A street is a public thoroughfare 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 tarmac, 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 informally 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.
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 activity. 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.
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.
These plans were never implemented comprehensively, a fact which today's urban[who] theorists regard as fortunate for vitality and diversity[vague]. 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 malls surrounding 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 in Chicago.
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.
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 lines.
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 or herringbone parking.
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 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 vehicle traffic.
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 accident.
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.
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.
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 have a 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 other restaurants. 59ce067264