A street is a public thoroughfare (usually paved) in a built
environment. It is a public parcel of land adjoining buildings in an
urban context, on which people may freely assemble, interact, and move
about. A street can be as simple as a level patch of dirt, but is more
often paved with a hard, durable surface such as concrete, cobblestone
or brick. Portions may also be smoothed with asphalt, embedded with
rails, or otherwise prepared to accommodate non-pedestrian traffic.
Originally the word "street" simply meant a paved road (Latin: "via
strata"). The word "street" is still sometimes used colloquially as a
synonym for "road", for example in connection with the ancient Watling
Street, but city residents and urban planners draw a crucial modern
distinction: a road's main function is transportation, while streets
facilitate public interaction. Examples of streets include
pedestrian streets, alleys, and city-centre streets too crowded for
road vehicles to pass. Conversely, highways and motorways are types of
roads, but few would refer to them as streets.
2 Role in the built environment
2.1.1 Vehicular traffic
Parking for vehicles
Sidewalk and bicycle traffic
2.2 Vehicular amenities and roadside hardware
3 As distinct from other spaces
5 See also
7 External links
A city-centre street in Frankfurt, Germany.
The Porta Rosa was the main street of Elea, connecting the northern
quarter with the southern quarter. The street is 5 meters wide and has
an incline of 18 % in the steepest part. It is paved with
limestone blocks, griders cut in square blocks, and on one side a
small gutter for the drainage of rain water. The building is dated
during the time of the reorganization of the city during the
Hellenistic age (4th–3rd centuries BC).
The word street has its origins in the Latin strata (meaning "paved
road" - abbreviation from via strata); it is thus related to
stratum and stratification. Ancient Greek stratos means army: Greeks
originally built roads to move their armies.
Old English applied the
Roman roads in Britain
Roman roads in Britain such as Ermine Street, Watling Street,
etc. Later it acquired a dialectical meaning of "straggling village",
which were often laid out on the verges of Roman roads and these
settlements often became named Stretton. In the Middle Ages, a road
was a way people travelled, with street applied specifically to paved
Role in the built environment
Rue Saint-Jacques, a street in Montreal, 1910.
The street is a public easement, one of the few shared between all
sorts of people. As a component of the built environment as ancient as
human habitation, the street sustains a range of activities vital to
civilization. Its roles are as numerous and diverse as its
ever-changing cast of characters.
Streets can be loosely categorized as main streets and side streets.
Main streets are usually broad with a relatively high level of
Commerce and public interaction are more visible on main
streets, and vehicles may use them for longer-distance travel. Side
streets are quieter, often residential in use and character, and may
be used for vehicular parking.
Main article: Traffic
Circulation, or less broadly, transportation, is perhaps a street's
most visible use, and certainly among the most important. The
unrestricted movement of people and goods within a city is essential
to its commerce and vitality, and streets provide the physical space
for this activity.
In the interest of order and efficiency, an effort may be made to
segregate different types of traffic. This is usually done by carving
a road through the middle for motorists, reserving pavements on either
side for pedestrians; other arrangements allow for streetcars,
trolleys, and even wastewater and rainfall runoff ditches (common in
Japan and India). In the mid-20th century, as the automobile
threatened to overwhelm city streets with pollution and ghastly
accidents, many urban theorists came to see this segregation as not
only helpful but necessary in order to maintain mobility.
Le Corbusier, for one, perceived an ever-stricter segregation of
traffic as an essential affirmation of social order—a desirable, and
ultimately inevitable, expression of modernity. To this end, proposals
were advanced to build "vertical streets" where road vehicles,
pedestrians, and trains would each occupy their own levels. Such an
arrangement, it was said, would allow for even denser development in
These plans were never implemented comprehensively, a fact which
today's urban theorists regard as fortunate for vitality and
diversity. Rather, vertical segregation is applied on a piecemeal
basis, as in sewers, utility poles, depressed highways, elevated
railways, common utility ducts, the extensive complex of underground
Tokyo Station and the
Ōtemachi subway station, the
elevated pedestrian skyway networks of
Minneapolis and Calgary, the
underground cities of
Atlanta and Montreal, and the multilevel streets
Transportation is often misunderstood to be the defining
characteristic, or even the sole purpose, of a street. This has not
been the case since the word "street" came to be limited to urban
situations, and even in the automobile age, is still demonstrably
false. A street may be temporarily blocked to all through traffic in
order to secure the space for other uses, such as a street fair, a
flea market, children at play, filming a movie, or construction work.
