Global Street Design Guide

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Global Street Design Guide

The Commission for Global Road Safety recommends that 10% of total project costs be allocated to safety, inclusive of Non-motorized Transportation (NMT) infrastructure.1

The costs of building great streets are vastly different in different countries and depend upon a number of variables. The scale of a street is a primary determinant of overall costs, as wide streets that run for longer distances cost more than narrow profiles. It is also critical for long-term planning to consider the overall balance of up-front capital costs with lifecycle costs, including operation, maintenance, repair, and replacement. Investing in quality design and materials early in a project will save costs over its lifecycle.

Consider local budget timelines, multiple sources of funding, and aligning projects with new sustainable streets initiatives where possible.

Cost Variables

Ensure the following variables are considered at the outset of each streets project:

Material costs will vary based on local availability, location, and transportation. Modular units installed on site can be more cost effective.

Labor affordability and availability differ greatly across various countries and regions.

Signals and enforcement cameras are prohibitively expensive in some places, and ongoing repair or maintenance costs can see them installed but not used. Reliable sources of energy are not available in all places, and so renewable energy back-up systems are needed, and these may add to the cost.

Design and construction duration can impact the overall cost, influencing labor costs, equipment rental, or lost income for adjacent businesses. Large capital projects are also affected by inflation rates.

Certain climates require specific construction materials that can endure extreme heat or cold, impacting overall costs. Places with extreme climates may also need to account for additional maintenance costs in their recurring budgets.

Build maintenance into the City budget and establish partnerships with local organizations, business groups, and adjacent property owners to participate in maintenance efforts. Build local pride and stewardship in the community.

Topography and Geology
Natural site conditions can impact construction processes and required materials. Particularly soft soils might be prone to erosion or require additional construction steps, while harder bedrocks might impact construction duration.

Hidden Costs
Site complexity and incomplete site analysis can result in unanticipated costs, such as finding an unexpected utility line or moving a drain which was not accurately noted in original drawings. Ensure contingency costs are included in total budgets to cover such circumstances.

Types or Scales of Projects To Be Funded

Sustainable streets can be identified and achieved at multiple scales. Consider the following project types for funding opportunities:

Large-Scale Projects

  • Major area or neighborhood redevelopment
  • Full corridor reconstruction
  • Introduction of a light rail or BRT corridor
  • Single block reconstruction

Smaller-Scale Projects

  • New sidewalks for a corridor
  • Protected bike lane
  • Parklet
  • Neighborhood street tree program
  • Street activity program and temporary closure


Funding Sources

Available funding sources vary by context, and may include the following:

Government Budgets and Funding
• Local Governments
Capital budgets
Operational budgets
Participatory budgeting
• Regional and National Governments
Grants and capital funding
• Supranational and International
Economic communities
Development banks
Unions grants

Private Sector Partners

  • Project Financing. Plan for long-term financing of infrastructure and industrial projects based upon the projected cash flow required for the project rather than the capacity of its sponsors.
  • Institutions and Organizations. Consider working with local hospitals, academic institutions, or other philanthropic organizations that could benefit from the nearby transformation.
  • Developers. Large projects should incorporate best-practice street design strategies from the outset. Local authorities can provide construction incentives to developers in return for street improvement and maintenance responsibilities.

International Development Banks
Sustainable streets and multimodal mobility should be considered in any grant or loan proposal for international development bank funding.

Project-Generated Cashflows
Funds sourced as a direct result of transit operations.

Crowd Sourcing and Donations
More conducive to temporary or small-scale, community-led street transformation projects, crowd funding and crowd sourcing solicit small contributions from a large number of individuals to achieve a bigger impact. Financial donations or the provision of labor or services are usually conducted using an online platform. This form of fundraising can complement larger donations or grants.

Social Impact Bonds (SIBs)
SIBs allow investors to cover upfront project costs. Investing in infrastructure that supports physical and social health can reduce long-term public expenditure. The public sector pays the return to the investor based on the delivery of successful results.


1. Kim, Patricia and Elisa Dumitrescu, Share the Road: Investment in Walking and Cycling Road Infrastructure (Nairobi: UNEP Transport, November 2010).

Adapted by Global Street Design Guide published by Island Press.

Phasing and Interim Strategies

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Phasing and Interim Strategies