General Layout Guidelines

The following guidelines should govern the placement of all streetscape elements:

  • Wisely allocate limited space: Given limited street space, streetscape elements may conflict with one another, limit visibility, block pedestrian travel, or create a sense of clutter. All streetscape elements should be located with consideration for the requirements and constraints of other streetscape elements that may be placed on the street. For example, tree locations should consider the scheme for street lighting and vice versa.
  • Strive for “wholeness”: Layout of streetscape elements should emphasize “wholeness,” or placement that looks at an entire block or corridor rather than individual placement of elements in a piecemeal fashion. The layout should consider the overall city pattern, provide a consistent aesthetic treatment, and be consistent with long term goals for the design and function of the street.
  • Accommodate pedestrian needs: he placement of streetscape elements should allow the comfortable and efficient flow of pedestrians along the street and from parked cars and adjacent buildings to the sidewalk. At the same time, streetscapes should provide a diversity of amenities and spaces for public enjoyment and include elements of surprise and variety that reflect the specifics of unique places.

Layout Guidelines by Element

Each streetscape element plays its own role in helping establish a safe and comfortable pedestrian realm. These guidelines provide an overview of layout considerations for standard streetscape elements. Detailed guidelines for each of these elements can be found on individual streetscape elements pages.

Appropriate Streetscape Elements by Sidewalk Zone

Sidewalk Zone Appropriate Elements (General)
FRONTAGE Merchandise displays, cafe seating, furnishings aligned with building frontage, planting along building frontage
THROUGHWAY Special paving, sub-surface utitlities.
FURNISHINGS Trees and plantings, seating, bicycle racks, community kiosks, cafe seating, public art, utility boxes and vaults, other site furnishings
EDGE Street lights, parking meters, signage poles, bollards, sub-surface utilities, non-continuous tree basins.
EXTENSION Planting and seating areas in flexible parking zones or on curb extensions, trees in islands

Street Trees

Street TreesStreet trees should be the primary organizing elements of the streetscape.

Spacing: Street trees should be placed in a continuous line with consistent spacing to establish a visual rhythm for the street. Other streetscape elements should be located to minimize conflicts with potential street tree locations.

It is preferable to place trees slightly off the exact desired spacing than to leave a gap. Tree planting should extend as close to the intersection as feasible.

Where sidewalk width allows, double rows of trees may be planted.

Location: Generally, street trees should be planted in the furnishing zone. Trees may also be planted in the extension zone where space and visibility allows.

Special Considerations: Trees planted in a median should complement the scale, character, and rhythm of trees in the sidewalk. Trees in medians provide an opportunity to create a consistent rhythm, as their placement is less likely to vary due to driveways, utilities, and other sidewalk constraints. Alternatively, wide medians provide an opportunity for creative planting designs that create a unique aesthetic to complement the more regular pattern on the sidewalk.

Sidewalk Landscaping

Sidewalk LandscapingGround-level planting, including in-ground (understory planting) and containerized (above-ground planting), complements street trees and adds vibrancy and diversity to the street.

Spacing: Ground-level planting should be consistent in spacing, scale, and shape along a block or corridor and on both sides of the street.

Location: Ground-level planting should be located in the furnishings and frontage zone. Planters should come as near to corners, driveways, and other streetscape elements as possible. Understory planting may be located in tree basins or in landscaped planting strips.

Special Considerations: A 4 foot walkable path should be provided for at the center of each parking space to provide access to parked vehicles between planting areas. Subsurface utility vaults, poles, and streetlights may be located within the surface planter beds if they are concrete-set.

Street Lighting

Street LightingStreet lighting works in conjunction with street trees to establish the rhythm of the streetscape. On streets where it is not feasible to plant trees, street lighting may be the primary organizing element.

Spacing: Street light spacing should be consistent along the length of a block or corridor. Exact spacing may vary based on the height of light fixtures and desired light levels.

Lighting on medians should complement the scale, character, and rhythm of lighting on the sidewalk.

Location: In general, lighting should be located in the edge zone. Pedestrian-scaled lighting may also be appropriate in the frontage zone. Lighting should be offset from street trees in a regular pattern, either mid-way between trees or at a consistent distance on either side.

Special Considerations: Where separate poles for roadway and pedestrian lights exist, each should be spaced in an even pattern; however, this pattern may need to be adjusted to achieve specific desired light levels.

Street Furniture

Street Furniture OverviewSite furnishings such as benches, community kiosks, and trash cans add greatly to the character, comfort and functionality of a streetscape. Consideration should be given to proper placement and design.

Spacing: Site furnishings should be placed in predictable locations, particularly near transit stops, at corner locations on short blocks, and at mid-block locations on longer blocks. Site furnishings should be evenly spaced along the street; where possible, they may be integrated with other streetscape elements. For example, benches or bike racks can double as tree guards, reducing the number of furnishings and potential for clutter.

Location: Site furnishings should be aligned in the center of the Furnishing Zone. Some furnishings such as bicycle racks and benches should be perpendicular to the roadway where sidewalk width allows, in order to efficiently use sidewalk space. Site furnishings should be located at the ends of on-street parking stalls rather than at the center where possible to make it easier for passengers to get in and out of parked cars. Site furnishings should leave sufficient clear width when fully loaded, opened, or occupied.

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