National Street Service

Project information
Nationwide, USA
Greenfield Labs/Ford Motor Company

What if we saw streets as places for people, as treasured and valuable as national parks

Anna Muessig
Team Director at Gehl
Societal Challenge

It’s more than rush hour

Streets make up 30% of a city’s built environment. In the U.S. 250 million passenger vehicles result in crowded and uninviting roadways. As a result, cities have become congested, unsafe, and time spent in public spaces has become increasingly inhospitable.

There is an urgent need to rethink our streets and transportation systems as the rate of traffic, CO2 emissions, and roadway injuries increases with each year.

Client Challenge

Going beyond the private automotive era

Recognizing the societal and industrial shift underway, Ford’s aim is to meet this shift by becoming a broad-ranging transportation company; one that seeks to go beyond corporate responsibility, and understand how to meet people’s day to day mobility needs.

The People

A place where we can learn and innovate by putting the human first—and it represents the opportunity for Ford to continue its place at the center of mobility leadership.

Jim Hackett
The Impact

A new paradigm for city streets

Gehl was asked by Greenfield Labs, a mobility research arm of Ford Motor Company, to help create a vision for the future of our streets. The National Street Service aims to celebrate, educate, and steward our country’s public streets. The NSS began with deep ethnographic research, conducted by Greenfield Labs, focused on what people think the street is for.

By focusing on Shared Values, Empathy, and Inclusive Participation, the team tested hypotheses about how to transform individual beliefs about what the street is for, into engaging tools that would help to create lasting change.

Gehl and Greenfield Labs created the NSS with communities to create accessible, engaging tools to empower people through participation and action.

Gehl conceived and created tools and materials for the “Soul Searching” curriculum – a program designed for Street Rangers to get to know their streets better, improve their streets for people, and ultimately host public events to share their findings and celebrate streets with their communities.

Philadelphia hosted three connected block parties where City Leads introduced the ‘Welcome Mat Experiment,’ aimed to provoke reflection.

The NSS uses art, culture, and clever forms of media that are simple, elegant, and engaging in order to get everyday people to think bigger when it comes to streets.

Get in touch

Want to know more about this project?

Team Director US Cities
Anna Muessig
Partner, Head of Climate, Team Director US Enterprise & Corporations
Blaine Merker
Our services

Delivering impact through a multidisciplinary approach

Urban Strategy

Urban Strategy is the foundation upon which form, function and behaviour are created. Our holistic approach always starts with asking what life should exist in place, what spaces invite for that life, and what buildings and facilities support this. People and life first, always.

 & Mobility

Mobility is a key driver of urban transformation and quality of life. By approaching transportation and mobility challenges from a people-first perspective we help clients prioritize the human experience in everything from city-wide strategies to street corner improvements.