All around the world, cities are re-imagining their laneways.
Vibrant Laneways Program - Brisbane, Australia
Brisbane’s Vibrant Laneways Program, was created in 2006 as part of the city's City Centre Master Plan, to transform the city centre's laneways into outdoor art galleries where people can meet, relax, shop, and dine. Liquor license policy changes to support the establishment of small bars, the installation of temporary and permanent artwork and lighting, seating, and paving improvements all contributed to the emerging laneway culture in Brisbane.
Alley Improvements - Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles has seen a range of alley improvement projects in both commercial and residential alleys since the early 2000s. Funding sources, collaborators, approaches, and aims vary from project to project, but many of them strive to address problems of stormwater management, trash dumping, and shortage of park space, especially in lower-income neighbourhoods. Projects span across the city, from 20 alleys in Boyle Heights, a working-class neighbourhood east of downtown, to a previously gated, now bustling commercial alley in Hollywood, to the in-progress Green Alley Network in park-deficient South LA.
Baltimore, Maryland - Green, Blue and Gated Alleys
Baltimore’s Alley Gating and Greening Program began as a response to theft, drug use, and dumping in residential alleyways. While there are issues with access and exclusion, gated alleys have seen reductions in crime and increased safety, cleanliness, resident activity, and sense of community. The Blue Alleys program focuses on installing permeable pavers to filter and store stormwater and the Alley Makeover Program has brought communities together to clean up trash and create artwork within 18 alleys in six neighbourhoods, helping to reduce the pollutants that flow through drains into Baltimore Harbor.
Ruelles Vertes/Green Alley Program - Montreal, Canada
Since is started in 1997, this program has supported the greening of 300 of the city’s alleys. The focus is on turning residential alleyways into greener, more attractive spaces through planting vegetation, replacing asphalt with porous pavers or plant beds, and measures to calm or restrict automobile traffic. Residents can “adopt” flowerbeds and “Ruelle Verte” signs are placed on officially recognized alleys. District-based environmental offices called Eco-Quartiers provide guidance and funding, residents are responsible for forming a committee, obtaining support from neighbours, and maintaining the lane after the changes are made.
Perth, Australia - Laneway Revitalization Strategy
The City of Perth on Australia’s western coast has been active in animating a number of its laneways. In 2008, the City adopted the Forgotten Spaces: Revitalizing Perth’s Laneways Strategy. The strategy has a number of objectives:
- Promote laneways as public space
- Improve connectivity
- Increase the diversity of businesses and activities
- Create more affordable commercial space
- Build strong partnerships to help remain competitive with the City’s suburbs
Melbourne, Australia - Love Your Laneway
Melbourne’s laneway revitalization efforts date back to the 1980s, when the City set a goal to draw residents and businesses back to a neglected city centre. Starting with policies to encourage the opening of small-scale laneway-facing businesses and permit street art and murals, by the 2000s the City was commissioning artwork and holding festivals in its laneways on an annual basis. The Love Your Laneway program selects a number of laneways every year for infrastructure improvements, beautification and cultural activities. Since 2008, the program has transformed 24 laneways, and Melbourne is now internationally renowned for its laneway culture. In 2016, the City launched the Green Your Laneway program, focused on adding vegetation and seating, to further enhance its laneway network.
Seattle - Clear Alleys
The Clear Alleys Program aims to improve laneway attractiveness, access and reduce illegal activity in laneways. Adopted in 2009, the program focuses on reducing waste containers in the public right-of–way. In one area they have implemented a rules where garbage and recycling containers can only be placed in public alleyways for restricted time periods.
Chicago - Green Alley Program
The City of Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) initially implemented the Green Alley Program as a pilot project. Its focus was on using green infrastructure to improve their storm water retention and contribute to other sustainability measures. This included:
- Re-grading of the lanes to improve drainage
- Installing permeable paving
- Using reflective paving colours to reduce the heat-island effect
- Incorporating recycled materials into the design
- Using new lighting fixtures that reduce light pollution
Hundreds of alleys have been transformed and the program has received world-wide recognition, acting as a source of inspiration for other laneway greening initiates around the world.