Town Center Design and On-Street Parking

By Dom Nozzi

In a healthy town center, there are three design imperatives:

  1. Pedestrians.
  2. Low speeds.
  3. Modest dimensions for streets, destination distances and building setbacks.

In town centers, in nearly all cases, residential single-family, residential multi-family, commercial and civic uses should all have on-street parking.

Why? Because one of the most effective, low-cost ways to achieve the above three design imperatives is to provide as much on-street parking in a town center as possible, for all land use categories.

As one moves out of the town center, design starts incrementally changing.

In the first few rings outside of the town center, transit and bicycling become the imperative. Speeds increase and dimensions, the distances, and the building setbacks are larger. Bike lanes become more appropriate and on-street parking becomes less appropriate.

In the more drivable outer suburban rings, cars become the design imperative. Speeds are relatively high, as are sizes. On-street parking is largely non-existent, and bike lanes become rather important and appropriate.


Visit my urban design website read more about what I have to say on those topics. You can also schedule me to give a speech in your community about transportation and congestion, land use development and sprawl, and improving quality of life.


Or email me at: dom[AT]

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Filed under Bicycling, Urban Design

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