3 Interesting Design Strategies of Streets in Architecture

For any built environment, circulation is a vital aspect of design. Designing the pathways, and having different levels of circulation to separate the pedestrian and vehicular traffic, is important for a holistic design. 

In the days of horse-drawn carriages and vintage cars, streets were designed with cobblestones and were meant more for pedestrians. As trams and buses entered the streets, the streets were widened and a separate pedestrian footpath was designed at the edges. 

The modern traffic levels and the multiple usages of streets have resulted in various levels of circulation such as highways, and city-level streets, all the way down to a simple pedestrian footpath. 


Hierarchy of Roads in Urban Planning

  • Arterial Roads
    • These are the roads at the top of the hierarchy 
    • They carry the maximum volume of traffic 
    • They are characterized by the visible segregation of the different directions of traffic movement
    • The roads are usually 50-80m and allow speeds of 50-60 km/h and below
  • Sub-Arterial Roads
    • These roads function similarly to arterial roads, but in areas where access is constrained
    • The roads are usually 30-50m and allow speeds of 50 km/h and below
  • Distributor/Collector Roads 
    • They connect the arterial and sub-arterial roads with the access roads
    • There is moderate traffic compared with arterial roads
    • The roads are usually 12-30m and allow speeds of 30km/h and below
  • Access Roads
    • They have the lowest traffic capacity
    • They are present in localities and used to divide a locality into its layouts
    • The roads are usually 15-30m and allow speeds of 15-30km/h and below
    • They are characterized by their ability to provide access to an individual building

Design of Streets

  1. Street Elements
    • Footpaths
      • The width and height of footpaths should conform to the universal accessibility standards
      • The materials used for footpaths should be tough and anti-skid
      • There should be drainage provided for rainwater to be cleared off the surface 
      • There should be no obstructions such as signage, vehicular traffic, furniture, and vegetation.
      • If the pathway is along the entrance to a property or at junctions, an appropriate slope should be provided for smooth transitions onto the road and back onto the pavement.
Footpath with Paver Blocks
Footpath with Paver Blocks
  • Bus Lanes
    • A separate bus lane should be provided on roads
    • This lane should be closest to the pavement, and bus stops
    • The lane can be separated by providing visual segregation or a height difference.
  • Parking
    • The on-street parking should be done in a way that does not interfere with pedestrian movement
    • Curbsides and intersections should be devoid of parking 
    • Parking should not be provided near bus stops
    • A designated space that is indented away from the traffic
Parking on an Access Road
Parking on an Access Road
  1. Safety Elements
    • Pedestrian crossings 
      • Signaled pedestrian crossings should be provided at junctions
      • The pathway should be defined by zebra crossings
      • The space between the “STOP” line and crossing should be 2m
      • Tactile paving should be incorporated for the visually impaired
  • Median and Dividers
    • Medians must be placed in the middle of the road to divert the two directions of traffic
    • The median must be visible to the driver from their seating position
    • The dividers must be temporarily fixed, and removable in case of maintenance or emergencies
  • Street Furniture and Lighting
    • Seating, trashbin, railings, and signages fall under street furniture
    • The seating and railings should follow anthropometric standards
    • Seating should be provided under shaded areas
    • Traffic signs and other signages must be prominent, and visible to both pedestrians and vehicular traffic
    • Street lighting should be diffused and placed at a great height to ensure maximum reach and visibility, without compromising visual comfort
Seating with Foliage
Seating with Foliage
  1. Multi-Utility Elements
    • Plantation
      • Plantations on streets are used for the design, functional and aesthetic aspects
      • They are used for providing shade to the pedestrians
      • They improve air quality 
      • They reduce ambient heat and surface drain-off
      • The greenery makes a street look aesthetic
Trees Along a Street
Trees Along a Street
  • Storm Water Management
    • Stormwater is collected by an inlet at the edge of the carriageway (path meant for vehicular traffic)
    • The water is then transported through pipes to catchment areas
    • The natural drainage of water should be enabled by the street design
    • The footpath should have a gradient slope towards the shoulder of the street
    • Paver blocks and bioswales can help in providing drainage through pores that connect to the soil or pipes
Stormwater Drainage Inlets
Stormwater Drainage Inlets
  • Public Toilets
    • Public toilets are an essential aspect of street design 
    • The toilets should be designed such that the foul smell is redirected away from the street 
    • The transition and access from the street and toilet should be easy and efficient
Public Toilets on Streets 
Public Toilets on Streets 

These simple points and tips, when implemented efficiently, can drastically improve a built environment. It is key that the design is universally accessible, the circulation aids in decongestion, and there is aesthetic value.

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