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More and more people live in cities. Streets, boulevards, corridors, alleys, and thoroughfares are different types of streets. Streets often make up 20@ of a city or town’s public space. Streets move people and goods around a city. Are they more for vehicles than people?

Green Streets shift existing streets from moving cars and trucks to welcoming places for people of all ages. Green Streets change urban concrete jungles to locations in the city that offset the heat island effect with trees, filter and manage stormwater with planted areas, offer diverse seats, safe street life, and alternative travel via bikes and public transit.

Green streets are streets made for people, bicycles, public transportation, and nature. Green street design affects the health of the air and water in a city, the safety and health of the citizens, and the social equity and stability of daily life.

Activity 1 – Street Crossings

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Street intersections are corners where people, bicycles, motorcycles, automobiles, trucks, and buses come together. The higher the volume of vehicular traffic, the higher the need for designated pedestrian crossings. Intersections sonically and physically communicate where and when people need to crosswalks and where. Raised or painted areas denote traffic calming mid-crossing safe stations. Planted medians offer vegetative and shaded halfway stops. Look at NACTO’s Urban Street Design Guide to Intersection Design for several layers of design elements. Find an intersection in your city and propose people-friendly safe crossing areas—label key features.

Activity 2 – Streets for Kids

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Children make up almost one-third of the world’s population. Yet the majority of streets are designed with wide lanes of traffic and little room for young humans. For most youth, roads are dangerous. Yet streets are how children navigate neighborhoods, meet friends, go to school, and experience their city. Imagine streets with, and for, children. Roads of all types need to be quieter for caregivers, parents, and grandparents. Roads need materials that absorb and deflect sounds; they need the quiet and cleanliness of electric cars and the filter, shelter, and shade of trees absorbing loud sounds. Providing protected places for children to sit, eat, and play safely alongside streets can be buffered with raised plantings and trees. Boulevards that connect to schools and playgrounds offering different age options are key. Streets for children offer clean places to sit with caregivers, parents, grandparents, and other children. Choose a neighborhood road and list the crossing dangers. Then add 3-5 new safety improvements for fun, social interaction, safety, and nature, on an aerial photograph of a street in your neighborhood.

Activity 3 – Research Green Streets in Your City

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Now that you are becoming a Green Street advocate, take a look around your neighborhood or city. Are there streets that have bike lanes? Are intersections marked for pedestrian crossings? Are there planted medians? Do the streets in your city have trees? Are there planted bioswales buffering people from the traffic. Take pictures of Green Streets in your city and post them to the Green Street Gallery!

Activity 4 – Make Room for Nature

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Safe streets that promote a healthy quality of life have trees. Trees are home to the biodiversity of nonhuman and human life and offer shade, moments of privacy, and places to gather and collect. Indigenous plantings along streets improve habitat for the biodiversity of life landscapes while managing stormwater, protecting pedestrians from the direct bike and vehicular traffic, and protecting pedestrians with a calm zone between the street and the buildings where people live, work, and learn, buy, and play. Draw a section through a busy street and show bioswales, treed and planted mediums, plant buffers, and trees; don’t forget to offer seating and bike rental/return.

Activity 5 – Neighborhood Street Redesign

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Neighborhood streets often are only made for cars, forcing people to walk their dogs in the street. Marking walking and bike lanes on the road encourage people to walk and bike. An even better solution is to construct a sidewalk with a landscaped green parkway between the sidewalk and the street. Planting trees in the parkway protects people from cars and cools the road. Take a look at some before and after pictures of the firm URB-I for inspiration! Another resource is Project for Public Space Streets for People Case Studies like this one in New York City, helping children get safely to and from neighborhood schools and allowing people of all ages to gather outdoors. Using Google Maps, find a neighborhood street to improve for people of all ages. Using photographs or sketches, draw a before and after view of a street in your neighborhood.

Activity 6 – Downtown Street Redesign

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Streets downtown have more people and cars than most residential thoroughfares. Review STREETS. Prioritize safety and protection of people by adding improvements. Start with clearly marked intersections, add planted buffers, and create a crossing median, bike lanes, a bus lane, and car lanes. Organize the movement of the street to keep people safe. Draw a plan and cross-section of suggested improvements to the thoroughfare


  • What are the benefits of having Green Streets?
  • Green street design affects the traffic efficiency and increases dangerous blindspots from the tall-grown plants.
  • Since roads are potentially dangerous for youths, areas populated with children should:
  • \How do green streets improve the quality of the environment?
  • In a neighborhood, what benefits can green street designs bring to people of all ages?
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