Zaki Mustafa and Michelle Birdsall have a very informative, well written article in the latest ITE Journal about The Great Streets Movement (have I mentioned how great it is that ITE is having professional writers doing some of the writing?).
The City of Los Angeles has taken this concept to heart and launched a program for developing great streets called People St (I highly recommend you check out their website if you work for a city). LA is implementing three strategies with their program:
- Plazas: Convert a portion of a street into a public space with tables, chairs, planters and bike parking.
- Parklet: Replace an on-street parking stall with a people oriented place.
- Bike Corral: Put bike racks in an on-street parking stall.
The City of Minneapolis runs a great streets/neighborhood development program that’s a little different than Los Angeles. You can check it out here.
No matter how you implement a Great Streets program, I like APA’s 12 Characteristics of a Great Street as a starting point:
- Provides orientation to its users, and connects well to the larger pattern of ways.
- Balances the competing needs of the street — driving, transit, walking, cycling, servicing, parking, drop-offs, etc.
- Fits the topography and capitalizes on natural features.
- Is lined with a variety of interesting activities and uses that create a varied streetscape.
- Has urban design or architectural features that are exemplary in design.
- Relates well to its bordering uses — allows for continuous activity, doesn’t displace pedestrians to provide access to bordering uses.
- Encourages human contact and social activities.
- Employs hardscape and/or landscape to great effect.
- Promotes safety of pedestrians and vehicles and promotes use over the 24-hour day.
- Promotes sustainability through minimizing runoff, reusing water, ensuring groundwater quality, minimizing heat islands, and responding to climatic demands.
- Is well maintained, and capable of being maintained without excessive costs.
- Has a memorable character.
Photo Source: Streets.mn