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Many narrow or crowded downtown streets operate informally as shared streets during rush hour or at lunchtime, but are not regulated as such. A commercial shared street environment should be considered in places where pedestrian activity is high and vehicle volumes are either low or discouraged. Commercial shared streets can be designed for narrow or wide cross sections, but become increasingly complex and difficult to maintain as a shared space as width increases.
From 1960–80, many neighborhood main streets and downtown retail corridors were converted to pedestrian-only usage. these conversions were often called “pedestrian malls.” in an era of declining downtown retail revenues due to competition from shopping center developments outside of historic cores, many of these conversions were unsuccessful or suffered from poor maintenance and a lack of programming or policing.1
Commercial shared streets differ from this earlier generation of pedestrian malls in both their regulation and implementation. Shared streets maintain access for vehicles operating at low speeds and are designed to permit easy loading and unloading for trucks at designated hours. they are designed to implicitly slow traffic speeds using pedestrian volumes, design, and other cues to slow or divert traffic.
The street illustrated below depicts a 22-foot shared way within a 30-foot right-of-way.
A commercial shared street environment should be considered in places where pedestrian activity is high and vehicle volumes are either low or discouraged.
See Temporary Street Closures
“Channels and Runnels,” San Francisco Better Streets: A Guide to Making Street Improvements in San Francisco, accessed May 21, 2013, http://www.sfbetterstreets.org/ find-project-types/greening-and-stormwater-management/stormwater-overview/channels-and-runnels/.
Adapted from the Urban Street Design Guide, published by Island Press.