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Pasadena Context-Based Street Types System

City of Pasadena, California
Firm Role
Street design, multimodal transportation planning
2009 – 2010
141,000 residents, 23 square miles

Pasadena’s Context-Based Street Types System is helping the City reach its mobility, sustainability, and quality-of-life goals. The new types replaced the conventional “arterial, local, and collector” street classifications, which had done too little to make walking, bicycling, and riding transit safe and comfortable.

Patrick Siegman worked closely with City staff to develop the new types while a Principal at Nelson\Nygaard, as part of a consultant team led by Community Design + Architecture.

The new street type system supports both transportation and placemaking goals. Each block of each street is assigned a street type that reflects its transportation functions (e.g., a major transit and freight corridor) and land uses (e.g., shopfronts and sidewalk dining). The system has three components:

  • Context: the character and intensity of land uses along a block
  • Function: a system that differentiates streets by their functions, rather than just traffic volume, balancing modes as appropriate to transportation function and adjoining land uses
  • Overlays: unique factors that merit consideration, but do not define the predominant nature and design

The new types define, for each block, the relative balance and emphasis of transportation modes. Design criteria (e.g., for bicycle and travel lanes) vary to reflect both transportation and placemaking needs. The system integrates and balances numerous initiatives, from the City's bicycle and pedestrian plans to the regional bus rapid transit network. It replaces what had become a tangle of public policies about the role each street should play within the network. Implementing the system has helped Pasadena move forward with new street designs, resulting in fewer vehicle miles traveled and carbon emissions per capita.

Images courtesy of Community Design + Architecture and the City of Pasadena