NACTO’s awesome new Urban Street Design Guide is now online

Today, the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) unveiled the Urban Street Design Guide, a new design manual for city streets.

NACTO's Urban Street Design Guide (USDG)

A blueprint for the 21st century streetscape, the Urban Street Design Guide demonstrates how streets of every size can be reimagined and reoriented as safe, sustainable public spaces for people walking, driving, biking, and taking transit.

The Guide emphasizes the core principles for making urban streets great public places with an instrumental role in building communities. More parklets, anyone?

Credit: @NACTO4Cities
Credit: @NACTO4Cities

From a standing-room only launch event in DC, here were some of the audience members’ initial reactions.

Info-packed with more than 80 chapters, the Urban Street Design Guide contains interactive diagrams, photo slideshows, illustrations and visual examples from other cities.

A chapter on designing green alleys from NACTO's Urban Street Design Guide
Learn best practices for designing green alleys


A chapter on designing curb extensions from NACTO's Urban Street Design Guide
What do curb extensions achieve?


A subset of types of complex intersections in the USDG
A subset of types of complex intersections in the USDG

Where can I find the guide?

The guide is available both in print ($50, Island Press) and online (

Who made the guide?

The guide was made possible the the collaboration of a lot of people. Brendan and I built the web version (yay!).

Tell me more.

The guide is a follow-up to NACTO’s successful Urban Bikeway Design Guide, released in 2011. The Urban Street Design Guide provides a holistic view of the street that includes all of the designs from the Bikeway Guide within a plan for the entire street.

“NACTO’s Urban Street Design Guide is a toolkit for cities to create safe, multi-modal streets that meet the needs of all users, providing an alternative to existing design books that treat city streets as mini-expressways,”

said Janette Sadik-Khan, New York City Transportation Commissioner and President of NACTO. “The innovative strategies outlined in the Guide are transforming the streets of New York, advancing a people-oriented approach to transportation policies.”

Recognizing the need for improved guidance, officials and practitioners from NACTO member cities worked with a team of leading planners and designers to document best practices in contemporary urban street design. Guide users can view detailed plan drawings, renderings of the designs, and pictures of innovative projects from around the country.

“These state-of-the-art guidelines demonstrate that cities are leading the way in designing inviting and functional streetscapes,” said Edward Reiskin, San Francisco Director of Transportation and NACTO Vice President.

“From parklets to green alleys, innovative transportation projects that are piloted in cities like San Francisco have spread to more and more cities across the country. The Guide should be adopted as the new standard for street design.”

Bruce Katz, vice president and founding director of the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program, notes:

“The Urban Street Design Guide shows how cities can transform the most basic infrastructure to give people and companies what they demand: vibrant places that offer more choices, better connectivity and a higher quality of life.”

As Chicago implements our Make Way for People Initiative, the principles included in the Urban Street Design Guide have proven essential to creating walkable neighborhoods,” said Gabe Klein, Chicago Transportation Commissioner and Treasurer of NACTO. “The Guide is helping Chicago build complete streets and public plazas that support local businesses and vibrant community life.”

Michael Myers, Senior Policy Officer at The Rockefeller Foundation, which supported the book, called the Urban Street Design Guide “a powerful new tool to reimagine city streets as transformative urban environments that meet the needs of everyone from pedestrians to drivers.”

“This is what success looks like,” said Darryl Young, Director of Sustainable Cities at The Summit Foundation, which also supported the book. “The Guide shows how to design a street and city that works for all of us.”

“Today’s cities must pursue a variety of transportation options, offering safe, convenient, and inclusive choices to residents and visitors,” said Wylie Bearup, Phoenix Streets Department Director and NACTO Secretary. “The Guide is an exceptional resource for cities like Phoenix as we redesign urban streets.”

The NACTO Guide can be adopted by individual cities, counties, or states as either a stand-alone document or as a supplement to other roadway guidance documents.

Development of the Guide was supported by The Summit Foundation and The Rockefeller Foundation.

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