Pedestrian Streets/Malls

A pedestrian street or mall as discussed in this section is defined as one that essentially prohibits motor vehicle traffic, aside from emergency access and time-limited essential activities such as trash pick up and service deliveries. This is different from a shared street or space, which allows motor vehicles to travel at low speeds.

There are three types of pedestrian streets/malls:

  1. Those that eliminate motor vehicle traffic (deliveries permitted during off-peak hours)
  2. Those that allow some motor vehicle traffic at very low speeds
  3. Those that close the street during certain times (e.g. Saturday Farmer's Market, evening closures etc.)

The second type can be thought of as a pedestrian street that allows some motor vehicles, as opposed to a motor vehicle street that allows some pedestrians.

Pedestrian streets have been successful in places that are thriving and have high volumes of pedestrians. Examples of successful pedestrian streets include Church Street in Burlington, VT; Downtown Crossing in Boston, MA; Maiden Lane in San Francisco, CA; Occidental Street in Seattle, WA; Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, CA; and, Fremont Street in Las Vegas, NV.


  • Create a significant public space in a downtown district, a tourist district, or a special events or marketplace area
  • Enhance the experience for people in a commercial district


  • Pedestrian streets (those that eliminate motor vehicles) created with the notion of attracting people in areas that are on the decline have usually been unsuccessful.
  • The pedestrian environment can often be enhanced through other measures, including street narrowing/sidewalk widening and the addition of landscaping.

Estimated cost

A pedestrian street can be created simply by blocking either end of an existing street with nothing more than a few signs. Temporary pedestrian streets can be created for weekends or holidays. If the street is going to be a permanent public space, care should be taken in the design. Depending on the extent of the treatment (one block or several blocks) and the quality of the materials used, a true pedestrian street can cost from $100,000 to several million dollars.