Ideas for a great street

Published 19 June 2008

The New York-based Project for Public Spaces has compiled a list of 10 qualities that make for a great street (check the website for more detail, focusing on urban areas):


·         Attractions & destinations, having something to do gives people a reason to come to a place, and to return again & again. The organisation also mentioned the value of variety – for men & women, different ages, different times & seasons

·         Identity & image, creating a positive image requires keeping a place clean & well maintained

·         Active edge uses, buildings’ bases should be human-scaled and allow for interaction between indoors & out. A row of shops along a street is more interesting and generally safer to walk by than a blank wall or empty lot

·         Amenities, successful streets provide amenities to support a variety of activities. These include attractive waste receptacles to maintain cleanliness, street lighting to enhance safety, bicycle racks, and both private & public seating options – the importance of giving people the choice to sit where they want is generally underestimated. Cluster street amenities to support their use

·         Management, an active entity that manages the space is central to a street’s success, managing tenants and programming space

·         Seasonal strategies

·         Diverse user groups

·         Traffic, transit & the pedestrian, a successful street is easy to get to & get through; it’s visible both from a distance & up close. Accessible spaces have high parking turnover and, ideally, are convenient to public transit and support walking & biking. Access & linkages to surrounding destinations must be a part of the planning process. Traffic cannot dominate the space and preclude the comfort of other modes. This is generally accomplished by slowing speeds and sharing street space with a range of transport options

·         Blending of uses & modes, ground-floor uses & retail activities should spill out into the footpaths & streets to blur the distinction between public & private space. Shared street space also communicates that no one mode of transport dominates

·         Protects neighbourhoods, great streets support the context around them. There should be clear transitions from commercial streets to nearby residential neighbourhoods, communicating a change in surroundings with a concomitant change in street character.


Website: Project for Public Spaces, Great streets


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Attribution: Project for Public Spaces, story written by Bob Dey for this website.

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