Designing Walkable Urban Thoroughfares: A Context Sensitive Approach

Institute for Transportation Engineers (ITE)

Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU)

Subconsultant to KHA

2004 - 2006

CD+A was part of a multidisciplinary team led by Kimley-Horn and Associates that worked for the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) and the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) to prepare the Designing Walkable Urban Thoroughfares: A Context Sensitive Approach, an ITE Recommended Practice (2010) document. CD+A was the lead urban design and land use consultant and in its work focused on the linkages between thoroughfare design and urban design context, and the development of guidance for the design of the pedestrian realm of thoroughfares, and the specific relationship between streetscape elements and a thoroughfare's context.

In the initial stages of work on the manual the project focused on developing a new major thoroughfare classification system with a finer grain than the conventional system based on principal and minor arterials and collector streets. While this new system of thoroughfares included all types, ranging from freeways to alleys or rear lanes, the guidance provided in the document focuses on three major thoroughfare types the boulevard and multi-way boulevard, the avenue, and the street. These thoroughfare types are cross-referenced to a set of Context Zones, which build from the Transect developed by DPZ Architects, and include an additional layer of information regarding the predominant land use within a Context Zone. Defining the design process of Context Sensitive Design and providing clear design criteria and characteristics for each combination of thoroughfare type and Context Zone are at the heart of the design guidance.

CD+A's work on the manual included the preparation of diagrams and other graphics to clearly communicate the urban design framework for designing walkable urban thoroughfares. In addition, the firm focused on design guidance for the pedestrian realm of thoroughfares, which includes the areas beyond the curbs of thoroughfares and the intersections, where all modes of transportation mix. This work drew on CD+A's extensive experience in streetscape and urban design, and particularly our experience in developing technical and design guidelines for pedestrian accessibility. 

The ITE Proposed Recommended Practice version of the document (Context Sensitive Solutions in Designing Major Urban Thoroughfares for Walkable Communities) was published in 2006 and circulated over the following year for use and comment. The final ITE Recommended Practice was published in 2010 under the new title: Designing Walkable Urban Thoroughfares: A Context Sensitive Approach.