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Streets for Living: Planning and Best Practices in Street Design

Living streets are streets designed to be shared safely by pedestrians, bicycles and low speed motor vehicles. Case studies and tools for more liveable streets.

What Are Living Streets?

Living streets are streets designed to be shared safely by pedestrians, bicycles and low speed motor vehicles.

Similar to pedestrian plazas, living streets are char­acterized by a lack of curb separation between the sidewalk and the street right-of-way. They therefore reclaim street space for pedestrians, bicyclists, children, community and commercial activity, while enhancing ecological performance by increasing the proportion of permeable surfaces and vegetation. Living streets may also reduce infrastructure costs through the use of a single stormwater drainage system instead of two stormwater systems on either side of the road.

In contrast to pedestrian plazas, living streets have the advantage of allowing low-speed access by all modes of transportation, which therefore improves local access and vitality, enhances the versatility of the street space, and increases the supply of vehicle parking in the area. Vehicle speeds of around 10 mph are maintained through self-enforcing mea­sures such as narrow travel lanes, landscaping, tree planting, street furniture, cut-in parking spaces and other traffic calming features. The shared use of the street by children, pedestrians, bicycles, vehicles and residents is also indicated on signs that can be placed at each entrance to the living street.