Multi-way Boulevards

Boulevards cover

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This is the first pattern for Multi-way Boulevards pattern language. It is excerpted from The Boulevard Book: history, evolution, design of multiway boulevards by Allan B. Jacobs, Elizabeth Macdonald and Yodan Rofe, MIT Press. 2002.


Boulevards have a paradoxical nature. They are at once normal and extraordinary. The uses they accommodate, the buildings that line them and the multi-modal traffic that travels on them are the stuff of everyday normal life. And yet the combination of these elements, and the sheer space and amenities that they provide, make them spectacular, unique and memorable – when they work well.


Boulevards are appropriate when there is a need to carry both through traffic and local traffic, where there is good reason for the through traffic to move faster than the local traffic, and where there is real or potential conflict between the two traffic types.

They are appropriate for streets that, by virture of their size and/or location, can become significant elements in the city. They have a potential to become special places.

Bouelvards are appropriate where there is either a significant volume of pedestrians who need to cross the street or a potential desire to do so. Commercial streets, streets with high residential density, streets that incorporate public transit, or streets with significant presence of public institutions are examples.

In order for multiway boulevards to work and feel safe they have to establish a clear and strong pedestrian realm.

2 Comments to “Multi-way Boulevards”

  1. davidweek

    In Melbourne, we have many boulevards. At the same time, the city is seeking to increase the number of different modes available, especially by adding dedicated bicycle lanes. On many streets, including boulevards, there is no space for an additional bicycle lane. Therefore, the city is deciding to prioritise some streets for trams, some for cars, and others for bicycles.

    I think this strategy is important, because for many cities, the existing street structure is fixed, and it’s not possible to create multi-modal boulevards.

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