Living Streets

Principles for the Living Street of Tomorrow


Today, our streets must change to accommodate a new era of mobility and urban design. With mounting pressure on our public realm to serve growing numbers of residents and mediate growing social distances, a new paradigm is needed to reconnect people and reimagine urban space. For over a century, our streets have been dominated by a single form of transportation, namely the car. Car companies have influenced the street since their inception. By creating a market demand for private automobiles, combined with policymaking in support of private auto-mobility, car companies have shaped cultural norms and design principles that still influence streets today.

With a new perspective on mobility must come a new set of design principles for street stewardship, street design, and mobility creation. Ford created the National Street Service to ensure that new technologies and services it creates help carry streets forward to a future that puts people at the center of this vital public space. Ford hopes that these design principles can become a touchstone for all people building the streets of the future.

New mobility technologies, created with people at the center, can help us share our streets in new ways, more equitably, providing more access, for more people, to everything our cities have to offer.
— Jim Hackett, CEO, Ford
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How we define 'streets'


What do we mean when we say streets? Technically, we mean surface-level throughways in the public domain. Experientially, we mean the places just outside our doors, between us and everything else, the interstitial land of the city. The space between the buildings. Highways that are purely thoroughfares to get from A to B are not streets, and while perhaps they could be, these principles may not apply to them.


How these principles were made


These principles were developed from 18 months of intensive action-research conducted by the National Street Service with input from over 100 participants across five cities, and Gehl’s decades of experience studying public life and making cities for people. The principles were extracted from our key insights, which can be found in our Field Guide. You can experience these principles in action by completing the National Street Service ‘Soul Searching’ curriculum, which is free and publicly available as a printable training kit on our website, and as an app - ‘Streets!' for iPhone.


How to use these principles


These principles are for anyone who wants to make streets, mobility, or a stewardship process with people at the center. By sharing our guiding methodologies, values, and quality criteria we hope to provide a cogent vision that guides the efforts of Ford Motor Company - and others - to build services, policies and products that help streets live up to the value and potential they possess.



Who is the National Street Service


About a hundred years ago, streets were redesigned with rules that privileged the fast movement and storage of private vehicles. Today, American cities face challenges with congestion, growth and imminent technological change in their transportation systems. In the context of this growth and change, the way we’ve been designing and managing our streets is no longer working. We have a rare and historic moment to rewrite those rules, to create newly human-centered streets that privilege great places and the movement of people not vehicles. In search of a meaningful way to foster conversations about the potential of America’s streets, Greenfield Labs, in collaboration with globally renowned urban design firm Gehl, created the National Street Service.


Founding Partners of the National Street Service

Greenfield Labs



To learn more, contact Ryan Westrom at Greenfield Labs or Anna Muessig at Gehl.

My vision for streets in America is that they become more than roads and more than parks.
— COLE BRENNAN, National Street Service Participant and Researcher
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