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The street is the community’s living room, public space, our stage to live our lives as neighbors.
Jane Holtz Kay

Our Programs: Livability


Streets that are safe for pedestrians and help to create a vibrant downtown district,


or streets that fragment the city, simply move traffic, and destroy sense of place.

Streets Are Living Museums

  • William Whyte once said the street is a town’s "river of life" – the public meeting space. Rather than a fragmenting conduit for cars, the street can be a resource that shapes the community. Streets should unify, not divide.

  • Start with amenities: Is there a diverse selection of shops (not just fern bars for tourists)? Are there evening as well as daytime activities, so there’s always activity on the street? Do people live and work downtown (in live/work lofts, for example)? Is there a selection of "third places," where residents meet in informal ways? Diversity, not single-use zoning, is key.

  • Wide streets, especially one-way thoroughfares, are not as safe, and they don’t attract the pedestrian traffic that brings downtown alive. More small streets with short blocks are better than a few wide roads (and more convenient than suburbia’s curvilinear street patterns). It’s not necessary or even desirable to create pedestrian malls, but narrow and shorten the streets.

  • Create a street atmosphere that makes walkers feel safe and welcomed, such as grass medians and shade trees between sidewalks and streets, wide sidewalks with benches and lighting, roofs and awnings that shelter pedestrians, public art, helpful but tasteful signage, and on-street parking (which separates walkers from traffic).

  • There aren’t many things more dismal than a parking lot the size of a football field in front of a business. Move storefronts to the sidewalk and put parking behind buildings. Studies show this encourages business, and it sure helps maintain a community’s historic fabric.