Global Street Design Guide

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Global Street Design Guide

Mode Share

Walking and cycling are often the most used modes of transportation. These accessible and affordable means can be a burden over long distances and hazardous if there is no infrastructure to support them. Car ownership is steadily increasing but is still very low, and motorized two-wheelers or small collective transport tend to dominate.


Residents may walk long distances to work or school. Access to water and other services are provided along roads that prioritize motorized transport and lack sidewalks or cycle lanes. The perceptions of safety are poor, and the risk of being hit by moving vehicles is high.

Public Utilities

Basic utilities such as water, power, waste, and sanitation may not be present in informal streets. Informal systems may be developed at a high cost to residents, and are often inadequately managed.

Emergency Vehicular Access

Narrow street networks make access for emergency vehicles very difficult. Identify core corridors that might be widened and paved, in order to improve access for emergency vehicles. Acceptable dimensions between emergency vehicle access points should be determined at the network level. Local authorities may use special emergency vehicles such as mini vans or motorized two-and three-wheelers to disseminate services in narrower streets and neighborhoods.

Collective Transport Access

As many informal areas are settled on the outskirts of cities, reliable transport options to access jobs and services can be extremely limited. Collective transport is often informally organized, privately managed, and operated with small minivans, taxis, and motorcycles. This results in many residents spending a very high proportion of their income on commuting. Topography can be a major barrier in some cases.1

Quality of the Built Environment

Streets may be relatively narrow and often unpaved, turning into corridors of mud after heavy rains, which makes walking and cycling challenging and hazardous. Even in well-connected street networks, poor-quality surfaces render streets inaccessible for people with disabilities.


1 UN Habitat, Streets as Public Spaces and Drivers of Urban Prosperity (Nairobi: UN Habitat, 2012).

Adapted by Global Street Design Guide published by Island Press.


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