Wiki Wednesday: Getting Streets in Shape With Road Diets

This morning Sarah wrote about the excessive width of many American roads, which makes speeding all too tempting for drivers. So I’m going to bookend the day with this StreetsWiki entry on road diets — the practice of reducing the number of travel lanes — from author Andy Hamilton:

toronto_road_diet.jpgPhoto: Dan Burden.

Road diets are anathema to traditional traffic engineering
principles because they tend to reduce roadway capacity. However, in
practice, road diets can cause vehicle speeds to readjust to a more
optimal speed, increasing the throughput of vehicles per lane. For this
reason, road diets sometimes reduce congestion, and generally always
increase safety for all users of the roadway. Studies in Seattle found
that road diets decreased the rate of crashes by 6%.

The
need for road diets comes from the fact that multi-lane urban roads are
built to handle large volumes of traffic during the morning and evening
rush hours. Generally, during the other 22 hours of the day, the road
is larger than necessary. This abundance of spare pavement encourages
speeding, and places bicyclists and pedestrians at far higher risk than
a typical two-lane road.

One of the references in this entry comes from Dan Burden and Peter Lagerwey’s "Road Diets: Fixing the Big Roads," available as a PDF from Walkable Communities. It’s a bit of an oldie but definitely a goodie if you’re looking for more facts, figures, and stories about implementing road diets.

  • Dan Burden has been a fine and constant contributor to the sustainable transport movement in many ways, including his ten year old piece on Road Diets. We picked up your good lead on this today on World Streets – http://www.worldstreets.org — where you can see more on this.

  • kent

    It would be great to build up this wiki. I’m always looking for good examples of road diets, complete streets, etc. The details are critical- AADT, Right-of-way, before and after info. Anyone no of any other resources?

  • Xue

    How about:
    – ITE “Traffic Calming: State of the Practice”
    – APA/ASCE “Traffic Calming Handbook”

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Moving Beyond the Automobile: Road Diets

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What’s a road diet? Quite simply, traffic-calming expert Dan Burden told Streetfilms, “A road diet is anytime you take any lane out of a road.” The first time people hear about a road diet, their initial reaction likely goes something like this: “How can removing lanes improve my neighborhood and not cause traffic backups?” It […]