In a vehicular ad hoc network (VANET), high-mobility and uneven distribution of vehicles are important factors affecting the performance of routing protocols. The high mobility may cause frequent changes of network topology, whereas the uneven distribution of vehicles may lead to routing failures due to network partition; even high density of vehicles may cause severe wireless channel contentions in an urban environment. In this paper, we propose a novel concept called the microtopology (MT), which consists of vehicles and wireless links among vehicles along a street as a basic component of routing paths and even the entire network topology. We abstract the MT model reflecting the dynamic routing-related characteristics in practical urban scenarios along streets, including the effect of mobility of vehicles, signal fading, wireless channel contention, and existing data traffic. We first analyze the endside-to-endside routing performance in an MT as a basis of routing decision. Then, we propose a novel street-centric routing protocol based on MT (SRPMT) along the streets for VANETs. Simulation results show that our proposed SRPMT protocol achieves higher data delivery rate and shorter average end-to-end delay compared with the performance of greedy perimeter stateless routing (GPSR) and greedy traffic-aware routing (GyTAR).