A shared street, or “woonerf,” refers to a design concept in which moving and parked cars share the same space as moving and lingering pedestrians and bicyclists. It centers on the belief that the street is rightly a physical and social part of the land use realm to be used simultaneously for vehicles, people, bikes, scooters, and skateboards, as well as for the social and recreational activities of residents. The street’s design supports multiple uses, with emphasis on community activity and treating vehicles as “guests.”
Shared streets are easily implemented as retrofits in existing areas since many of the design features are additive and don’t require major demolition and reconstruction.
Higher priority design elements and traffic management features on shared streets supporting community activity.
- Design pedestrian areas and vehicular areas at the same level and avoid the use of traditional curbs.
- Use ADA-compliant decorative paving to guide visually impaired persons through the space and resist the tendency to strictly differentiate between the pedestrian and vehicle space.
- Use varied paving materials to define entry points, driving areas, parking areas, and pedestrian and play areas.
- Provide residents with vehicle access to the fronts of their units or business.
- Use swales, permeable surfaces, and other treatments to manage drainage to avoid the use of continuous curbs.
- Provide streetscape amenities such as lighting, benches, and trash receptacles, and bike racks.
- Provide urban design features such as public art and gateway features.
- Provide gathering spaces for community activities with a mixture of fixed and flexible site furnishings.
- Provide planting, including shade trees at a minimum and low planting where feasible. Use planting areas to define spaces and provide clarity to pedestrians and vehicles.
- Consider alternative paving materials for wayfinding and aesthetics.
- Ensure intermittent access for large vehicles, such as fire trucks, garbage trucks, ambulances and moving trucks.
Lower priority design elements and traffic management features on shared streets provide additional support for coexistence of vehicles and pedestrians where pedestrians have priority.
- Use pinchpoints to delineate the driving lane. Well-designed raised planters as pinchpoints can also double as sitting areas.
- Provide parking spaces at various angles and locations. These spaces can help define the travel path of cars. Providing generous landscaping around parking spaces also helps define these areas.