Many streets are bracketed by bollards or Jersey barriers so as to
keep out vehicles. These measures are often taken in a city's busiest
areas, the "destination" districts, when the volume of activity
outgrows the capacity of private passenger vehicles to support it. A
feature universal to all streets is a human-scale design that gives
its users the space and security to feel engaged in their
surroundings, whatever through traffic may pass.
Main article: Traffic
See also: Carriageway
A street full of vehicles in Shanghai
Street in Kobe, Hyogo, Japan.
An empty street in Misasa, Tottori, Japan.
Despite this, the operator of a motor vehicle may (incompletely)
regard a street as merely a thoroughfare for vehicular travel or
parking. As far as concerns the driver, a street can be one-way or
two-way: vehicles on one-way streets may travel in only one direction,
while those on two-way streets may travel both ways. One way streets
typically have signs reading "ONE WAY" and an arrow showing the
direction of allowed travel. Most two-way streets are wide enough for
at least two lanes of traffic.
Which lane is for which direction of traffic depends on what country
the street is located in. On broader two-way streets, there is often a
centre line marked down the middle of the street separating those
lanes on which vehicular traffic goes in one direction from other
lanes in which traffic goes in the opposite direction. Occasionally,
there may be a median strip separating lanes of opposing traffic. If
there is more than one lane going in one direction on a main street,
these lanes may be separated by intermittent lane lines, marked on the
street pavement. Side streets often do not have centre lines or lane
Parking for vehicles
Main article: Parking
Many streets, especially side streets in residential areas, have an
extra lane's width on one or both sides for parallel parking. Most
minor side streets allowing free parallel parking do not have pavement
markings designating the parking lane. Main streets more often have
parking lanes marked. Some streets are too busy or narrow for parking
on the side. Sometimes parking on the sides of streets is allowed only
at certain times. Curbside signs often state regulations about
parking. Some streets, particularly in business areas, may have
parking meters into which coins must be paid to allow parking in the
adjacent space for a limited time. Other parking meters work on a
credit card and ticket basis or pay and display.
Parking lane markings
on the pavement may designate the meter corresponding to a parking
space. Some wide streets with light traffic allow angle parking.
Sidewalk and bicycle traffic
Sidewalks (US usage) or pavements (UK usage) are often located
alongside on one or usually both sides of the street within the public
land strips beyond the curbs. Sidewalks serve a traffic purpose, by
making walking easier and more attractive, but they also serve a
social function, allowing neighbors to meet and interact on their
walks. They also can foster economic activity, such as window shopping
and sidewalk cafes. Some studies have found that shops on streets with
sidewalks get more customers than similar shops without sidewalks.
An important element of sidewalk design is accessibility for persons
with disabilities. Features that make sidewalks more accessible
include curb ramps, tactile paving and accessible traffic signals. The
Americans with Disabilities Act
Americans with Disabilities Act requires accessibility improvement on
new and reconstructed streets within the US.
In most jurisdictions, bicycles are legally allowed to use streets,
and required to follow the same traffic laws as motor vehicle traffic.
Where the volume of bicycle traffic warrants and available
right-of-way allows, provisions may be made to separate cyclists from
motor vehicle traffic. Wider lanes may be provided next to the curb,
or shoulders may be provided.
