Footbridge

Wooden footbridge with a worker busy at its consolidation, in Laos
A footbridge in Shaharah District, Yemen

A footbridge (also a pedestrian bridge, pedestrian overpass, or pedestrian overcrossing) is a bridge designed solely for pedestrians.[1] While the primary meaning for a bridge is a structure which links "two points at a height above the ground", a footbridge can also be a lower structure, such as a boardwalk, that enables pedestrians to cross wet, fragile, or mashy land.[2] Bridges range from stepping stones–possibly the earliest man-made structure to "bridge" water–to elaborate steel structures. Another early bridge would have been simply a fallen tree. In some cases a footbridge can be both functional and a beautiful work of art.

For rural communities in the developing world, a footbridge may be a community's only access to medical clinics, schools and markets. Simple suspension bridge designs have been developed to be sustainable and easily constructed in such 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 a sustainable transport system.

Footbridges are often situated to allow pedestrians to cross water or railways in areas where there are no nearby roads. They are also located across roads to let pedestrians cross safely without slowing traffic. The latter is a type of pedestrian separation structure, examples of which are particularly found near schools.

Early history

Stepping stones, across the River Rothay, in the Lake District, England

The simplest type of a bridge is stepping stones, so this may have been one of the earliest types of footbridge. Neolithic people also built a form of a boardwalk across marshes, of which the Sweet Track, and the Post Track are examples from England, that are around 6000 years old.[3] Undoubtedly ancient peoples would also have used log bridges; that is a timber bridge[4] that fall naturally or are intentionally felled or placed across streams. Some of the first man-made bridges with significant span were probably intentionally felled trees.[5]

Among the oldest timber bridges is the Holzbrücke Rapperswil-Hurden crossing upper Lake Zürich in Switzerland; the prehistoric timber piles discovered to the west of the Seedamm date back to 1523 B.C. The first wooden footbridge led across Lake Zürich, followed by several reconstructions at least until the late 2nd century AD, when the Roman Empire built a 6-metre-wide (20 ft) wooden bridge. Between 1358 and 1360, Rudolf IV, Duke of Austria, built a 'new' wooden bridge across the lake that has been used to 1878 – measuring approximately 1,450 metres (4,760 ft) in length and 4 metres (13 ft) wide. On April 6, 2001, the reconstructed wooden footbridge was opened, being the longest wooden bridge in Switzerland.

A clapper bridge is an ancient form of bridge found on the moors of Devon (Dartmoor and Exmoor) and in other upland areas of the United Kingdom including Snowdonia and Anglesey, Cumbria, Yorkshire and Lancashire. It is formed by large flat slabs of stone, often granite or schist, supported on stone piers (across rivers), or resting on the banks of streams. Although often credited with prehistoric origin, most were erected in medieval times, and some in later centuries.[6] A famous example is found in the village of Postbridge. First recorded in the 14th century, the bridge is believed to have been originally built in the 13th century to enable pack horses to cross the river. Nowadays clapper bridges are only used as footbridges.

The Kapellbrücke is a 204-metre-long (669 ft) footbridge crossing the River Reuss in the city of Lucerne in Switzerland. It is the oldest wooden covered bridge in Europe, and one of Switzerland's main tourist attractions. The bridge was originally built c. 1365[7] as part of Lucerne's fortifications.

An early example of a skyway is the Vasari Corridor, an elevated, enclosed passageway in Florence, central Italy, which connects the Palazzo Vecchio with the Palazzo Pitti. Beginning on the south side of the Palazzo Vecchio, it then joins the Uffizi Gallery and leaves on its south side, crossing the Lungarno dei Archibusieri and then following the north bank of the River Arno until it crosses the river at Ponte Vecchio. It was built in five months by order of Duke Cosimo I de' Medici in 1565, to the design of Giorgio Vasari.

Bank Bridge is a famous 25 metre long pedestrian bridge crossing the Griboedov Canal in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Like other bridges across the canal, the existing structure dates from 1826. The special popularity of the bridge was gained through angular sculptures of four winged lions crowning the abutments. They were designed by sculptor Pavel Sokolov (1764-1835), who also contributed lions for Bridge of Lions.

Other Languages
العربية: جسر مشاة
čeština: Lávka
dansk: Gangbro
español: Puente peatonal
한국어: 보도육교
íslenska: Göngubrú
italiano: Ponte pedonale
Nederlands: Voetgangersbrug
日本語: 人道橋
norsk: Gangbro
polski: Kładka
português: Ponte pedonal
Simple English: Footbridge
slovenčina: Lávka
svenska: Gångbro
Türkçe: Üst geçit
українська: Пішохідний міст
Tiếng Việt: Cầu bộ hành