Lest you think the US and Europe have the monopoly on Complete Streets, take a look at this Urban Street Design Manual from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. Aside from noting that with enough money from oil and gas production, your planning department can have a pretty snazzy website, I was fascinated by a number of small (but significant) policies that marked this design manual as unique to its city, such as:
|A sikka in Abu Dhabi|
- A whole section devoted to techniques for shading sidewalks
- The use of sikkas (narrow pedestrian pathways found in new and historic neighborhoods)
- An emphasis on creating spaces that allow privacy and security for women
- The incorporation of ablution sinks into the street furniture (and reuse of their water for landscape irrigation)
True complete streets should be designed to take into account the way a particular culture uses its roadways, including spaces and features that will complement the history and demographics of a particular neighborhood. A roadway in a area with an aging population, for instance, might include a particular focus on universal design. Space for street vending or small-scale businesses might be more important in some commercial areas than room for cafe seating. As we move towards more function-driven street design, we should consider not just the generic purpose of a roadway (commercial-serving, residential neighborhood, bicycle corridor), but also the specific desires and needs of its users.