“A woonerf is a street or square where cars, pedestrians, cyclists, and other local residents travel together without traditional safety infrastructure to guide them. Also sometimes called a “shared street,” a woonerf is generally free of traffic lights, stop signs, curbs, painted lines, and the like.”
Prior to implementing any shared streets, cities should experiment with car free times to assess the impact to traffic patterns. This is done annually in South Bend for events like Art Beat or Sunburst, but could be done more regularly on First Fridays to determine any necessary adjustments. It’s important to note, this recommendation is not for the return of pedestrian malls, which have had limited success around the US. More, it’s advocating for an expansion of use for our streets, to more fully multimodal and equitable, taking advantage of the significant land area that streets consume. Also, this is not for all streets, primarily the ones with high pedestrian volume, where adjacent businesses could leverage the available space, to more fully create the vibrant city we all seek.
NACTO highlights a few key recommendations for shared streets:
- Textured Pavement: Helps to reduce scale for pedestrians, blur lines between standard zones (sidewalk vs street), while providing some necessary definition and durability for multiple uses.
- Accessibility: For small vehicles, traveling at low speeds, as well as pedestrians and bicyclists.
- Street furniture: Provide some definition of spaces, while also offering flexibility of programming.