‘Great Cities Start With Great Streets': ULI Endorses Urban Street Design Guide from National Association of City Transportation Officials

Photo:  Federal Highway Administration

Photo: Federal Highway Administration

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WASHINGTON (June 11, 2014) — The Urban Land Institute, a global research and education institute dedicated to responsible land use and creating sustainable communities, is endorsing the Urban Street Design Guide, published last year by the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO). The guide embraces the unique and complex challenge of designing urban streets, aiming to make streets safe for people whether they are walking, biking, using transit, or driving.

The guide’s emphasis on making alternative transportation modes accessible and safe reflects a trend toward making cities more people-friendly and less car-centric, according to ULI Global Chief Executive Officer Patrick L. Phillips. “Great cities start with great streets,” he said. “The Urban Street Design Guide upends long-held notions about how people get around in cities, and offers practical, well-thought recommendations on how to make streets more inviting. ULI is pleased to endorse the publication as a useful tool in the creation of cities that are economically prosperous, environmentally conscious and highly livable.”

The guide, available at nacto.org, provides a detailed set of design strategies for creating healthy urban streets, including language on lane widths, storm water management, sidewalks, and complex intersections. Based on best practices from cities across the U.S., it will be updated to reflect new and improved practices as they develop.

ULI’s endorsement of the guide is based on the recommendations of a ULI review committee comprised of several prominent members who serve on the institute’s product councils, a prestigious network of the industry’s foremost land use and urban development experts. “The guide exemplifies excellence by being clear, coherent and comprehensive, while promoting state-of-the-art street design and urban design,” said committee member James Moore, who serves on ULI’s Urban Revitalization Council and is a senior vice president for HDR in Tampa, Florida. “The guide is an incredible resource for ULI members and public officials.”

Other review committee members: Public Development and Infrastructure Council member Wes Guckert, president, The Traffic Group Inc., Baltimore; Urban Development and Mixed-Use Council member Jill Hatton, director of the University of Wisconsin Foundation Board, Boston; Transit-Oriented Development Council member John Hempelmann, chairman, Cairncross and Hempelmann, Seattle; Public-Private Partnership Council member Scott Mingonet, landscape architect, Kimley-Horn and Associates, Charlotte, North Carolina; Public-Private Partnership Council member Brad Power, director of economic development, Longmont, Colorado; and Urban Development and Mixed-Use Council member George Stanziale Jr., senior vice president and director of The Design Studio, Stewart, Inc., Raleigh, North Carolina.

The review committee concluded that NACTO’s process for developing the guide, which drew upon successful models that can be replicated, is consistent with ULI’s tradition of knowledge sharing and highlighting best practices. Committee members were also impressed with NACTO’s inclusion of interim solutions to improve pedestrian and cycling conditions while more permanent changes are designed. “Through the guide, NACTO is promoting a flexible, locally driven approach to street design policy,” Moore said.

The committee noted that by outlining alternatives to driving, the guide supports many of the same goals of ULI’s Building Healthy Places initiative, which highlights the role of well-planned urban design and development in creating communities that encourage healthy living. In addition, the guide’s recognition of well-designed streets as an economic asset is in accordance with ULI’s view of the factors that contribute to community prosperity and sustainability.

The committee recommended that ULI’s endorsement be used to raise awareness of the guide among ULI’s membership, including tailored programming for the institute’s extensive district council network, which reaches nearly 29,000 members in more than 50 markets in the U.S., and its product council network, which includes more than 2,000 members. The institute’s endorsement is the latest in a series of endorsements for the guide, including several from local and state departments of transportation, including the California Department of Transportation.

ULI Senior Visiting Fellow Gabe Klein, who formerly served as the head of the transportation departments for the cities of Chicago and Washington, D.C., endorsed the guide as commissioner of the Chicago Department of Transportation, and continues to raise awareness of the publication as a member of NACTO’s strategic advisory board. “This design guide gives planners and engineers around the U.S. solid urban standards they can rely on, and which policy makers can count on for sustainable, safe, inviting and therefore business- and people-friendly streets for current users and future generations,” Klein said.

About the Urban Land Institute
The Urban Land Institute (uli.org) is a global non-profit education and research institute supported by its members. Its mission is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide. Established in 1936, the Institute has more than 32,000 members worldwide representing all aspects of land use and development disciplines.