News November 20, 2019

Happy 5th Birthday to GDCI!

“In five years we’ve reached six continents with new street standards that are now transforming hundreds of cities,” said Janette Sadik-Khan, NACTO-GDCI chair. “Our growing, global network of passionate professionals share a common language of people-first design, and in the next five years they will be the ones to reveal new possibilities in our streets.”

The Global Designing Cities Initiative (GDCI), a program of NACTO, was founded because people-focused street design is essential for safe, healthy, and vibrant cities. We are now celebrating our 5th birthday! 

Founded by Janette Sadik-Khan, and under the guidance of our Director, Skye Duncan, GDCI’s team has grown to 15 employees, launched the Global Street Design Guide, (GSDG) started the Streets for Kids program, reached over 17,000 engineers, designers, and planners, reached an audience in 25 countries, and advised on policies, programs, and projects in six cities around the globe. Over the past five years, we presented the GSDG’s people-focused street designs in 35 cities around the world — and in the process, received over 100 endorsements for the GSDG from cities, regions, and countries, who are committed to street designs that put place and people first.

In celebration of GDCI’s 5th birthday, we have a special gift for you: 25% discount on your purchase of the Global Street Design Guide – good through mid-December. Use code GDCI.

GDCI staff holding copies of the GSDG with a 100 endorsement breaking news sign in the background
(GDCI Staff celebrating our 100th endorsement of the Global Street Design Guide)

Key Highlights of the Past Five Years:

Global Street Design Guide:

Published in 2017, the Global Street Design Guide was our first major accomplishment and it has already made significant influences in cities across the world.  Since publication, the Global Street Design Guide has been endorsed over 100 times, downloaded almost 19,000 times, and has had translations completed or in progress in six languages [Portuguese, Mandarin, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, and Russian] expanding our reach and inclusion for people-focused street designs.

“Having cities endorse the Global Street Design Guide not only sends a clear message from city-leaders about a commitment to a ‘people’ and ‘place’ approach to urban street design but provides a permission slip for millions of practitioners around the world to challenge the status-quo and to rethink, reimagine, and redesign their most critical network of public space – their streets. We are thrilled that the Global Street Design Guide has inspired cities to update their own codes and guidelines and provided the tools and strategies for implementing these changes on the ground.” – says Skye Duncan, Director NACTO Global Designing Cities Initiative

Bloomberg Initiative for Global Road Safety:

In 2016, GDCI began work in five global cities under the Bloomberg Initiative for Global Road Safety (BIGRS): Bogota, Columbia, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Fortaleza, Brazil, and Mumbai, India.  Working alongside multiple international partners, we have been fighting for safer streets and safer mobility options as part of a comprehensive approach to saving lives and preventing serious injuries on streets around the world. We have done this by working with local partners to update their policies and local design guidance, building capacity through trainings and workshops in the community, and implementing projects with metrics collection to demonstrate the impact.

Through the BIGRS program, our team has implemented 64 implementations [interim or permanent modification on the design of public spaces], trained over 2,000 people, held 11 webinars, and facilitated 63 workshops or community meetings.

“We are testing and proving that street design can and should put people first, instead of motorized vehicles. Fortaleza is proud to revisit the way streets are being conceived and NACTO-GDCI, along with the BIGRS, are tremendous partners in this process. The ‘Cidade da Gente’ showed us what is possible in terms of reinventing the biggest network of public space we have: our streets!” says Roberto Claudio, Mayor of Fortaleza

“The support we have had through Bloomberg Philanthropies, including GDCI, has been valuable.  It was a boost to our institutions in Bogota with a permanent exchange of ideas, training, and implementations on the streets.  Having specialist come to our office was a catalyst to building capacity and making strategic changes to the priorities of our city.”  says Juan Pablo Bocarejo, Transportation Commissioner Bogotá

“We believe that good cities are ones where people are out in the street and good for the most vulnerable citizens.  If a city is good for the elderly and children, it is good for everyone else. In Bogotá, we want to see children by themselves in the streets and people protected on bicycles, we already have nearly 1 million bicycle trips a day.” –  says Enrique Peñalosa, Mayor of Bogotá

Additionally, our team works closely with Bloomberg Associates providing technical assistance in redesigning underutilized street space to provide quality public open space around schools and neighborhood centers in the city of Milan. The work embraces the 2030 Vision Plan for the city and prioritizes spaces located in neighborhoods outside the city center as part of a larger plan by the municipality to improve neighborhoods in peripheral areas of the city. Under the ‘Piazze Aperte’ program, the city has completed six Piazze using interim strategies to transform (spaces once dominated by cars) into places for people.d

An image of a parking lot turned into a public space in Milan

Streets for Kids:

In 2018, GDCI started our second-largest program, Streets for Kids.  Our team is excitedly developing Designing Streets for Kids, a GSDG supplement that focuses specifically on the interactions that children and their caregivers have with their streets. This guide will be published in early 2020, and the team is set to train or provide technical assistance to 12 cities around the world.

Additionally, we will continue to work closely with the Bernard van Leer Foundation’s Urban95 program, by providing technical assistance to Urban95 cities for the next three years.

“NACTO’s Global Designing Cities Initiative is rapidly changing what streets mean in dozens of cities around the globe. From producing the world’s most comprehensive people-focused street design guide, now available in two of the world’s most-spoken languages, to developing deep collaborations with changemakers in six focus cities, GDCI shows that streets everywhere can be vibrant, safe places that sustain communities. Through paint and partnerships, GDCI is proof positive of the power in designing streets for people.” – says Corinne Kisner, Executive Director NACTO

There is no shortage of work to do in fulfillment of our mission to inspire a shift toward safe, sustainable, and healthy cities through transforming our streets.  To everyone who has contributed to our accomplishments, we cannot thank you enough. A special thank you to Bloomberg Philanthropies, FIA Foundation, Bernard van Leer Foundation, and Fondation Botnar for sharing in our vision on the future of streets – we look forward to continuing our work with you all in the years to come.

More Updates

PRESS RELEASE: International leaders shine spotlight on Wellington’s street changes

March 18, 2024

PRESS RELEASE: International leaders shine spotlight on Wellington’s street changes

Global giants Janette Sadik-Khan (Transport Principal, Bloomberg Associates and Chair of Global Designing Cities Initiative),  and Salvador Rueda (Director of Urban Ecology Agency of Barcelona) arrived in New Zealand’s capital to back the sustainable street changes that are putting people at the heart of Wellington’s streets.

Clean Air Project Launched in Accra

February 14, 2024

Clean Air Project Launched in Accra

With the support of the Clean Air Fund, GDCI will help reduce harmful PM2.5 air pollution, focusing on one of the most at risk groups, children.