Global Street Design Guide

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Global Street Design Guide

Multimodal Streets Serve More People

Great street designs move, hold, and serve more people within the same space.

Streets must be designed to serve different modes and provide multiple mobility options for its users.

Multimodal streets offer people options for safe, attractive, and convenient travel by foot, by cycle, on transit, as well as in motorized vehicles.

Multimodal streets help to make cities more efficient. A reduction of private cars on streets has a direct link to reduced production of greenhouse gases, related to climate change. This shift also helps in increasing space for commerce and public use, and contributes to a better quality of life and economic growth.

Multimodal Streets Move More People

Multimodal streets move more people. Repurposing street space for more efficient travel modes increases the total street capacity while reducing personal motorized vehicles.

This reduces time spent commuting, thereby increasing productive time that contributes to economic growth.

Multimodal Streets are Accessible to More People

A multimodal street network allows people to tailor their trip by their preferred mode of travel. Multimodal streets provide better accessibility to locations within the citywide transit and cycling networks, which can enhance the adjoining neighborhoods and improve property values. This can help invite new businesses and services to  improve the overall quality of life.

Multimodal Streets Support Local Businesses

Street projects that improve safety and encourage multimodal use have positive economic effects, such as higher retail sales and improved property values.1 Moreover, people who walk or cycle often spend more at local retail businesses than people who come to an area by car, underscoring the economic importance of offering attractive, safe spaces for transit riders, pedestrians, and cyclists.

Multimodal Streets are More Environmentally Sustainable

Multimodal streets provide infrastructure for sustainable modes like walking and cycling, which can help lower carbon emissions by reducing vehicular exhaust, thereby improving overall air quality and reducing a city’s contribution to climate change.

Car-Oriented Street

The capacity of car-oriented streets and multimodal streets.
These two diagrams illustrate the potential capacity of the same street space when designed in two different ways. In the first example, the majority of the space is allocated to personal motor vehicles, either moving or parked. Sidewalks accommodate utility poles, street light poles and street furniture narrowing the clear path to less than 3 m, which reduces its capacity.

Multimodal Street

In the multimodal street, the capacity of the street is increased by a more balanced allocation of space between the modes. This redistribution of space allows for a variety of non-mobility activities such as seating and resting areas, bus stops, as well as trees, planting and other green infrastructure strategies. The illustrations show the capacity for a 3-m wide lane (or equivalent width) by different mode at peak conditions with normal operations.


1. New York City Department of Transportation, The Economic Benefits of Sustainable Streets (New York, NY: NYC DOT, 2014).GLOBAL STREET DESIGN GUIDE 369

2. Jacques K. and Levinson H., “Operational Analysis of Bus Lanes on Arterials,” TCRP report 26 (2001): 25.Ryus Paul et al., “Transit Capacity and Quality of Service Manual,” TCRP Report 165 (2013).National Association of City Transportation Officials, Transit Streets Design Guide (Washington, DC: Island Press, 2016).

Adapted by Global Street Design Guide published by Island Press.

What is Possible

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What is Possible