While shared streets are inherently flexible and can be used differently at peak travel times and peak business or activity periods, high traffic volumes erode pedestrian benefits. Reduce through-vehicle volumes by forcing non-transit vehicles to turn at key intersections. In most settings, the desired maximum vehicle volume will be roughly 1,000–1,500 vehicles per day. With very high pedestrian activity, it may be possible to accommodate 2,000–3,000 vehicles per day while preserving a strong pedestrian character.
Shared transit street right-of-way widths may vary, but the shared traveled way must be kept visually narrow and periodically constrained to strongly encourage low automobile speeds (10–15 mph or lower is desired). On shared streets with sufficient width for both a central traveled way and accessible pedestrian-only areas, street furniture, including bollards, benches, green infrastructure, street lights, and bicycle parking, may be sited to provide definition for a shared space, subtly delineating the shared traveled way from the pedestrian-only area.
While traffic speeds are considerably reduced on shared streets, average transit speeds are typically appropriate for short sections of local service. Shared streets have the potential to improve transit speed or reliability if general traffic volumes are reduced, or if intersection traffic controls can be eliminated as part of the shared street design.
All transit vehicle technologies can be used on shared streets. Low-emissions or no-emissions buses have a lower impact on the shared pedestrian environment than an internal-combustion fleet.
Transit frequency is a larger factor than vehicle type in shared street design. With high transit vehicle volume (such as 10–12 buses per hour), the pedestrian environment may degrade, eroding some of the public space benefits of the shared design. These benefits can be restored by further reducing the presence of mixed motor vehicle traffic. For very high transit volumes, a conventional transit mall design with large sidewalks is preferred.
Open sightlines, along with human-scale lighting, promote safety and comfort. Vegetation and planters mitigate the effects of vehicle noise.
At transit stops, small elevated platform areas can be developed alongside the shared traveled way to provide near-level or level boarding areas. Lifts, bridge plates, and ramps such as mini-high platforms can also be used to create accessible boarding (ADA Std. 810.5.3).
If a shared transit street is frequently closed to traffic to accommodate special events, plan alternate bus routes and evaluate rider impacts to determine whether permanent rerouting should be considered.
Sidewalks on crossing streets should cross the shared street at or near the level of the sidewalk. Detectable surfaces must be provided for pedestrian movements that cross the shared street at intersections.
See more guidance on shared streets in the Urban Street Design Guide.