For our communities, the streets are the lifeline. They are also the basis of our urban economy. They accounted for more than 80 percent of all urban public spaces. In addition, they help promote business activities, providing people with a safe place, whether it is walking, cycling, car or transit. Because of the vitality of urban life, the design method is very sensitive to the streets, which played a multi-faceted role (NACTO, 2013).
During peak hours or at the lunchtime, many narrow or crowded urban streets became shared streets informally, but this is not a limitation. When designing the environment of a commercial shared street, the designers are supposed to consider where there is a high level of pedestrian activity, low volume or discouragement of vehicles (Amstel, 2017).
Commercial shared streets can be designed to be narrow or wide in cross-section. In the era with declines in retail sales in urban streets, which caused by the developments of shopping centres outside the historical core, plenty of conversions have not been successful, or have been affected by poor maintenance and lack of programming or security. The commercial shared streets are supposed to be a way to keep vehicles running at a low speed. In addition, this kind of street should be designed to allow trucks to be loaded and unloaded at the designed times. Their aim is to slow down the traffic by using pedestrian volumes, design, and other clues (NACTO, 2013). There are also some different ways and designs of the commercial shared streets to slow down the traffic and maintain a better shared space.
The textured or permeable surface flush with the curb enhances the priority rights for the pedestrian on the streets. It also defines a non-linear or narrow lane. The material of those special roads, especially unit spreaders should be chosen based on regional climate and long-term durability, because they may incur additional maintenance costs (National Association of City Transportation Officials. 2013, p. 28).
Case study in Newcastle
Connecting street networks could help people to choose sustainable ways of traveling. Those streets with the most integrated people and activity civilizations will most likely be used by a wide range of people and activities. In Newcastle, Blackett Street and Side/Sandhill are not part of the regular road schedule. The yellow lines are instead by the ‘pedestrian zone’ status in this area, but the streets are still open to the buses, bikes and occasional car traffic. This plan has played an important role in the transportation network in the city centre. It has also presented innovative solutions to deal with the relationship between traffic and the public realm. In Newcastle, work on Blackett Street and the Docklands has always respected the historical background and emphasized the connection with the defining dramatic terrain of the city (Designcouncil.org.uk, 2007).
Figure 1: Blackett Street, Newcastle
Figure 2 Side/Sandhill
However, in order to incorporate traffic engineering into a more comprehensive responsibility for public spaces, local authorities also face organizational challenges. It is not only the challenge of the climate. Some disabled people, especially those with visual impairments expressed concern about the safety of the streets because the space between pedestrians and motorists is not clearly defined (Designcouncil.org.uk, 2007). In general, smart street design improves lives in plenty of ways. It can reduce air pollution, making streets much safer and promoting local businesses. For the recent society, the design of urban streets, not only the design of commercial shared streets could still be improved.
Figure 3 Quayside
Sources of images:
Figure 1: https://www.freefoto.com/preview/1043-10-3/Shoppers–Blackett-Street–Newcastle-upon-Tyne
Figure 2: http://redsqdesign.co.uk/top-5-architectural-wonders-newcastle-upon-tyne/
Figure 3: http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=982536&page=322
NACTO. (2013). Urban Street Design Guide – National Association of City Transportation Officials. [online] Available at: https://nacto.org/publication/urban-street-design-guide/ [Accessed 18 May 2018].
Amstel, W. (2017). How to develop a commercial shared street? – CityLogistics. [online] Citylogistics.info. Available at: http://www.citylogistics.info/research/how-to-develop-a-commercial-shared-street/ [Accessed 18 May 2018].
Designcouncil.org.uk. (2007). This way to better streets: 10 case studies on improving street design. [online] Available at: https://www.designcouncil.org.uk/sites/default/files/asset/document/10%3Dcase-studies-this-way-to-better-streets.pdf [Accessed 19 May 2018].
National Association of City Transportation Officials. (2013) Urban street design guide. Washington: Island Press. Available at: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=ybBJAQAAQBAJ&pg=PA28&lpg=PA28&dq=Special+pavements,+especially+unit+pavers,+may+be+subject+to+additional+maintenance+costs+and+should+be+selected+based+on+regional+climate+and+long-term+durability.+Selection+of+snowplow-compatible+materials+is+recommended+for+colder+climates.+Drainage+channels+should+be+provided+either+at+the+center+of+the+street+or+along+the+flush+curb,+depending+on+existing+conditions+and+the+overall+street+width.+Drainage+channels+are+often+used+to+define+the+traveled+way+from+the+clear+path.&source=bl&ots=ARs5GfeiHu&sig=L-Ci1OVCYeU0_wJN1h7JJrQfuGc&hl=zh-CN&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiehf7fr5LbAhUlC8AKHQdwDEAQ6AEILzAB#v=onepage&q&f=false [Accessed 19 May 2018].