Skip to Content
Streetsblog New York City home
Streetsblog New York City home
Log In
Street Safety

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.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog New York City

‘Temporary’ Insanity: DOT Traffic Cams Locked Out of Key Enforcement Database

Temp tag drivers get off scot free because of a little-known loophole.

July 23, 2024

Disabled NYer’s are Victims of Gov. Hochul’s Congestion Pricing Pause

So many New Yorkers can’t use the closest subway station to their homes because they don't have an elevator. And Gov. Hochul just halted funding for 23 new lifts.

July 23, 2024

DOT Will Fast-Track Private Sidewalk E-Bike Charging Stations

The mayor announced a new sidewalk e-bike charging station initiative, along with progress on the e-bike battery swap program and more money to FDNY for educational outreach.

July 23, 2024

Tuesday’s Headlines: LEGO Finally Gets It Edition

Streetsblog has had our issues with LEGO over the years, but we're willing to forgive. Plus other news.

July 23, 2024

Speeding Fuels Pedestrian Death Crisis As Council Stalls ‘Sammy’s Law’ Changes

Pedestrian fatalities were up 27 percent in the first six months of the year compared to 2023.

July 23, 2024
See all posts