refers to both multi-use and use restricted paths applicable to both bicyclists and/or pedestrians.

Multi-Use Trails

Chestser Valley Trail
The Chester Valley Trail in East Whiteland Township.

Multi-Use trails typically have a hard surface (e.g., asphalt, concrete, compacted gravel, etc.) and have a recommended width per AASHTO of 10', although a minimum width of 8' may be used where space is constrained or in environmentally sensitive areas. Wider paths are also recommended if there is a high volume of existing or anticipated bicycle and pedestrian traffic.


Sidepaths are a subset of shared use paths that denote paths that run adjacent to a parallel roadway and can provide bicycle connections between on- and off -road facilities. Due to being located either within or directly adjacent to the roadway right-of-way with the potential for multiple vehicular crossings, these facilities often require a more in-depth operational and safety analysis.

Use-Restricted Trails

Use-restricted trails are those that limit the allowable user groups based on one or more of the following factors: grades, surfacing, widths, potential user-conflict, ownership, and/or programming.

Steep grades of more than 8.33% limit universal (ADA) accessibility. Surfacing other than a smooth hard surface such as concrete or asphalt may not only limit ADA accessibility, but also certain bicyclists, in-line skaters,persons with baby strollers and those using other wheeled human-propelled transportation. Use-restricted trails can be narrower than the minimum standard for a multi-use trail (less than 8 feet wide). The width is a limiting factor towards the capacity of the trail to safely accommodate both pedestrians and bicyclists (or in-line skating, equestrians, and other uses) resulting in the potential for user conflict. This is why the most common restriction for these trails is for pedestrian use only. These trails can be hiking only, equestrian only, mountain biking only, or a combination thereof. Trails that may be used by potentially conflicting user groups may be managed through programming. For example, trails intended for both equestrian and mountain biking use may alternate days for when these user groups will have access to the trail system. Other programming limitations may be relative to ownership, such as trail systems that are privately developed and managed by homeowners association that may limit who and what user types will have access to their trails.

Use Restricted path
A use-restricted path in East Goshen Township

Use-restricted trails would be the most common trail standard to be developed as part of an internal trail system associated with a planned residential development. The minimum width for a multi-use trail (8 feet) may not be warranted or desired by the developer or residents of those communities. While the CCPC encourages the development of trails to the multi-use standard wherever possible, the minimum width for trails to be developed as part of a planned residential development should be 5 feet, the same standard as for internal walkways.

See also the PEDESTRIAN FACILITIES design element.

Mid-Block Crossings

A mid-block crossing permits pedestrians to cross a road at a location other than an intersection. These crossings require special engineering analysis to determine their appropriateness and effectiveness. Section 11.9 of the PennDOT Traffic Engineering Manual (Pub. 46) establishing criteria for mid-block crossings including roadway speed limit, traffic volume, sight distance, parking restrictions, proximity to other crossings, and pedestrian volume.

With some exceptions based on the specific conditions of any location, the following are PennDOT's general minimum requirements for the installation of a mid-block crossing:

mid block crossing
A pedestrian uses the mid-block crossing
feature on the Chester Valley Trail in West
Whiteland Township.

PennDOT encourages these same criteria for locally owned roadways. For state-owned roads, a mid-block crosswalk engineering and traffic study is required to record the study's findings.



View a PDF of this Design Element.

View a PDF of the entire Multi-Modal Handbook.