Design Urban Design When It Comes to Our Streets, You Have to Ask the Right Question By Lloyd Alter Design Editor University of Toronto Lloyd Alter is Design Editor for Treehugger and teaches Sustainable Design at Ryerson University in Toronto. our editorial process Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Lloyd Alter Updated September 26, 2019 CC BY 2.0. Mikael Colville-Andersen Share Twitter Pinterest Email Design Tiny Homes Architecture Interior Design Green Design Urban Design Mikael Colville-Andersen of Copenhagenize notes that engineers have been asking the wrong question all these years, "How many cars can we move down the street" rather than "how many people can we move down the street". He prepared this illustration pointing out that if you have a mix of bikes, transit and good pedestrian infrastructure you can move a lot more people. © City of Munster It is a point that has been made before, as in famous City of Munster comparison from 2001 that Mike showed here. © Cycling Promotion Fund Then there is the Australian version. Toronto Transit Commission/Public Domain It was redone by the Toronto Transit Commission in 2009, showing the difference between the space occupied by cars.. Toronto Transit Commission/Public Domain And a streetcar with the same number of people. (see it in GIF form here) But there is a problem with all of these photos and drawings, that John Massengale notes, that streets are more than just transportation corridors. City streets are where public life takes place. Public life is not about "moving" or "throughput," but about placemaking—creating streets where people want to be. On those streets, both cars and people should slow down. That simultaneously saves lives and simplifies good urban design and civic art. Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0 Massengale is right. Streets are for more than just moving people. All of these photos from Munster to Australia to Toronto miss the fact that streets are about urban life as well as transportation.