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Living Streets

Streets are one of the most important elements in a city. Jane Jacobs says, “If a city’s streets look fun, then the city also looks fun; if the streets look dull, then the city is also dull.” The street, the meridian of the city, is the artery of urban development. Both to meet the capacity, carrying traffic, but also to have a lively flow of people to be called streets.

However, modern urban planning has also brought many problems to urban streets, mainly in some of the following areas: firstly, in busy large cities, the influence of traffic-driven thinking has reduced the function of many streets to purely traffic functions, with human activity giving way to the passage of motor vehicles.

In addition, the streets have been destroyed as the fabric of the city. In some areas, the wide modern streets have cut through the urban form and fabric of the city that has been historically inherited. As a consequence, the streets are losing their charm as the main public space of the city.

Different streets have different characters, presenting different images, faces and spatial characteristics, or solemn, or elegant, or lively, or quiet …… This is closely related to the nature of the street itself, the culture of the city in which the street is located, the climate, etc. There is no doubt that a vibrant road should have a character of its own.

Street dynamics The diversity of street functions brings about a diversity of street activities, and thus a diversity of street dynamics. Different people come to the street for different purposes (office, leisure, shopping, etc.) and these activities of different people in the street form part of the street’s vitality. It is the variety of people’s activities that makes the city’s streets vibrant. The external manifestation of a vibrant street is the variety of activities on the street, and the constituent elements of a vibrant street are the physical composition and environmental characteristics of the street to accommodate the diversity of activities.

Measures for living streets

“From roads to streets” is a change in the right of way from “motorized” to “pedestrianized”, a sign of progress in urban civilization, and of course means more detailed planning, design and management.

For example, the number of lanes and pavement widths can be quantified and controlled, and the design can be shifted from a pattern to a “tailor-made” design, so that a street of the same width can form a variety of cross-sections to cope with the different needs of vehicular and pedestrian traffic and stopping activities, and to shape the personality and characteristics of the street.

Living street design requires a balance between pedestrian and vehicular traffic, depending on the location and time of day. In the case of Shanghai, areas with high rail accessibility can have purely pedestrianised streets, while a large number of streets in central and residential areas should encourage mixed pedestrian and vehicular traffic (a prerequisite for slow traffic), balancing motorised accessibility with pedestrian safety, and promoting the interaction between street dynamics and shop life.

Living streets need to be shaped by considering the road red line as a whole, by increasing the number of pedestrian areas and stopping spaces, by providing street furniture such as seating and shop fronts according to human needs, and by facilitating the evolution of motorised traffic spaces into pedestrianised living spaces.

Living streets require an expansion of the focus from purely pavement to the whole of the street space including the interface on both sides. Urban form control requirements should be upgraded to encourage a reduction in the scale of setbacks and the formation of continuous street walls to reinforce the definition of street space, while promoting a smaller diversity of shops and a richness of businesses along the street.

The plan should provide overall control over the degree of site mix, street wall heights and ground floor uses in the area, and develop specific, quantifiable, market-interactive requirements.


LONDON LIVING STREETS Campaigning for safe and vibrant streets, where people want to walk. Retrieved from


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Planning and Landscape
Newcastle upon Tyne
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