Global Street Design Guide

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Table of Contents

Global Street Design Guide

The Global Street Design Guide crystallizes a new  approach to street design that meets the challenges of today and the demands of tomorrow. Based on the principle that streets are public spaces as well as arteries for movement, the guide foregrounds the role of the street as a catalyst for urban transformation.

It reinforces the tactics and techniques being pioneered by the world’s foremost urban engineers and designers.

In an urban context, street design must meet the needs of people walking, cycling, taking transit, doing business, providing city services, and driving, all in a constrained space.

The following principles are key to shaping great streets.

Streets for Everyone
Design streets to be equitable and inclusive, serving the needs and functions of diverse users with particular attention to people with disabilities, seniors, and children. Regardless of income, gender, culture, or language, whether one is moving or stationary, streets must always put people first. See: Designing Streets for People.

Streets for Safety
Design streets to be safe and comfortable for all users. Prioritize the safety of pedestrians, cyclists, and the most vulnerable users among them: children, seniors, and people with disabilities. Safe streets have lower speeds to reduce conflicts, provide natural surveillance, and ensure spaces are safely lit and free of hazards. See: Safe Streets Save Lives.

Streets are Multidimensional Spaces
Design the street in space and time. Streets are multidimensional, dynamic spaces that people experience with all their senses. While the ground plane is critical, the edges and the canopy play a large role in shaping a great street environment. See: Immediate Street Context and Sidewalks-Building Edges and Facades.

Streets for Health
Design streets to support healthy environments and lifestyle choices. Street designs that support active transportation and integrate green infrastructure strategies improve air and water quality, can reduce stress levels, and improve mental health. See: Streets Shape People.

Streets are Public Spaces
Design streets as quality public spaces, as well as pathways for movement. They play a big role in the public life of cities and communities, and should be designed as places for cultural expression, social interaction, celebration, and public demonstration.

Streets are Multimodal
Design for a range of mobility choices, prioritizing active and sustainable modes of transport. Safe, efficient, and comfortable experiences for pedestrians, cyclists, and transit riders support access to critical services and destinations and increase the capacity of the street. See: Multimodal Streets Serve More People.

Streets as Ecosystems
Integrate contextual green infrastructure measures to improve the biodiversity and quality of the urban ecosystem. All designs should be informed by natural habitats, climate, topography, water bodies, and other natural features. See: Streets for Environmental Sustainability, Green Infrastructure and Designing Streets for Place.

Great Streets Create Value
Design all streets to be an economic asset as well as a functional element. Well-designed streets create environments that entice people to stay and spend time, generating higher revenues for businesses and higher value for homeowners.1 See: The Economy of Streets.

Streets for Context
Design streets to enhance and support the current and planned contexts at multiple scales. A street can traverse diverse urban environments, from low-density neighborhoods to dense urban cores. As the context changes, land uses and densities place different pressures on the street, and inform the design priorities. See: Designing Streets for Place.

Streets Can Change
Design streets to reflect a new set of priorities that ensures appropriate distribution of space among different users. Push boundaries, try new things, and think in creative ways. Implement projects quickly using low-cost materials to help inform public decision making, allowing people to experience and test the street in different ways.


1. Richard Campbell and Margaret Wittgens, “The Business Case for Active Transportation: The Economic Benefits of Walking and Cycling,” (Gloucester, ON: Go For Green, 2004).

Adapted by Global Street Design Guide published by Island Press.