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A "Woonerf" that Tells a Story

Redesigning 1 block of a city street for shared use by pedestrians, bicycles, & cars; a green space with public art as an interactive kiosk.

Photo of Dean DeCrease
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A truly livable city has some defining characteristics, namely: a “sense of place” (strong identity), walkable streets, mobility for all, beauty & charm, public green spaces, lively streets where people connect, equity and prosperity.

Our proposal is for a “woonerf” with citizen engagement. A woonerf is designed to allow drivers, cyclists, pedestrians and runners to share the same space, making the street much more welcoming and appealing for all.

Features include barrier plantings, seating, bike racks, curb removal (could be a future improvement), and public art. The street is narrow so that cars must drive slowly, such that pedestrians and cyclists have parity on the road. 

The beauty of this project is that it is a permanent improvement for pedestrians,  bicyclists and neighbors, while showcasing many aspects of livability which will be communicated in an engagement kiosk in the middle of the woonerf:

  • allows cars, but at a very calmed speed (walkable streets)
  • allows for greening the street with trees, plantings (connection with nature)
  • includes public art (beauty & charm)
  • includes benches and gathering points (people connection)
  • becomes a destination (sense of place)


The kiosk will be designed by a local artist and will feature a chalkboard wall, where citizens can express their dreams for the future of Pittsburgh, inspired by the magic around them.

This project will serve as a pilot for refinement and replication of shared street renovations around the city.


Describe your solution's stage of development

  • Initial Design - you are still exploring the idea and have not tested it with users

Tell us about your team or organization (500 characters)

This project is a partnership of Dean DeCrease, Freelance Urbanist, and Peter Quintanilla, Urban Design Studio Lead at Michael Baker International.

Size of your team or organization

  • 2-10

Funding Request

  • $75,000

Describe how you would pilot your idea (1000 characters)

In the pilot phase, curbs would remain and bump-outs would be created using large, movable planters, etc. rather than permanent street renovations. Woonerfs have been implemented around the world and are an increasingly popular approach to pedestrian-forward street design.

Describe how you would measure the success of your pilot (1000 characters)

Success would be measured by (a) engagement level (number of chalkboard entries per day), (b) the number and speed of cars using the woonerf, and (c) pedestrian usage.

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Photo of Nancy Ross
Team

It seems like Smallman Street in the Strip District would be perfect to test this concept in Pittsburgh!

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