A footbridge (also called a pedestrian bridge, pedestrian overpass, or pedestrian overcrossing) is a bridge designed for pedestrians and in some cases cyclists, animal traffic, and horse riders, instead of vehicular traffic. Footbridges complement the landscape and can be used decoratively to visually link two distinct areas or to signal a transaction. In many developed countries, footbridges are both functional and can be beautiful works of art and sculpture. For poor rural communities in the developing world, a footbridge may be a community's only access to medical clinics, schools and markets, which would otherwise be unreachable when rivers are too high to cross. Simple suspension bridge designs have been developed to be sustainable and easily constructible in such rural areas using only local materials and labor.
An enclosed footbridge between two buildings is sometimes known as a skyway. Bridges providing for both pedestrians and cyclists are often referred to as greenbridges and form an important part of sustainable transport movement towards more sustainable cities. Footbridges are often situated to allow pedestrians to cross water or railways in areas where there are no nearby roads to necessitate a road bridge. They are also located across roads to let pedestrians cross safely without slowing down the traffic. The latter is a type of pedestrian separation structure, examples of which are particularly found near schools, to help prevent children running in front of moving cars.
Small footbridges can also be used for a technical effect in ornamental gardens.
Types footbridges include:
Simple suspension bridge
The residential-scale footbridges all span a short distance and can be used for a broad range of applications. Complicated engineering is not needed and the footbridges are built with readily available materials and basic tools.
Different types of design footbridges include:
Footbridges can also be built in the same ways as road or rail bridges; particularly suspension bridges and beam bridges. Some former road bridges have had their traffic diverted to alternative crossings and have become pedestrian bridges; examples in the UK include The Iron Bridge at Ironbridge, Shropshire, the Old Bridge at Pontypridd and Windsor Bridge at Windsor, Berkshire.
Most footbridges are equipped with guard rails to reduce the risk of pedestrians falling. Where they pass over busy roads or railways, they may also include a fence or other such barrier to prevent pedestrians from jumping, or throwing projectiles onto the traffic below.
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