Global Street Design Guide

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Table of Contents

Global Street Design Guide

Many cities have developed permitting systems and siting guidelines to ensure that streets can accommodate safe, convenient, and appropriate locations for commercial activities

that maintain pedestrian clear paths, without pushing pedestrians into the roadbed. Work with businesses and vendors to develop guidance and policies suitable to local contexts.

Street networks, context, size, and character should be analyzed to identify and map areas appropriate to accommodate commercial activity. Commercial activity should be allowed only in sidewalks that are at least 4 m wide and should not obstruct the clear path at any time. General locations for commercial activities within the street include:

  • Adjacent to building edges as extensions of ground floor uses.
  • In sidewalk furniture zones.
  • In sidewalk extensions or parking spaces.

Clearance Distances
When located in the furniture zone of a sidewalk, vendors and stalls should be placed at least:

  • 0.5 m from curb edges
  • 2 m from street furniture such as benches and fire hydrants.
  • 1.5 m from trees and planters.
  • 2.5 m from transit stops, boarding zones, and loading zones.
  • 3 m from pedestrian crossings
  • 6 m from building entrances.

Use markers embedded in the paving, paint or chalk lines, bollards, or a change in material to visually indicate areas allowable for commercial activity.

Communication of Siting Guidance
Ensure local guidance and regulations for commercial activities on the street are visually communicated, easily available in printed and online formats, and are provided in multiple languages for the widest reach possible.


Singapore boasts over 100 dedicated street food or hawker food markets, which are open-air food courts with organized vendors and adjoining seating facilities. Albert Mall and Waterloo Street are examples of streets that have been pedestrianized to accommodate high volumes of pedestrians and street vendors.

It took almost six years to complete and formalize these projects, which started in 1992. Since the completion, they have become precedents for other areas in the city. Located close to temples and other attractions, the organized vendors sell various cultural goods and foods. The vendors are organized by the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Singapore, as part of the National Art Council’s Busking Program.

Street vendors in Singapore


The Bangkok Metropolitan Area identified over 40,000 official street vendors as of 2010, with about 50% authorized to vend in designated spaces. The City of Bangkok has become more lenient, accommodating, and sometimes supportive of vending in certain locations, recognizing its importance to the culture and economy of the city and the livelihood of millions of people. Policies concerning street vending in Bangkok have set standards with regard to the environment, hygiene, and poverty reduction. Bangkok’s Policy Regarding Street Vending: 1973–2013 laid out regulations that allowed vendors to sell at spaces arranged by the Bangkok Metropolitan Authority daily without having to pay any fees, save for a small amount for cleaning of the footpath on which they put their stalls. These policies help acknowledge these once informal markets, enforce cleanliness and hygiene, and support local commerce.

Bangkok, Thailand



The Street Vendor Guide was developed in 2009 by the Center of Urban Pedagogy, together with artist Candy Chang. The guide is a brief document designed to help the city’s 10,000 street vendors become aware of their rights and responsibilities. It is a graphic representation of the do’s and don’ts for street vending and is available in over ten languages, including English, Bengali, Chinese, Spanish, and Arabic. It also includes a history of street vending, personal stories by vendors, and related policy reforms. It has become a powerful tool equipping vendors to do business better and deal with uninformed authorities or enforcement agencies.

Street vendors in New York City reading the Street Vendor Guide

Adapted by Global Street Design Guide published by Island Press.