Bicycle lanes may be used on busy
streets to provide some separation between bicycle traffic and motor
The bicycle lane may be placed between the travel lanes and the
parking lanes, between the parking lanes and the curb, or for
increased safety for cyclists, between curb and sidewalk. These poorer
designs can lead to
Dooring incidents and are unsafe for cycling.
A more sensible design is found in the
Netherlands with a Protected
Bicycle Path totally separate from the traffic which is safe for
Safe from traffic for cycling along a fully segregated Fietspad,
properly designed cycling infrastructure in Amsterdam.
Trams are generally considered to be environmentally friendly with
tramlines running in streets with a combination of tram lanes or
separate alignments are used, sometimes on a segregated right of
way. Signalling and effective braking reduce the risk of a tram
Vehicular amenities and roadside hardware
A suburban street in Amman, Jordan.
Often, a curb (British English: Kerb) is used to separate the vehicle
traffic lanes from the adjacent pavement area and where people on
bicycles are considered properly are used to separate cycling from
traffic as well.
Street signs, parking meters, bicycle stands,
benches, traffic signals, and street lights are often found adjacent
to streets. They may be behind the sidewalk, or between the sidewalk
and the curb.
There may be a road verge (a strip of grass or other vegetation)
between the carriageway (North American English: Roadway) and the
pavement on either side of the street on which
Grass or trees are
often grown there for landscaping. These are often placed for
beautification, but are increasingly being used to control stormwater.
Although primarily used for traffic, streets are important corridors
for utilities such as electric power; communications such as
telephone, cable television and fiber optic lines; storm and sanitary
sewers; and natural gas lines.
Amsterdam with a tram, Fietspad and pavement.
Practically all public streets in Western countries and the majority
elsewhere (though not in Japan; see Japanese addressing system) are
given a street or road name, or at least a number, to identify them
and any addresses located along the streets. Alleys, in some places,
do not have names. The length of a lot of land along a street is
referred to as the frontage of the lot.
Pedestrians walking along Elfreth's Alley, Philadelphia
A street may assume the role of a town square for its regulars. Jane
Jacobs, an economist and prominent urbanist, wrote extensively on the
ways that interaction among the people who live and work on a
particular street—"eyes on the street"—can reduce crime, encourage
the exchange of ideas, and generally make the world a better place.
A street can often serve as the catalyst for the neighborhood's
prosperity, culture and solidarity. New Orleans’
Bourbon Street is
famous not only for its active nightlife but also for its role as the
center of the city's French Quarter. Similarly, the
Bowery has at
various times been New York City's theater district, red-light
district, skid row, restaurant supply district, and the center of the
nation's underground punk scene.
Madison Avenue and
Fleet Street are
so strongly identified with their respective most famous types of
commerce, that their names are sometimes applied to firms located
elsewhere. Other streets mark divisions between neighborhoods of a
city. For example,
Yonge Street divides
Toronto into east and west
East Capitol Street
East Capitol Street divides
Washington, D.C. into north and
Some streets are associated with the beautification of a town or city.
Greenwood, Mississippi's Grand
Boulevard was once named one of
America's ten most beautiful streets by the U.S. Chambers of Commerce
and the Garden Clubs of America. The 1,000 oak trees lining Grand
Boulevard were planted in 1916 by Sally Humphreys Gwin, a charter
member of the Greenwood Garden Club. In 1950, Gwin received a citation
from the National Congress of the Daughters of the American Revolution
in recognition of her work in the conservation of trees.
Streets also tend to aggregate establishments of similar nature and
character. East 9th
Street in Manhattan, for example, offers a cluster
of Japanese restaurants, clothing stores, and cultural venues. In
Washington, D.C., 17th
Street and P
Street are well known as
epicenters of the city's (relatively small) gay culture. Many cities
Radio Row or
Restaurant Row. Like in
Philadelphia there is a
small street called Jewelers' row giving the identity of a "Diamond
district". This phenomenon is the subject of urban location theory in
economics. In Cleveland, Ohio, East 4th
Street has become restaurant
row for Cleveland. On East 4th is Michael Symon's Lola Bistro and
As distinct from other spaces
Centre Ville, Beirut, Lebanon
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A road, like a street, is often paved and used for travel. However, a
street is characterized by the degree and quality of street life it
facilitates, whereas a road serves primarily as a through passage for
road vehicles or (less frequently) pedestrians. Buskers, beggars,
boulevardiers, patrons of pavement cafés, peoplewatchers,
streetwalkers, and a diversity of other characters are habitual users
of a street; the same people would not typically be found on a road.
