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Designing for Nonmotorists

Highway and Street Facilities: Designing for All Users

Presented at the FHWA Field Engineers Learning & Development Seminar
April 20, 2010, Dallas, Texas

Christopher Douwes, Trails and Enhancements Program Manager,
Federal Highway Administration

Photo of a group of people attending opening day and dedication of the Lake Mineral Wells State Park and Trailway in Texas.

Photo from the National Transportation Enhancements Clearinghouse
Mineral Wells to Weatherford Rail-Trail, Mineral Wells, TX.
Opening day and dedication of the Mineral Wells to Weatherford Rail Trail.
(Photo: Texas DOT).

Course Overview

Part 2: Highway and Street Facilities


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Road Diets

Concept: Design from right-of-way line toward the center, not from the centerline out. Rather than beginning a design from the centerline, and first accommodating motor vehicles, and then allowing leftover space for bicyclists and pedestrians, consider designing first for pedestrians and bicyclists, and then allowing leftover space for motorists. This doesn't work everywhere, but can be considered.

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Road Diets

  • Street and location criteria:
    • Moderate volumes (8,000-15,000 ADT).
    • Roads with safety issues.
    • Main streets; commercial reinvestment areas.
    • Economic enterprise zones.
    • Entertainment districts.
    • Historic streets, scenic roads.
    • Transit corridors.
    • Popular or essential bicycle routes or links.

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Road Diets

Convert 4-lane undivided to 3-lane.

Graphic showing differences in road widths after adding a bicycle lane. Before: 4 lanes, 3.6m (12ft) each. After: 3 center lanes, 3.6m (12ft) each with 2 outside bike lanes 1.8m (6ft) each.

Source: Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan.
Taken from FHWA University Course on Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation, Publication No. FHWA-HRT-05-133, July 2006.

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Road Diets

From FHWA's A Resident's Guide for Creating Safe and Walkable Communities,
Resource Sheet 7: Engineering Solutions to Improve Pedestrian Safety

Before

Photo of a road with no median.

After

Photo of a road with a median.

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Road Diets

Examples from National Complete Streets Coalition

Photo of a road with no median.

Photo of a road with a median.

Photo of a road with small sidewalk.

Photo of a road with larger sidewalk.

Photo credits provided from the National Complete Streets Coalition.
Left: San Diego CA. Photos from Dan Burden, Walkable Communities, Inc.
Right: Charlotte NC. Photos from City of Charlotte (likely, but possibly from Dan Burden).

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Road Diets

Examples from National Complete Streets Coalition

Photo of a road with no median.

Photo of a road with center turn lane.

Photo of a road with no median.

Photo of a road with center turn lane

Photo credits provided from the National Complete Streets Coalition.
Left: Colorado Springs CO, provided by the City of Colorado Springs
Right: Orlando FL, source unknown (possibly Dan Burden)

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Road Diets

Examples from National Complete Streets Coalition

Photo of a road with no median.

Photo of a road with a median.

Photo of a road with no bike lanes.

Photo of a road with bike lanes

Photo credits provided from the National Complete Streets Coalition.
Left: New York City, provided by the New York City Department of Transportation
Right: Pottstown PA, source unknown.

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Road Diets

On-Street Parking: Reduce Lane Width.

Before: Two center lanes, 3.6m (12ft) each, and 2 parking lanes 3.0m (10ft) each. After: Two center lanes, 3.6m (12ft) each with 2 outside parking lanes, one 2.1 m (7ft) and the other 2.4m (8ft), and 1 bike lane 1.5m (5ft).
Source: Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan.
Taken from FHWA University Course on Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation,
Publication No. FHWA-HRT-05-133, July 2006.

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Road Diet?

We will have to work in stages to get the recreational motorists off the road.
Initially, we may have to provide separated areas for them to drive. Something like this:

Edited Photo of a road with main lanes being bicycle lanes and shoulder accessible to cars.

A recent recreation survey for North Carolina found that nearly 60% of the State's population drives for pleasure... I envision a letter to the editor: "Get those [recreational] motorists off the road! I'm trying to bike to work and they are hogging the road just driving around for fun!"

Photo Source: Circulated through the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals listserv.
The image was originally in an ad by the Bicycle Alliance of Washington.
See www.leeds.ac.uk/leedsbug/images/Car_Lane_Seattle.jpg for the original caption.
See www.bicyclealliance.org/ for more information about the Bicycle Alliance of Washington.
Quotation source: Charlie Zegeer, University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center / Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center. See also www.pedbikeimages.org.

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Updated: 02/10/2014
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