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Streetscape Standards & Design Guidelines

Best Practice Category:

Street and Network Connectivity Transit Prioritization, Accessibility, and Area Design Parking Management Transportation Demand Management Pedestrian and Bicycle Circulation

Description

Streetscape Standards and Design Guidelines provide strategies to direct the overall character and configuration of public rights-of-way. Getting the right proportion, character, and quality of the public realm is crucial for the blocks immediately surrounding station areas, in order to support walking and biking. These strategies focus on improving the aesthetic qualities of a street, enhancing multi-modal accessibility, and creating an enjoyable, vibrant public realm.

Broadway Streetscape Master Plan
credit: Broadway Streetscape Master Plan

Streetscape Standards and Design Guidelines for different areas generally share key core elements and goals but will vary based on place types, street types and dimensions, adjacent land uses, and the desired visual and spatial character of the public realm.

Standards and Guidelines typically focus on the following general categories, as listed below:

  • Street Configuration: Many Streetscape Standards and Guidelines include descriptions and diagrams related to roadway and lane width, block length, curbside parking, transit stops, sidewalk widths and zones, curb extensions, and bicycle facilities. Traffic calming strategies may be necessary around transit facilities to ensure pedestrian safety. Physical interventions in areas of high multi-modal activity may include bulb-outs, neck-downs, or speed bumps. Additional standards and guidelines may be included to ensure sufficient pedestrian crossings, paseos, cut-throughs, and other non-vehicular connections to enhance accessibility.
  • Pedestrian and Bicycle Amenities and Placemaking: This category addresses comfort and safety for pedestrians and bicyclists, and often includes strategies relating to street furniture (e.g. seating, pedestrian lighting, waste receptacles), wayfinding, public art, outdoor dining, bike stations, and bike share.
  • Landscaping, Trees, and Sustainability: Landscape Standards and Guidelines regularize landscape elements occurring along the public right-of-way and adjacent to development. As opposed to building-scale regulation, streetscape-focused guidance typically covers the block or corridor scale. These standards/guidelines may also include a tree and understory plant palette, shade and spacing requirements, Low Impact Development (LID) standards, drought tolerant planting, street furniture, and pedestrian lighting.
  • Public Space: These standards provide guidance relating to the access, configuration, and design of public open spaces, such as parks, courtyards, paseos, and plazas.

Outcomes

  • Improves the aesthetics of the street environment
  • Encourages a pedestrian-oriented, vibrant pedestrian realm
  • Ensures a safe, comfortable, navigable, and accessible street environment for all users of the public right-of-way, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit users.
  • Adds to “life on the street”
  • Provides pedestrian and bicycle amenities
  • Defines pedestrian space
  • Encourages greener streets
  • Creates usable open spaces

Examples

Los Angeles Broadway Streetscape Master Plan.

Broadway Streetscape Master Plan; City of Los Angeles
Broadway Streetscape Master Plan; City of Los Angeles

The focus of the Master Plan is to create a multi-modal, pedestrian-focused street that will support a thriving, revitalized historic district. The Plan was developed with the proposed operation of restored historic streetcar service on Broadway and throughout Downtown Los Angeles in mind, but is not dependent upon streetcar service. This document enumerates the fundamental building blocks of streetscape improvements to the important transit corridor along Broadway. A sampling of components addressed include:

  • Street Configuration: The Broadway Streetscape Master Plan includes the reconfiguration of the vehicular right-of-way, to “prioritize the pedestrian and transit user over the private automobile, enhance transit accessibility, provide appropriate context for the restoration of historic streetcar service, and create a more hospitable street experience overall…” (Broadway Streetscape Master Plan pg. 4-1). Specifically, the Plan calls for:
    • Developing streetscape improvements and add amenities in the public realm on both the east and west sides of the street.
    • Providing dedicated parking/loading zones on the street to serve businesses and theatres with little or constrained alley access in this historic district.
    • Facilitating universally accessible pedestrian access to transit service on the curb edge of the street.
  • Transit Stops: The Plan also includes detailed information regarding multi-modal (bus and streetcar) transit stops that contain specially-designed and context-sensitive street furniture for users.
  • Curb Extensions and Midblock Crossings: The primary focus of the Plan is to improve safety and comfort for all modes of travel, and thus the Plan includes a series of curb extensions and mid-block crossings, which are meant to adequately serve a projected increase in pedestrian traffic.
  • Street Lighting: Special consideration is given to street lighting that pays homage to the historic architecture along the street. The Plan also includes maps of existing and proposed lighting intensity, suggesting a street lighting frequency of 60’ on center.

See more

San Francisco Better Streets

sfbetterstreets.org
sfbetterstreets.org

The San Francisco Better Streets website is a user-friendly online resource for private developers and residents to guide the design of the public right-of-way. It provides design guidance based on street types and adjacent land uses. These context-specific recommendations can be applied to a variety of transit districts and corridors.

A sampling of components addressed include:

  • Street Elements by Street Type: The website organizes street types based on neighboring land uses (e.g. downtown commercial vs. park edge). These street types are keyed to various elements (e.g. curb ramps, tree grates, special paving), and each street element is listed in a matrix as either appropriate or inappropriate for use on a particular street type.
  • Sidewalk Widths: For San Francisco, design guidelines relating to sidewalk widths are categorized by land use type such as commercial, residential, industrial, or “special” uses. Minimum sidewalk widths are recommended based on street type. In commercial throughway and neighborhood commercial streets for example, the minimum sidewalk width is 12’.
  • Sidewalk Zones: Sidewalk Zones are separated into 5 categories, including: Frontage Zone, Throughway Zone, Furnishing Zone, Edge Zone, and Extension Zone. Each zone includes strategies and guidelines that are dependent on existing features relating to the street.
  • Intersection Design: SF Better Streets also suggests elements that should be incorporated into intersections. Elements include visible crosswalks, parking restrictions at corners, crossing aids, tight curb radii, curb extensions, median refuges, roadway and pedestrian lighting, and streetscape elements such as planting and seating.

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Additional Examples

Other tools, toolkits, resources, or manuals that influence or relate to this tool

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