Global Street Design Guide

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Table of Contents

Global Street Design Guide

The Process of Shaping Streets

While specific processes vary by place, coordination and collaboration during each stage is fundamental, and effective communication and engagement throughout the process is critical.

Analyze the Site

Start by analyzing and documenting the physical, social, and environmental context of the project site. Consider multiple scales of the street to identify how it functions as a part of its immediate surroundings and within larger network connections. Document existing infrastructure that will affect the street design. Observe who uses the street and at what time, and note the various activities. Analyze who lives and works in the area, while observing local customs, cultures, and political influences. Check legal and guiding documents in the city and region for specific goals or agendas that relate to the project site. Once the existing conditions are thoroughly observed and documented, identify and prioritize primary challenges and needs to discuss with the project stakeholders. See: Measuring and Evaluating Streets and Designing Streets for Place.

Engage All Stakeholders

Identify and invite all stakeholders to engage in the process of shaping their streets to ensure long-term success and stewardship. Constituents are more likely to be supportive of a project if they have been a part of the process of identifying the constraints and opportunities that inform the design. Work with transportation, planning, development, public health, and environmental groups to identify how street projects align with shared goals and priorities. Align project proposals with existing and upcoming utilities and service projects in the area and take this opportunity to propose the introduction of progressive technology or retrofitting of vital utilities. Nobody knows a local street better than the people who use it every day, so welcome input from local constituents to make a project more applicable to a specific context. Discuss and clarify local priorities for public health and safety, quality of life, environmental sustainability, and local economy. Make decisions together and keep all parties involved throughout the process. See: Communication and Engagement.

Develop a Project Vision

With a thorough understanding of the existing site conditions,various stakeholder interests, and project constraints, develop a vision for the street’s look, feel, and function in the future. Identify best-practice street design strategies and innovative examples that are most applicable to the local context. Use visual renderings, drawings, and metrics to show and explain what is possible, and test ideas with local stakeholders. Ensure the project vision aligns with citywide goals and community priorities for public health and safety, quality of life, and environmental and economic sustainability. Where possible, develop a few options that balance the project constraints and stakeholder interests through different designs, including communities, in the decision-making process. See: Setting a Project Vision.

Planning and Design

Guide the transformation of a project vision into reality through planning and design. Ensure the proposed project is intrinsically linked to larger mobility frameworks and comprehensive planning strategies that shape sustainable transportation, land use, and density. Coordinate with relevant stakeholders to clarify budgets, timelines, and project scope. Ensure budgets not only cover the construction costs, but also account for funds to cover ongoing maintenance and management of the project. Design facilities and elements to align with functional priorities and local placemaking goals. Identify quick and easy wins, consider testing designs on site through interim solutions, and offer professional design reviews for further refinement. Ensure that local conditions, climate, ongoing maintenance, and implementation processes inform decisions about materials, design, long-term durability, and user behavior.

Build the Project

Implement great streets projects by ensuring each part of the process is well-coordinated and that selected materials and resources are available. Secure adequate finances and construct interim phases and trial projects when initial budgets are limited. Use construction drawings, training sessions, and other tools to clearly communicate each step of the process to contractors. Ensure that appropriate skilled labor, equipment, and services are arranged to support quality construction. The
long-term durability of the street will be determined at this stage of the process. Consider adopting suitable local skills and materials for economic, environmental, and social benefits. See: Costs and Budgets.

Maintain and Manage the Project

Increase the usable lifespan of streets by ensuring ongoing maintenance and management. It is always more cost-effective to use quality materials and proactively maintain a street rather than let chronic issues develop to the point of major disrepair. Work with local businesses and constituents to provide regular maintenance and to program pedestrian-priority spaces where appropriate. See: Management and Maintenance.

Evaluate the Impacts

Measure and communicate the impacts of a completed street transformation. Use metrics to convey information to decision makers and community members. Collect metrics before and after implementation to inform future design approaches and assist in building political and community support for other projects. Encourage stakeholders to agree on the right metrics to be collected early in the process, and use the results to benchmark the project against prior conditions, other local streets projects, citywide data, or national and international projects. See: Measuring and Evaluating streets.

Update Policy

Use the outcome of the evaluation to update local policies and guidelines. Develop new policies to support sustainable streets if they do not already exist. Ensure local codes and practices are revisited every few years to test their relevance rather than base policies on outdated best practices. Identify impediments and challenges to implementing contemporary approaches. Base policies on the most recent documents, relevant precedents, and research available. Base policy on the desired future conditions—not on projections of past trends. See: Institutionalizing Change.

Adapted by Global Street Design Guide published by Island Press.

Aligning with City and Regional Agendas

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Aligning with City and Regional Agendas