Improving street design and layout
Well-designed streets encourage walking and cycling.
The street is vital in structuring the fabric of the whole city.
CABE has published research on how good street design contributes both economic benefits and public value. The creation of easy and clear routes can aid movement for people walking, cycling or using private and public transport. Such routes contribute to the creation of the wider public space and green infrastructure network.
National guidance, such as the Manual for Streets, recognises the importance of street design in encouraging sustainable transport modes. Other documents cover a wider range of contexts – such as ‘Link and Place’, Mixed Priority Routes and the Manual for Historic Streets.
This way to better residential streets is a CABE briefing that investigates residential street design using examples from England and Scotland. Benchmarks of good practice should emphasise the need to plan and design for changing modes and patterns of travel.
For international inspiration, 'Our cities ourselves' shows visions for sustainable transport and streetscapes in ten of the world's most fascinating cities, from ten of the world's leading architects.
The quality of the local streetscape has an immediate impact on people’s desire to walk and cycle at both a city and neighbourhood scale. Design options include:
- providing safe, secure, active and quality walking and cycling environments
- improving the allocation of space for particular modes, improving integration between modes
- developing shared spaces
- introducing speedy maintenance to promote a quality public realm
- addressing elements of road design such as one-way systems and roundabouts that discourage walking and cycling
- reducing ‘dead space’ such as surface car parking.
In new sustainable neighbourhoods, streets and the public realm should form a framework for development. High-quality street design has real potential to reduce the need for travel by providing attractive frontage for a vital mix of uses all at hand within easy walking or cycling distance. Permeable and attractive environments encourage people to choose walking and cycling over short car trips, thereby contributing to low energy lifestyle choices.
Poundbury offers a good practice example of how internal street layout can support permeability and attractive environments for walking and cycling at a neighbourhood scale. However, it is also important to consider how sites and neighbourhoods connect to the surrounding areas and social infrastructure such as schools, healthcare facilities, shops as well as employment.
This way to better streets
CABE has led a series of events on street design and has recently reviewed streetscape design practice in 10 good examples of streets and spaces in the UK at a site scale:
Bideford Quay, Devon (waterfront street in a seaside town)
Temple Meads Station forecourt, Bristol (a transport interchange approach and forecourt)
Devizes Market Square, Wiltshire (an historic market town centre with bus interchange)
O’Connell Street, Dublin (a major urban boulevard of national significance)
Newhall Phase 1, Harlow, Essex (a new community and network of residential streets)
Kensington High Street, West London (a busy urban high street and arterial route)
Hope Street, Liverpool (an iconic street of cultural significance)
Ancoats and New Islington, Manchester (a network of streets as part of the regeneration of an urban village)
Blackett Street and Quayside, Newcastle (a network of historic streets to serve a busy bus network)
Maid Marian Way, Nottingham (slower design speeds around on a repaired inner-city ring road with at-grade crossings).
More examples of good street design practice, are:
- New Road, Brighton (one of the few shared-surface multi-modal non-residential streets to be adopted in the UK);
- Melbourne waterfront (public-private venture transforming the historic waterfront);
Signing and waymarking is also particularly important to people's use and enjoyment of the street environment. Good examples include the Legible Bristol and Legible London initiatives which seek to enhance people's understanding and experience of the city through the implementation of identity, information and transport projects integrated with public art.
Streetscape improvements can be considered in tandem with new development. Community-led initiatives such as the Sustrans DIY Streets pilot project or Living Streets Community Street Audit illustrate techniques and the level of change that can be achieved. These may involve low-cost changes to existing residential streets that help reduce traffic speed and dominance and encourage walking and cycling.
CABE and Urban Practitioners
with the cities of Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield