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Placemaking for Communities


Project for Public Spaces (PPS) is a nonprofit planning, design and educational organization dedicated to helping people create and sustain public spaces that build stronger communities. Our pioneering Placemaking approach helps citizens transform their public spaces into vital places that highlight local assets, spur rejuvenation and serve common needs.


PPS was founded in 1975 to apply and expand on the work of William (Holly) Whyte, the author of The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces. Since then, we have completed projects in over 3000 communities in 43 countries and all 50 US states. Partnering with public and private organizations, federal, state and municipal agencies, business improvement districts, neighborhood associations and other civic groups, we improve communities by fostering successful public spaces.


Having been brought into to apply Placemaking in a broad range of contexts around the world, an increasing focus of our work is in training and capacity building, often helping to build local Placemaking organizations. PPS trains more than 10,000 people every year and reaches countless more through our websites and publications. PPS is the internationally recognized center for resources, tools and inspiration about Placemaking.


Through research, conferences, and strategic partnerships, PPS promotes Placemaking through a series of transformative agendas to address some of the most pressing issues of our time. Our Building Community Through Transportation agenda runs a biannual ProWalk/ProBike conference through our National Center for Bicycling & Walking (NCBW) which is a resident program of PPS. Our leadership on Public Markets has included a regular international conference series as well.


Internationally, we are looking to influence the governance of developing cities and nations though our partnership with UN Habitat. We are doing this through trainings and projects and a joint conference series, called the Future of Places, that will culminate in a written document to encourage the adoption of Placemaking principles at the Habitat III UN global gathering in 2016.


Through the development of a Placemaking Leadership Council (including over 500 members) PPS is working to support a broad network to drive the further evolution of Placemaking and build its potential impact as a movement.


In its broadest application, Placemaking is a catalyst for building healthy, sustainable and economically viable cities of the future.





PPS is structured around seven agendas that have the potential to transform cities by breaking down what Placemaking means and how it can happen. These agendas form a lens through which we can view the greater mission of PPS.






Edited by IluvMTL
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Rightsizing Streets


The needs of our communities evolve over time, and our street design should, too. That’s the idea behind ‘rightsizing streets’ – reconfiguring the layout of our streets to better serve the people who use them, whether they’re commuters driving, shoppers walking, or children bicycling. Across the country, communities large and small are achieving impressive safety, mobility, and community outcomes by implementing such reconfigurations. Project for Public Spaces created this rightsizing resource to highlight the accomplishments of these communities and share best practices. Our transportation staffcan advise stakeholders and decision-makers, skillfully facilitate a rightsizing process, andadeptly produce rightsized designs for agencies and community groups.

Case Studies



Stone Way, Seattle, WA



“The Porch” Philadelphia, PA



Raymond Ave, Poughkeepsie, NY



Prospect Park West, Brooklyn, NY



Edgewater Dr, Orlando, FL



East Blvd, Charlotte, NC



Broadway, New York, NY



Bridgeport Way, University Place, WA



Nebraska Ave, Tampa, FL



Main St/US 395, Bridgeport, CA



Park East Frwy, Milwaukee, WI



Octavia Blvd, San Francisco, CA


See the Rightsizing Projects Map for more examples of rightsizing or to submit a rightsizing project to be added to the map.

What is ‘Rightsizing’ a Street?


Rightsizing is the process of reallocating a street’s space to better serve its full range of users. Picture a four lane road that was built thirty years ago in an undeveloped area, but that now has housing, shops, and an elementary school in close vicinity. The needs of the community surrounding that road have changed over three decades – and the design of that road may need to change to meet those needs as well. It may need a sidewalks or a median to help people cross safely, or on-street parking for folks who want to frequent local shops, or other safety features to prevent injuries. Rightsizing a road can encompass a broad array of redesign measures, and should always be sensitive to context and the vision of the local community, but often involves some or all of the following goals and strategies:


Typical Goals



    [*=left]Increasing safety and access for all users
    [*=left]Encouraging walking, biking, and transit use
    [*=left]Supporting businesses and the local economy
    [*=left]Creating places that foster community livability

See Project Selection and Before & After Measurements for more info on selecting streets for rightsizing and methods of measuring rightsizing’s outcomes.


Typical Strategies



    [*=left]Converting vehicle travel lanes to other uses
    [*=left]Narrowing vehicle lanes
    [*=left]Adding bike lanes
    [*=left]Improving pedestrian infrastructure
    [*=left]Changing parking configuration
    [*=left]Adding roundabouts and medians

See the glossary of rightsizing strategies for definitions and background links


See the list of Further Reading on Rightsizing for the leading technical research and reports on rightsizing from trusted organization like ITE, FHWA, and AASHTO.



A typical 4 to 3 Lane Rightsizing Project (Image Credit: Seattle DOT, Edited by PPS)


Street rightsizing projects are sometimes called ‘road diets,’ or ‘Complete Streets,’ but rightsizing also describes street redesigns that might be considered outside of those frameworks.


Communities and transportation departments around the country are successfully implementing street rightsizing projects, with impressive results. Collecting before-and-after data about key issues like safety, mode splits, and mobility is crucial to ensuring that these projects meet their communities’ needs and stated goals. Each case study in this resource includes before-and-after results.


Rightsizing: Transforming a Street to a Place


Rightsizing a street is often a prerequisite to the street becoming a place where people want to be, instead of just a corridor to pass through. Rightsizing reconfigures a street to best serve the people who need to use it, whether they’re drivers, pedestrians, or bicyclists. By improving safety, especially for people walking or biking, and by increasing space devoted to people, rightsizing projects cause vehicles to slow down and people to spend more time outside on the street. This is great for people who live in the street’s vicinity, businesses that line it, and those who travel through it.

The most common type of street rightsizing converts a two-way four lane street to a three lane street. Removing one of the vehicle lanes can free up space to add or expand pedestrian, bicycle infrastructure, and on-street parking, or other uses. A rightsized three lane street commonly has one traffic lane and one bicycle lane in each direction, with a shared two-way left hand turn lane in the center that allows cars in both directions to make a left. These changes help make a street better for the range of people using it, typically without restricting vehicle volumes or lengthening travel times.


Nebraska Avenue, A Typical 4 to 3 Lane Rightsizing Project (Photo Credit: Florida DOT)


However, many other street changes could compose a rightsizing project. For instance, on Prospect Park West, in Brooklyn, a one-way three lane street was converted to a two lane street with a protected bike lane, and The Porch in Philadelphia converted unnecessary parking to a successful public space.

Rightsizing works. Our case studies highlight these projects’ positive impacts, and significant academic research confirms that vehicle lanes can be converted to other purposes to achieve safety goals without negative transportation impacts. Rightsizing enables mobility for all users, increases safety for all users, and can contribute to the vitality of communities. The Strategies Glossary includes research describing the positive effects of many of the most common rightsizing strategies.

Rightsizing facilitates street safety. Traffic calming improves safety by reducing dangerous driving speeds and movements. Speeding vehicles are exponentially more dangerous than vehicles traveling at appropriate speeds. Over 80% of pedestrians hit by vehicles traveling 40 miles per hour die, compared to less than 10% that are hit at vehicles traveling 20 miles per hour. Dedicated pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure also improves street safety.


East Boulevard Crossing (Photo Credit: City of Charlotte)


Rightsizing improves street access for pedestrians by increasing safety and appeal. All transportation trips at least start and end as pedestrian trips, regardless of the intermediate mode. Making these trips safer and more enjoyable for people is crucial for communities’ physical health, the cultivation of public spaces, and the success of street-fronted businesses. Not all transportation modes are created equal. Each has its own advantages in terms of safety, cost, efficiency, speed, and inclusivity. When redesigning a street, it is vital to prioritize designs that enable safe mobility for particularly vulnerable users, such as children and elderly pedestrians.


Prospect Park West: A street for cars, vs. a rightsized place for everyone (Photo Credit: NYC DOT)


Project for Public Spaces often encourages rightsizing to enable community-driven placemaking, and created this resource to encourage best practices and to raise awareness of rightsizing’s benefits for communities and for cities’ most common public space — the street.

Special thanks to the Anne T & Robert M Bass Foundation for their support as well as the Congress for the New Urbanism, Daniel Gallagher of Charlotte, Jeffery Arms of Orlando, Brian Dougherty of Seattle, and many more for their expertise and consultation. If you have a case study or other input to improve our resources on rightsizing streets, please email [email protected] with “rightsizing” in the subject line.


Edited by IluvMTL
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  • 2 weeks later...



Shared Spaces and Slow Zones: Comparing Public Space in Paris and New York


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This is the first part of an article by PPS Intern Clémence Morlet – a planner and transportation engineer recently graduated from the Ecole des Ponts in Paris where she studied and worked on transportation projects in the Paris region including the Grand Paris Express subway lines and bus rapid transit systems. She turns her attention now towards a comparison between transportation policies in New York and Paris to show how these global cities can learn from each other and create more (and better) spaces for people.

Everyday, high-density global cities are home to millions of pedestrians in their streets. Paradoxically though, many streets and transportation policies continue to place more space and importance on cars rather than people.

In Paris, where I hail from, almost 60% of journeys are exclusively pedestrian (this is without any consideration of walking as a part of a multimodal trip). New York City, which is more than four times larger than Paris with relatively low-density & little public transit in outer boroughs compared to Paris, still has a pedestrian mode share of 34% for all trips citywide ahead of car (33%) and transit (30%). Furthermore, 53% of Manhattan workers who live in Manhattan use no car, bus, subway or train in their everyday trips but instead walk, ride a bicycle or motorcycle, take a taxicab, or work at home. Having experienced this for myself in both cities, I decided to compare the two: How do they support this large pedestrian population and decrease auto-dominance in public space?

Since his first election in 2001, the current mayor of Paris Bertrand Delanoë has been fully committed to a reduction of exclusive car-allocated public spaces in Paris.


Starting in 2012, the Pedestrian Paris Initiative has been aimed at shifting the focus from other modes of transportation to pedestrians in order to enhance sustainable mobility and the urban experience in Paris. This municipal program is changing Paris streets by freeing and activating the public space through wider sidewalks, reused former parking strips in adding café terraces, benches, greenery, fountains, or bike racks to enhance street activities and uses. ‘Pedestrian Paris’ has also focused on new and fairer mobility rules between motorized vehicles, public transportation, bikes, and pedestrians, implementing lower speed limit areas with new bicycle and pedestrian street rights.


The Pedestrian Paris Initiative was followed by a street-sharing action plan launched in 2013 with quantified and short-term targets to extend 20 MPH zones, create new shared spaces, and implement specific rights for people on bikes and pedestrians. In practice, a shared space has to be opened to any modes of transportation under a 12 MPH speed limit with pedestrians having priority over any other users. Pedestrians can circulate on the pavement if they do not stand and bikes can circulate in both directions in every street with free right turns (at crossroads with traffic lights).

Does NYC have equivalent urban policies? In New York City, two measures of note are the Plaza and Neighborhood Slow Zone Programs. The Plaza Program transforms underused street spaces, mostly dedicated to cars, into pedestrian public spaces, while the Slow Zone Program reduces the speed limit from 30 to 20 MPH and adds safety measures within residential areas.

Both programs have points of comparison with the systems in Paris. The Plaza Program tends to increase pedestrian-friendly street space. However, it creates exclusively-pedestrian areas but no mixed-use street spaces. The Neighborhood Slow Zone Program tends to calm down traffic in residential areas but does not make the pedestrian a top priority street user or change the car-dominance atmosphere of the place.


I think it’s interesting to compare the slow zone and shared space policies as ways to create multi-user streets. Could those new spaces witness a shift away from standard traffic codes towards a safer and more livable street code to regulate urban mobility behaviors? I think so!

What do Paris shared spaces and NYC slow zones look like? At first glance, a shared space and a slow zone have major similarities. In NYC, Paris-style road marks are stenciled with speed bumps and chicanes. But what about the atmosphere? A visit to the first NYC slow zone (Claremont zone in the Bronx) reveals a large majority of inhabitants and store owners do not even know the neighborhood specific speed limits, cars still drive too fast, and I did not notice any people on bikes in the streets.


