Allocating street-space equitably

Streets are more than a footpath and a stretch of bitumen or cobbles. They are integral to our way of life and have different uses at different times for different people. That’s what makes them complex places. Tensions between type of use and different users are sometimes difficult to solve. So how do you allocate street-space equitably and efficiently?

Community consultations are a great help and result in localised solutions. Perhaps this is a good thing. But is there a better way of doing this? Paulo Anciaes thinks there is and sets it out in a conference paper.

A view of the street in Lisbon showing a narrow footpath, street parking and a row of shops with apartments above. Street-space is at a premium.

However, appraisal showed that some redesign options go against technical/design standards or political priorities.

Anciaes proposes a new process for streetspace reallocation using various tools. The tools include option generation, performance indicators and comparison of options. His case study using these tools showed that allocating more space to some street users brought benefit to others. But redesign options are not always compatible with technical standards or political priorities.

Lisbon case study

The process of developing the tools and their application were applied in five European cities. A busy street in Lisbon city centre was the subject of this particular paper. There were high demands for walking, cycling, car and bus movement, plus parking, loading and place activities. And street furniture limited the movement of pedestrians.

The political priorities were for walking and not restricting bus movement. Added to these was the need for social interaction and more greenery. This is all in a street only 22m wide.

The title of the paper is, Streetspace allocation – new tools and methods, with a Lisbon application.


The allocation of space to different uses in busy city streets is a complex and contentious process. Decisions to reallocate streetspace are usually based on public consultation and modelling of a few street redesign options, but results are not compared systematically. In addition, the set of options considered is usually incomplete.

This paper proposes a new process for streetspace reallocation, including option generation (with online and physical tools), estimation of performance indicators (with microsimulation), and comparison of options (with a new appraisal tool). The process was applied to the redesign of a busy street in Lisbon. Several options were generated, all involving reducing the street-space allocated to general motorised traffic.

Microsimulation showed that allocating more space to some street uses also bring benefits to other uses. The option to allocate more space to both bus users and pedestrians does not deteriorate movement by other modes. However, appraisal showed that some redesign options go against technical/design standards or political priorities.

Accessibility Toolbar