In rural and suburban environments where street life is rare, the
terms "street" and "road" are frequently considered interchangeable.
Still, even here, what is called a "street" is usually a smaller
thoroughfare, such as a road within a housing development feeding
directly into individual driveways. In the last half of the 20th
century these streets often abandoned the tradition of a rigid,
rectangular grid, and instead were designed to discourage through
traffic. This and other traffic calming methods provided quiet for
families and play space for children. Adolescent suburbanites find, in
attenuated form, the amenities of street life in shopping malls where
vehicles are forbidden.
A town square or plaza is a little more like a street, but a town
square is rarely paved with asphalt and may not make any concessions
for through traffic at all.
Street or road name
Nevsky Prospekt, is the main street in the city of St. Petersburg,
Hurontario St. in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, is commonly referred
to by its former highway number
An avenue in São Paulo.
There is a haphazard relationship, at best, between a thoroughfare's
function and its name. For example, London's Abbey
Road serves all the
vital functions of a street, despite its name, and locals are more apt
to refer to the "street" outside than the "road". A desolate road in
rural Montana, on the other hand, may bear a sign proclaiming it
"Davidson Street", but this does not make it a "street" except in the
original sense of a paved road.
United Kingdom many towns will refer to their main thoroughfare
High Street (in the
United States and
Canada it would be called
the Main Street—however, occasionally "Main Street" in a city or
town is a street other than the de facto main thoroughfare), and many
of the ways leading off it will be named "Road" despite the urban
setting. Thus the town's so-called "Roads" will actually be more
street like than a road.
Some streets may even be called highways. For example, Hurontario
Street in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, is commonly referred to as
Highway 10"—even though such a highway designation no longer
officially exists through the city. This is probably because the
street is a modern suburban arterial that was urbanized after decades
of having the status and function a true highway, so people continue
to use the number from force of habit.
In some other English-speaking countries, such as Australia and New
Zealand, cities are often divided by a main "Road", with "Streets"
leading from this "Road", or the cities are divided by thoroughfares
known as "Streets" or "Roads" with no apparent differentiation between
the two. In Auckland, for example, the main shopping precinct is
located around Queen
Street and Karangahape Road.
Streets have existed for as long as humans have lived in permanent
settlements (see civilization). However, modern civilization in much
of the New World developed around transportation provided by motor
vehicles. In some parts of the English-speaking world, such as North
America, many think of the street as a thoroughfare for vehicular
traffic first and foremost. In this view, pedestrian traffic is
incidental to the street's purpose; a street consists of a
thoroughfare running through the middle (in essence, a road), and may
or may not have pavements (i.e., sidewalks) along the sides.
In an even narrower sense, some may think of a street as only the
vehicle-driven and parking part of the thoroughfare. Thus, sidewalks
(pavements) and road verges would not be thought of as part of the
street. A mother may tell her toddlers, "Don't go out into the street,
so you don't get hit by a car."
Among urban residents of the English-speaking world, the word "street"
appears to carry its original connotations (i.e., the facilitation of
traffic as a prime purpose, and "street life" as an incidental
benefit). For instance, a New York Times writer lets casually slip the
observation that automobile-laden Houston Street, in lower Manhattan,
is "a street that can hardly be called 'street' anymore, transformed
years ago into an eight-lane raceway that alternately resembles a
Nascar event and a parking lot." Published in the paper's Metro
section, the article evidently presumes an audience with an innate
grasp of the modern urban role of the street. To the readers of the
Metro section, vehicular traffic does not reinforce, but rather
detracts from, the essential "street-ness" of a street.
