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Context is a crucial, yet often overlooked, factor in designing streets. Densities, land uses, and travel characteristics can shift as the street traverses the city from one neighborhood to another. Street design should respond to and affect the desired character of the public realm. As the needs and uses along a street change, street designs should respond and adjust accordingly.
Below, a single street is illustrated at three points along its length, depicting three different potential designs that respond to the adjacent contexts.
Context 1: Neighborhood Main Street
Context 2: Central Two-Way Street
Context 3: Transit Street
Understanding the existing conditions of a street is important in guiding responsible street design. It is equally important, however, to identify the functions and uses desirable for the future. Current street types can, and often should, transform from one type to another in order to support long-term
citywide policy goals. Three possible alternatives for a given street with a specific context are illustrated below. Each example reflects a different set of priorities and desired outcomes identified during the planning and design process.
Option 1: Two-Way Street with Bidirectional Cycle Track
Option 2: Transit-Oriented Street
Option 3: Shared Street
Adapted by Global Street Design Guide published by Island Press.