Commercial Street

Commercial streets serve corridors with large amounts of adjacent commercial land uses, but often include residential and office uses as well. To best serve these land uses, commercial streets should emphasize convenient vehicular traffic movement and access to adjacent land properties.
These corridors are also places of high community activity, therefore, commercial streets also need to accommodate safe, comfortable, convenient, and attractive travel for pedestrians, transit, and bicyclists. Design treatments should be utilized to improve the balance among the various travel modes.
Design Guidelines
Policy & Implementation
The Role of Local Government & Transit First Policies
Guiding Principles of Land Use
Flexible Zoning Strategies
Street Design Implementation
Revising Transportation Analysis Practices
Transportation Demand Management
Rethinking Vehicle Parking Requirements
Parking Management
Best Practices to Attract Successful Developers
Clarifying Design Expectations
Integrating Retail into Transit Oriented Development
Community Planning for Rail Transit
Additional Resources
An illustration of a street with cars and a bus with a crosswalk, separated bike lane, and a wide sidewalk with trees.
Commercial Street

Higher priority design elements and traffic management features on commercial streets need to balance convenient traffic movement with a high-quality pedestrian experience.

  • Provide safe, accessible sidewalks.

  • Provide high-amenity transit facilities.

  • Provide vegetation for shade, and aesthetics. Street trees and planting strips are encouraged as a buffer to pedestrians.

  • Provide streetscape amenities such as lighting, benches, trash receptacles and bike racks.

  • Right size the number and width of travel lanes for traffic speeds, volumes and vehicle sizes. Provide narrower travel lanes where feasible.

  • Accommodate large vehicles.

  • Manage access.

  • Provide medians with pedestrian refuges and planting.

  • Prioritize transit operations

The same graphic as above with callouts for streetscape amenities, right-sized travel lanes, transit facilities, and safe sidewalks.
Commercial Street
A photo of a street with high rise buildings and a street with crosswalks, wide sidewalks and trees.
Santa Clara Street, San José, CA (Source: Flickr - Will Buckner)
A photo of a colorful crosswalk with a sign that says "Senior Xing"
Harrison and 23rd Street. (Source: Flickr - Sergio Ruiz)

Lower-priority design elements and traffic management features on commercial streets support efficient and vehicular movement while still supporting a thriving pedestrian environment.

  • Provide bikeways such as bike lanes.

  • Provide on-street parking for convenient access to businesses and as a buffer to pedestrians.

  • Provide urban design features such as public art and gateway features.

  • Design streets and intersections supportive of multimodal transportation.
The same graphic as the first picture with call outs for bike lanes, multimodal intersections, public art, and on street parking.
Commercial Street
A photo of a separated 2-way bike lanes next to a downtown-like area.
Golden Square Mile, Montreal, Canada. (Source: Flickr -Travis Estell)
A photo of a two separated bike path next to a starbucks.
San Pablo Avenue, Albany, CA. (Source: Flickr - Sergio Ruiz)