Global Street Design Guide

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Global Street Design Guide

Motorists use automobiles and motorbikes to move around the city. These vehicles can be used as for-hire vehicles (taxis), shared vehicles (car share and car pool), or personal vehicles. While these uses have different curbside needs, they have similar geometric needs and are addressed together in this section.

Traditionally, personal motorized vehicles, and particularly automobiles, are a major consumer of street space. Vehicles occupy space when moving in travel lanes and in on-street parking spots. When street space is unpriced or unrestricted, congestion emerges, increasing travel times and pollution, reducing space for other uses, and negatively impacting livability.

Travel lanes for motorists are often mixed facilities shared by cars, buses, and cycles. They are frequently complemented with curbside parking spaces, curb zone facilities such as parking meters, intersection elements such as stop lines and traffic signals, and wayfinding and speed signs across the corridor for navigation and compliance.

Personal motor vehicles are often restricted on various corridors such as pedestrian zones, transit streets, and at times on shared streets.

When street space is unpriced or unrestricted, congestion emerges, increasing travel times and pollution, and decreasing livability.



The speed of moving vehicles is directly related to the safety of the street and other users. While cars on highways are capable of higher speeds with relatively lower risk, these capabilities become a liability to occupants and people outside the vehicle in urban settings.

Urban streets should be designed to support a maximum of 40 km/h. In the densest urban areas and when sharing a lane with cycles, speeds should be at or below 30 km/h. When shared with pedestrians, it may be necessary to limit speeds to 15 km/h or less. The grey area on the bar below represents speeds in non-urban areas. See: Design Speed.


Vehicle size and fleet characteristics vary around the world, largely in response to street design, parking, regulatory characteristics, and wealth. In many cities, vehicles must frequently navigate narrow or historic street networks or have limited parking availability, encouraging smaller average fleet sizes and the use of motorized two-wheelers. Large cars and light trucks used as personal vehicles are common where urban streets, especially lane widths, are relatively large. Ensure vehicles of all types meet global safety standards to support the safety of vehicle occupants as well as other street users.

Motorized Two and Three Wheelers

Scales can vary, but dimensions are generally between 1.5–2.3 m in length and 0.5–1 m in width. Motor scooters and mopeds are smaller and less powerful than motorcycles and have low top speeds. These are often used as an alternative to cars for reasons of cost and convenience, especially where collective transport is limited.


Personal automobiles come in many sizes, depending on type and context. Electric cars have potentially sustainable power sources and are sometimes used in car-share programs that allow access to motor vehicles at lower personal and social impact. Accessible vehicles are specially designed for use by people with disabilities and are especially important where collective transit is not available. Taxis are automobiles used as a for-hire service.

City Cars and Microcars

City cars and microcars are a form of limited-use vehicle, usually 2-seaters with some freight capabilities. These vehicles are often used in car-share systems and have lower parking impacts than full-size cars. They have lower emissions and less skill requirements than motorcycles.

Adapted by Global Street Design Guide published by Island Press.

Motorist Networks

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Motorist Networks