In Paris, the local association’s involvement through street activities and events in the newly shared spaces indicates a better understanding of the area’s potential for pedestrians, inhabitants and passers-by. However, it seems more complex to consider shared spaces on their own. Indeed, shared spaces are often implemented within or next to a major urban redevelopment. For instance, the newly refurbished Place de la République has been commercially activated by the area. This leads me to wonder: what is the role of the shared spaces around it in spreading the positive impact? Secondly, many shared spaces are located in streets where there were already a lot of pedestrians and bicycles all day. The new rules mainly regulate mobility behaviors with more official rights and spaces for pedestrians and people on bicycles.


Beyond this first glance, shared spaces in Paris and New York’s slow zones differ from each other in many aspects showing that both cities are not at the same step towards a street-sharing plan we can accept. In the second part, I will explore how each city implements their programs, community involvement, and what the next steps should be!


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IluvMTL tes interventions sont remarquables et d'un immense intérêt. Elles montrent que bien penser une ville se fait dans le détail, à l'échelle de l'individu, qu'il soit piéton, cycliste ou automobiliste. On voit bien tout le travail constructif qu'il y a à faire pour améliorer nos villes et les rendre plus conviviales. Certaines interventions s'appliquent à l'ensemble, d'autres à des quartiers spécifiques, mais le résultat est toujours positif et inspirant. C'est un vrai cours d'urbanisme qui est présenté ici, où on peut constater que le sujet est vaste et en constante évolution.


Si j'avais à recommencer ma vie, c'est dans cette discipline que je voudrais me lancer, car l'habitat est au coeur de la vie en société, et détermine assurément sa qualité tout autant que sa pérennité.

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Moi aussi je me lancera dans l’urbanisme... Ceci étant dit, je pense que nous sommes tous déjà des urbanistes par instinct, surtout quand on parle de l'identification des problématiques. Nous habitons dans des villages et des villes depuis des siècles et nous savons facilement quand les choses vont mal. Les bonnes solutions proviennent souvent des citoyens, des fois mieux reussite que ceux avancés par les professionnelles, car les personnes qui vivent les situations au quotidien les comprennent souvent mieux que les fonctionnaires.

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C'est vrai et ils sont pour cela plus pragmatiques et réalistes. Cependant il est plus facile d'identifier un problème que d'en trouver la solution, surtout dans la complexité de nos villes modernes. C'est là où le professionnel entre en jeu. Aussi pour ceux qui ont une formation plus spécialisée, il leur est alors plus aisé d'imaginer la ville idéale en fonction des réalités d'aujourd'hui. En fait on pourrait dire que tout part d'un rêve, qu'il soit citoyen ou plus réfléchi sur le plan administratif ou politique, le but est le même: améliorer la ville et en tirer le maximum sur le plan de la qualité de vie.


C'est pour cela que la participation citoyenne m'apparait si importante. La ville ne doit pas se contenter de simplement proposer et consulter, mais aussi être réceptive aux idées de ses résidents. Car après tout ils peuvent devenir leurs meilleurs collaborateurs et certainement leurs meilleurs alliés. Dans ce type de relation et d'échanges, tout le monde y gagne: la ville, le parti au pouvoir, les groupes d'individus et la population en général. Ce que j'appellerais la démocratie participative, largement pratiquée notamment en Suisse, pays modèle, tout comme dans les pays scandinaves qui ont d'ailleurs beaucoup à nous apprendre.

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  • 1 year later...



Attache Ta Tuque! Placemaking the Quebecois Way



By Jane Snyder on Mar 11, 2015 | Leave a Comment




Two night parades – taking place in opposite ends of the city on the second and third weekends – light up the night at Québec City’s Carnaval | Photo courtesy Carnaval de Québec

Placemaking is a year-round passion in Québec. With average January temperatures of -13 degrees C (9°F) and lots of snow, people in the Canadian province of Québec could understandably choose to hide indoors for the winter. When I visited this wintery city, however, it quickly became clear that residents have embraced the cold. Here’s how a few spots in Québec that have made Placemaking cool.

