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Commercial alleys, though often thought of as dirty or unsafe, can be designed to play an integral role in a downtown street network and improve the pedestrian realm in and around commercial areas.
The design of commercial alleys should strive to balance their necessary utilitarian features with their placemaking potential.
The alley shown below depicts a 10-foot wide path within a 20-foot right-of-way.
Where access for vehicles is prohibited or minimal, commercial alleys may be constructed using low-impact pavement materials, such as pervious or modular paving.
San Francisco Better Streets Plan (San Francisco: City of San Francisco: 2012), 53.
Adapted from the Urban Street Design Guide, published by Island Press.