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Are Bike Lanes Coming to Your Town? How Road Diets Could Affect You

Bike lanes, reduced crash rates, and a better environment are just some of the reasons why a road diet makes so much sense.  Few infrastructure enhancements offer so many advantages for such a modest investment.  In fact, a road diet is perhaps the best option public safety departments have at their disposal for improving driver safety and benefiting the public.

What Is a Road Diet?

The term “road diet” refers to the practice of transforming an established undivided roadway into a section with fewer through lanes and a center turn lane.  This offers a host of benefits, including the following:

·       Added protection for motorists making mid-block left turns.

·       Reduced distance for pedestrians to cross the street.

·       Slower driving speeds, with an accompanying decrease in accident frequency and severity.

·       Space for bike lanes, greenways, on-street parking, stopping points for city buses, and other improvements.

Types of Road Diets

·       Four-lane to five-lane – In high-traffic areas, it may be necessary for a road diet to incorporate two through lanes running in each direction.  Narrowing lane width in such cases offers the twin benefits of reduced operating speeds and an added safety zone for vehicles making left turns.

·       Two-lane to three-lane – In areas with increased motor traffic, a two-lane segment with a centered turning lane can both increase road capacity and offer the benefits of a triple-lane set up.

·       Three-lane to three-lane – in some cases, it’s possible to simply reduce the width of through lanes while retaining the existing left turn lane in the center of the roadway.  The space gained from narrowing the external lanes can be used for bike lanes, parking spots, or other purposes.

·       Five-lane to three-lane – some jurisdictions have redesigned five-lane road segments to three-lane configurations, adding diagonal parking, pedestrian refuge islands, bike lanes, or other features.



With America’s roads becoming more crowded all the time, civil departments will face ever-increasing challenges to the goal of safeguarding the public.  However, with options such as bike lanes and road diets in their toolkits, these agencies can both lower accident rates and enhance quality of life for all those who use the nation’s transportation system.