1. Love pedestrians. Pedestrians are crucial to the commercial success of a street. If you are a shop owner you want people strolling by your store and looking in the window. They cannot do this if they are in cars and negotiating traffic hazards. It’s surprising how often there is opposition from traders to schemes to block out traffic and give pedestrians a safe space free from the fumes of cars. However, it’s much rarer to hear of traders demanding a pedestrianized street be opened up to through traffic again. Denver has a Pedestrian priority Zone, and the strapline of the Downtown development Plan is “Implementing a Walkable City”. In these US cities laid out on a regular grid it is difficult to avoid a situation where streets carrying traffic cut across a pedestrian mall. However, through traffic signals, paving and having crossing points at sidewalk level rather than road level, you can show car drivers that this is a place where the pedestrian is the king. Boulder does this in its famous Pearl Street. Thought and care needs to be given to the design of all street intersections.

  2. Provide plenty of convenient free seating. You want people to stay and enjoy your street, not race through it. You can lure them by suggesting that they take a seat and watch what’s going on. Elderly people or those who find walking difficult are particularly likely to appreciate such provision. So are parents of young children, especially if there is something for the children to play on within viewing distance of the seats. OK, Boulder is lucky in having over 300 days of sunshine a year, so people will enjoy sitting in the sun. For colder, wetter places shelter is needed as well as a seat. The design of such shelters can add to or detract from the ambience of the street.

  3. Planting and pavements. Trees also provide shelter, whether from the sunshine in Boulder or the drizzle in Bergen. The trees are a strong feature of Pearl Street. Not only do they provide shade but they create a more intimate space, on what might otherwise be no more than four street blocks in a straight line. Lower level planting then fills out the gaps: shrubs and flowers and hanging baskets can be attractive in themselves. Small gardens can help steer pedestrians on a meandering route, sending the message this is a place to stroll through and enjoy. The hard surfaces also need some thought about design. Colour and texture of the pavement will create a feel about the place. You can also use the pavement to embed messages about the place, e.g. to insert slabs commemorating an event, or maybe even just telling a joke. What kind of atmosphere are you trying to create? You can also tell the story of the street on information boards placed at strategic points along it.

  4. Lighting. You need good lighting for functional reasons at night and during the winter. Even in the northern summer the glow of light as the sun goes down can add to the experience of the place. The lights should help to reinforce the design style of the street – modern or traditional, bright or more intimate, uniform or highlighting (literally) the grand features that are points of added interest or importance in the street.

  5. Public art. Commission some public art, but again think what kind of feeling you want to create. That in turn might depend on the type of street it is and the kind of uses that you hope to have fronting onto the street. Who are you trying to attract to the street, local residents or tourists? Young people or older people? Men or women? Again each place is different. Of course, the answer may be “all of them”. In which case maybe thing of breaking the street into sections (especially if it is cut across by other streets) and giving a different public art theme to each of them.

  6. Buildings. The plan for the pedestrian priority zone in Denver recognised that to keep pedestrians interested in the streetscape, buildings should vary in design or detail about every 15 metres. One thing that is important for a lively street is that you should be able to see into the ground floor level in the buildings. “Dead frontages”, such as those of banks or others that lack windows will encourage people to walk on rather than pause to see what is happening.

  7. Maintenance. It’s not enough to have a good looking street. You need to keep it that way. If a light is out it needs replacing. Litter needs to be tidied away, graffiti removed, plants pruned and replaced etc. The maintenance process needs to be planned and managed. It matters.

  8. Partnerships. A council can only do so much. Try to work with the local traders and property owners. It is important to recognise that these are not necessarily the same people. Unfortunately many retail properties are owned by investors whose offices may be far away from your town. It can be difficult to get all the players to co-operate, as some can gain the benefits from being on a great street without taking on extra costs and responsibilities. Many cities have found that it helps to have some kind of organisation – separate from the council, but including council representation – to focus efforts.
  9. Promotion and events. Build a profile and identity for your street. Use flags and banners to mark it out. Think of possible events that will draw in people. The proximity of Pearl Street to the university in Boulder means there is no shortage of events in the street, even if some of them have at times been on the wild side.

  10. Parking. While it might sound contradictory to mention parking in a piece that extols the attractions of walking, the reality is that many people are put off using city centre streets by the difficulty of finding convenient parking. In general people are only prepared to walk about 10 minutes to get to a destination. Parking can be controlled to favour short stay users – such as shoppers – rather than commuters.