In an urban setting, a skyway, catwalk, or skywalk is a type of pedway consisting of an enclosed or covered bridge between two buildings. This protects pedestrians from the weather. These skyways are usually owned by businesses, and are therefore not public spaces (compare with sidewalk). Skyways usually connect on the second or third floor (American numbering convention), though they are sometimes much higher, as in Petronas Towers (though this skyway is often referred to as a sky bridge). The space in the buildings connected by skyways is often devoted to retail business, so areas around the skyway may operate as a shopping mall. Non-commercial areas with closely associated buildings, such as university campuses, can often have skyways and/or tunnels connecting buildings.

The world's largest skyway network – Calgary, Alberta's "+15 Walkway" system – has a total length of 16 km (10 miles). However, the system is discontinuous, and it does not connect every downtown building. The largest continuous network of skyways – the Minneapolis Skyway System – spans 8 miles connecting 69 blocks in downtown Minneapolis. Other cities in the Midwest, such as Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Rochester, and Saint Paul also have significant skyway systems. On a smaller scale, terminals of large airports are often connected by skywalk systems, as at Manchester Airport, United Kingdom.

Some cities have the equivalent of a skyway underground, and many locales have mixed subway/skyway systems; see underground city.

Early examples of skywalks

* Copenhagen, Denmark: skywalk connecting courts building to adjacent uses, 18th century
* Faaborg, Funen, Denmark: skywalk in centrum, 18th century
* Venice, Italy, Bridge of Sighs, connects Doge's Palace and prison, 16th century

Environmental factors

Besides pedestrian safety and convenience, the chief reasons assigned by urban planners for skywalk development are decrease of traffic congestion, reduction in vehicular air pollution and separation of people from vehicular noise. A number of cities (for example, Spokane, Washington) have given intricate analysis to skywalk systems employing computer models to optimize skywalk layout ("Carbon monoxide dispersion analysis in downtown Spokane", ESL Inc., Sunnyvale, (1973))

List of cities with notable systems

More cities and details: Montgomery, Michael R. and Richard Bean, "Market Failure, government failure, and the private supply of public goods: the case of climate-controlled walkway networks," in PUBLIC CHOICE, Vol. 99 (1999), pages 403-437, whose abstract may be seen [ here] .

See also

*Pedestrian separation structure


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