Historically, people have settled near roads and rivers (waterways). Over time alongside these roads lonely taverns turned into villages and villages grew into cities and towns. These settlements provided a place for travelers to have a rest, eat, groom horses, exchange news and goods.

We are now rediscovering the importance of the quality of public spaces in everyday life, and especially the quality of streetscape. We want to walk and cross streets safely, have attractive places to meet and relax, and we want streets to connect neighbourhoods and offer all sorts of activities and serendipitous encounters. A growing number of people appreciate and enjoy markets, street festivals and meeting places. An increasing number of people want to walk through the city, go for a jog or ride a bicycle.

More and more cities are looking for ways to improve the quality of their streetscape, but they lack the knowledge or resources to achieve this. This catalogue and website www.streetscape.lv serves as an inspiration to create safe, lively and interesting streets by presenting designs of various streetscape elements.

This catalogue has been developed as part of the Estonian-Latvian-Russian cross-border co-operation program's ELRI-109 "ESTLATRUS TRAFFIC" project "Innovative streetscape design - Sustainable transport and public space development in the border cities of Estonia, Latvia and Russia".

In recent years a great number of urban street renewal projects have been undertaken, thus changing the faces of cities. Overall, the benefits have been numerous – improvement in the quality of pavements, lighting, traffic safety, creation of green spaces, cycling infrastructure, etc. However, due to the fast-paced project implementation, standard solutions are often used and so cities lose their unique appearance and grow in similarity. It is not simply nostalgia for “the good old days”, but a warning that cities need to appreciate their unique values, find their identity and learn to represent themselves by creating a city-specific design, tourism, culture, public spaces, including streetscape and by focusing on creating an image of the city.

The street is the main symbol and backbone of public space. In the creation of a street’s character the design of streetscape elements and their interaction and ability to influence the street environment play an important role. It is important to create a unique design, but at the same time it has to be universal enough so no users are excluded.

For cities and towns especially a well-thought-out, interesting and characteristic design provides an opportunity to raise the quality of life for local people while creating competitive products on the tourism market. Towns have the opportunity to become important tourist attractions – a must be and a must-see places.