At least one map has been made to illustrate the geography of naming
conventions for thoroughfares; avenue, boulevard, circle, road,
street, and other suffixes are compared and contrasted.
Happy street, alternatively called open street or fun street, are open
to all public celebrations organised in many European and Indian
cities; mostly on some Sunday or some other specific day, initiative
encourages people to use non-motorised transport and to come out onto
the streets to socialize every Sunday morning through a wide array of
activities; Where in families and people of all ages can simply get
out in the middle of the street to walk, run, jog, dance, bicycle,
sing, skate or play.
According to Sandeep Nanduri, the Corporation Commissioner of Madurai,
“The idea is to socialise comfortably and safely with elements of
entertainment thrown in. The aim is to keep all vehicles out and allow
the public in.” 
Street comes to different areas on the some specific Sunday of
Several cities across
India including Kolkata, Pune, Thane,
Ahmedabad, Madurai, BengloreVisakhapatnam have been
successfully implementing it while places like Chennai and Coimbatore
have introduced car-free Sundays.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Street.
Lane; Green lane (road)
Manual for Streets (in the UK)
Spreuerhofstraße (Narrowest street in the World)
Pedestrian street, Auto-free zone
This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain
unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. Please help to
improve this article by introducing more precise citations. (April
2009) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Street at Using English forum.
^ Avenue vs
Street at Using English forum.
^ History of English, Jonathan Culpeper, Routledge 1997, p. 2
^ "Online Etymology". Retrieved 2006-11-14.
^ "Economic Revitalization". Retrieved 2011-07-15.
Tram – Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster
Dictionary". merriam-webster.com. Archived from the original on 9
^ Delta Democrat-Times, November 26, 1956.
^ Kirkpatrick, Mario Carter. Mississippi Off the Beaten Path. GPP
^ New York Times article(registration required)
^ Bill Rankin (2005). "Vancouver Roads". radicalcartography. Retrieved
^ a b c "Happy Street: Latest News, Videos and Photos - Times of
India". The Times of India. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
^ a b c d Basu, Soma (31 March 2017). "Happiness on the street".
Retrieved 23 December 2017 – via www.thehindu.com.
^ "One woman's simple recipe for a happy street". BBC News. Retrieved
23 December 2017.
^ https://www.facebook.com/Millennium-Post-1121157364607635/. "Elgin
Road to take on the garb of 'Fun Street' on Christmas eve".
millenniumpost.in. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
A virtual exhibition on the history of streets
AskOxford: What is the difference between a 'street' and a 'road'?
streetnote, street music Live street music and musicians from the
streets of the USA
 Biannual exhibition of poetry and documentary about streets and
Streetsblog – News focusing on streets and street life in the
modern urban landscape. (No affiliation.)
What distinguishes a street from a lane from a road from a boulevard,
etc.? – An Ask Yahoo! editor's examination of the issue.
A Treatise on
Highway Construction, Designed as a Text-book and Work
of Reference for All who May be Engaged in the Location, Construction,
Or Maintenance of Roads, Streets, and Pavements, By Austin Thomas
Byrne, 1900 – Boston appears to be the first city in the United
States to pave its streets, by 1663, many with pebbles.
Streets and roadways
Types of road
Freeway / Motorway
Dual carriageway / Divided highway / Expressway
Highway systems by country
Hierarchy of roads
Single-point urban (SPUI)
Diamond grinding of pavement
Full depth recycling
Dead Man's Curve
Space and time allocation
Barrier transfer machine
Contraflow lane reversal
High-occupancy toll lane
High-occupancy vehicle lane
Median / Central reservation
Runaway truck ramp
Sidewalk / Pavement
Street running railway
Traffic signal preemption
Wide outside lane
Cat's eye (road)
Concrete step barrier
Raised pavement marker
Road surface marking
Overpass / Flyover
Underpass / Tunnel
Glossary of road transport terms