Most streets can be divided into two parts: the sidewalk/boulevard and the roadway. Pedestrian activity occurs within the sidewalk zone. The roadway portion is divided into vehicular lanes, cycle lanes, and parking lanes, and is used by cyclists, motor vehicles and public transit. On some roadways, traffic is divided by a central median or a transit priority right-of-way. While the Manual does provide some direction for streetscape elements found within the roadway (e.g. medians), the majority of design treatments focus on the sidewalk zone.

Sidewalk Zone

One of the first decisions to make when designing a streetscape is to determine the appropriate width and organization of the sidewalk zone.

The sidewalk zone must be designed to provide safe, efficient and accessible pedestrian movement, as well as balance the many competing demands for limited space (e.g. tree planting, furniture placement, utilities, signage, business activity, etc.).

The Manual organizes sidewalk space into four functional zones:

The Edge Zone is immediately adjacent to the roadway, the Edge Zone provides clearance between the traveled portion of the road or parked vehicles and other sidewalk functions. This zone provides a safety buffer against door swings, mirrors, etc., and possibly can accommodate sign and utility posts, garbage set out and snow windrow storage. The Edge Zone should be a minimum of 0.46 metres wide, including the width of curb.

The Furnishing and Planting Zone, which is adjacent to the Edge Zone, may contain street furniture, sidewalk cafes, trees and other fixed objects, and may be characterized by decorative paving features. Coordinated alignment of such services within this zone is desirable, and these features should be placed in a manner that does not obstruct the Pedestrian Clearway. This zone provides an important comfort buffer between pedestrian and vehicular traffic.

The Furnishing and Planting Zone may typically vary between 1.0 and 2.2 metres wide, depending on available space. To accommodate tree planting in the Furnishing and Planting Zone, the preferred minimum width is 1.8 metres, and must be no less than 1.2 metres. If the Furnishing and Planting Zone is less than 1.0 metre, consider placing furniture in an alternate location.

Street Furniture Placement

The proper placement of Street Furniture in the public right-of-way is important to ensure that the streetscape is organized, functional for all users, and aesthetically pleasing. The Pedestrian Clearway must be kept free of obstructions, yet have easy access to furnishings for safety, comfort and amenity. Furniture elements must also be placed at least 460mm away from the curb face to limit conflicts with roadway activities.  Refer to the Vibrant Streets Guidelines for more placement details.  Contact program staff in the Coordinated Street Furniture Program for procurement and placement assistance for Coordinated Street Furniture elements.

The Pedestrian Clearway accommodates pedestrian movement; a clear, unobstructed continuous linear path of sidewalk with an appropriate width to serve pedestrian flow. Provision of this zone is a high priority. The width of the Pedestrian Clearway should be determined prior to the width of the Furnishing and Planting Zone, to ensure it supports the existing and projected volume of pedestrian traffic. The minimum width of the Pedestrian Clearway is 2.1 metres, unless this cannot be accommodated within the sidewalk width, in which case consideration may be given to reducing it to no less than 1.53 metres.

The Frontage and Marketing Zone is adjacent to the building/property line that buffers pedestrians from windows, doorways, and other building appurtenances. This zone may consist of marketing, outdoor merchandise displays, boulevard cafes and/or landscaping, and in some cases may support street furniture.

While Main Streets sidewalks typically have all four zones, the arrangement of Green Streets is slightly different. As Green Streets often have open spaces nearby and a residential component, typically there is no Frontage and Marketing Zone. Instead, the Furnishing and Planting Zone can be on either side of the Pedestrian Clearway (depending on the space available).

The width of the Frontage and Marketing Zone varies, depending on the building set back and location of the property line. If street furniture is to be placed within the Frontage and Marketing Zone, it must have a minimum width of 1.0 metre.