Winter Festivals in Québec: When life gives you snow—dance!

Québec City’s famous Carnaval is the grand-daddy of winter festivals. Aiming to become the world’s biggest winter festival, Carnaval has invigorated and inspired the city for sixty-one years. While Carnaval festivities and programming have recently spread to outlying neighborhoods, the main action takes place on the Plains of Abraham in “le monde de Bonhomme” (Bonhomme—the smiling, belted, traditional Québecois snowman—is the festival’s mascot). I visited the festivities on the outskirts of Québec City on Troisième (Third) Avenue, where I sampled la tire—maple syrup that has been cooked to a gooey thickness, which is then poured onto fresh snow and hardened into taffy. With this maple sweetness on a stick, I strolled down Troisième Avenue while people played street games all around me. Music filled the streets, and colorful sleds laden with children slid across the snow in every direction. And this street party lasts for three weeks!



Carnaval opening ceremony’s fireworks | Photo courtesy Carnaval de Québec

There during Carnaval’s opening weekend, I witnessed the exciting opening night spectacle that culminated in a fireworks display and outdoor dance party. Dancing is an inclusive sport in Québec, I learned, as I joined the celebratory crowds of families with children, groups of teenagers, seniors, locals, and visitors. These requisite dance parties also ensue during the event’s two nighttime parades, which take place on opposite ends of the city on the second and third weekends of Carnaval.


Ice canoeing is one of the intense winter events that take place at Québec City’s Carnaval | Photo courtesy Carnaval de Québec

When life gives you ice—make a luge!

Just as Carnaval in Québec City brings its community together, smaller villages across Québec also use winter festivals as community development and Placemaking tools. The village of St. Côme, for example, which sits on the edge of the Laurentian Mountains in the region of Lanaudière, hosts one of the oldest winter ice-carving festivals in the world. For this annual event, called St. Côme en glace, local residents draw up plans for their ice sculptures and submit them to the festival’s organizing committee. Then, after calculating the size of the proposed sculpture, the committee delivers the required blocks of ice, taken from a nearby river, to the front of their houses.


One of many ice sculptures during the festival at St. Côme en glace | Photo courtesy of L’Inventaire des ressources ethnologiques du patrimoine immaterial, (IREPI) Québec

Over the course of the festival—which takes place from late-January to early-February—sculptors work diligently on their masterpieces, so neighbors can see not only the completed sculptures, but also witness the creative process. During this time, the village square boasts an enormous ice slide and holds numerous concerts, firework displays, and ice hockey tournaments. There are even more festival events that take place at the nearby Val St. Côme ski hill.

When I visited the festival on opening night, the excitement was palpable. Traditional Québecois music played while sculptors carved ice with chainsaws, their completed sculptures showcased with bright spotlights. Before whooshing down the giant ice slide, I sampled local Caribou—a Québec specialty that mixes brandy, vodka, sherry and port (no one shared their recipes, though, as they seem to be closely-guarded family secrets).


St-C%C3%B4me-en-glace-cutting-ice-660x495.jpgCutting the ice for the sculptures at St. Côme en glace | Photo courtesy of L’Inventaire des ressources ethnologiques du patrimoine immaterial, (IREPI) Québec



Jane with Bonhomme, the mascot of the Carnival | Photo by Author

Either way, attache ta tuque!

The main lessons from my trip to Québec: (1) Embracing winter makes the long season seem shorter; (2) Don’t be afraid to try new sports (ice canoeing on the St. Lawrence River, anyone? Competing in the World Snowshoe Championships?); and (3) Take the indoors outdoors—build an outdoor ice bar, launch an outdoor dance party, and attache ta tuque!

* Attache ta tuque! is a French Canadian expression, loosely translated as ‘hold onto your hats!’; a tuque is a winter ski hat.

Jane Snyder is a travel writer and environmental & entrepreneurial project manager who writes about local, environmental and active travel, often focusing on travel with children, teens and tweens. For more on winter cities, check out our other recent guest post by Jay Walljasper, How to Keep Cold Weather Cities Cool.


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