Road Diets are one of FHWA’s Proven Safety Countermeasures

not deadly by designRoad Diets are one of Federal Highway Administration’s “Proven Safety Countermeasures.” This means our own Main Street’s reduction from 4 lanes to 3 is frequently encouraged by the FHWA and State DOTs for safety reasons. This is known as a “road diet.” From the FHWA’s safety website:

The classic roadway reconfiguration, commonly referred to as a “road diet,” involves converting an undivided four lane roadway into three lanes made up of two through lanes and a center two-way left turn lane. The reduction of lanes allows the roadway to be reallocated for other uses such as bike lanes, pedestrian crossing islands, and/or parking. Road diets have multiple safety and operational benefits for vehicles as well as pedestrians, such as:

  • Decreasing vehicle travel lanes for pedestrians to cross, therefore reducing the multiple-threat crash (when one vehicle stops for a pedestrian in a travel lane on a multi-lane road, but the motorist in the next lane does not, resulting in a crash) for pedestrians,
  • Providing room for a pedestrian crossing island,
  • Improving safety for bicyclists when bike lanes are added (such lanes also create a buffer space between pedestrians and vehicles),
  • Providing the opportunity for on-street parking (also a buffer between pedestrians and vehicles),
  • Reducing rear-end and side-swipe crashes, and
  • Improving speed limit compliance and decreasing crash severity when crashes do occur.

Why This Works: The FHWA says “Midblock locations tend to experience higher travel speeds, contributing to increased injury and fatality rates. More than 80 percent of pedestrians hit by vehicles traveling at 40 mph or faster will die, while less than 10 percent will die when hit at 20 mph or less. When appropriately applied, road diets have generated benefits to users of all modes of transportation, including bicyclists, pedestrians, and motorists. The resulting benefits include reduced vehicle speeds, improved mobility and access, reduced collisions and injuries, and improved livability and quality of life. When modified from four travel lanes to two travel lanes with a two-way left-turn lane, roadways have experienced a 29 percent reduction in all roadway crashes. The benefits to pedestrians include reduced crossing distance and fewer midblock crossing locations, which account for more than 70 percent of pedestrian fatalities.”

Learn More: FHWA Proven Safety Countermeasures

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