Book Review

Transit Street Design Guide

National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO)

This very comprehensive design guide focuses entirely on streets used by public transport, and is a fine compendium of solutions and rationales. It is one of a suite of four street design guides produced by NACTO . All except one can be viewed via the NACTO website. The hardback printed version, however, is a worthy addition to any collection, being well produced with numerous colour illustrations.

Detailed issues and design considerations are set out in a logical way, with succinct summaries for every topic. Through the use of numerous photos, drawings and diagrams, it deals with numerous design issues, and demonstrates how public transport can make a positive contribution to the life and quality of streets.

The guide is produced from an American perspective, and tends to follow the assumption that transit operates mostly in high density urban areas, where the multiplicity of street functions are most intense, and where transit has the biggest contribution to make. Because of this perhaps, the examples and illustrations are dominated by downtown street configurations. Although these may not resonate so much with a British audience, the huge range of design issues are important in any context, for example how to deal with cycle lanes at bus stops, and where to locate stops to avoid conflict with other traffic. It deals with all street transit modes, buses, bus rapid transit (BRT) and trams/ light rail.

The guide is well set out and very easy to dip into when tackling a particular design issue. The different sections have a standard set of headings, beginning with context or application, followed by design elements set out according to whether they are critical, recommended, or optional. Likewise, where dimensions are under discussion (lane widths, footway widths, etc.) minimum, recommended and maximum dimensions are given. The main sections are Transit Streets, Stations and Stops, Transit (bus priority) lanes and ways, and Intersections. A final section discusses public transport strategies.

This is a valuable resource for street designers, who often pay little attention to the accommodation of public transport. The guide is clearly written from a transport and traffic perspective, setting out street infrastructure requirements, and is somewhat light on the issue of visual impact of this infrastructure on the urban environment.

URBAN DESIGN 143 Summer 2017 Publication Urban Design Group

As featured in URBAN DESIGN 143 Summer 2017

Want to read more like this? If you're not already an Urban Design Group member, why don't you consider joining?

Transit Street Design Guide Publication Urban Design Group
Island Press
Reviewed By
Tim Pharoah, independent transport planner and urban designer