A road diet, or reducing travel lanes for vehicles on a roadway, is a cost-effective solution to increase safety for vehicles, pedestrians, bicyclists and other roadway users. This practice involves restriping segments (typically on four-lane undivided streets) to two lanes plus a center turn lane, leaving room on the sides for bike lanes, walkways and/or bus turnouts.
It’s a trend that’s sweeping the nation, and in 2014 the City Council passed a resolution directing the Public Works Department to analyze local road diet possibilities. Staff based on their study on two main criteria— average daily traffic should be less than 20,000 vehicles and peak hour traffic should be less than 1,000 vehicles per hour.
The first road diet completed was Leeds Trafficway from Stadium Drive to Emanual Cleaver II Boulevard, which was repaved and restriped in 2015. Other road diets finished or underway since then are: E. Gregory Boulevard from Oldham Road to Cleveland Avenue; N.E. 108th Street from Smalley Avenue to Cookingham Drive; and N.E. Barry Road from Kenwood Avenue to Highland Avenue. The most recent road diet can be seen along Grand Boulevard. This road diet includes new bike lanes on each side of Grand, from 5th Street to 20th Street. Another 2017 road diet with bike lanes can be found in the northland along N Highland Avenue from Vivion to NE 46th Street.
Why road diets?
Road diets reflect the needs of the community. We identify four lane roads with lower traffic volumes as candidates for road diets. These roadways often reflect outdated needs for capacity in areas better served with a different street configuration. Road diets provide a number of benefits for areas in which they are effective and appropriate:
- Improve safety by including a protected left-turn lane
- Reduce crossing distance for pedestrians
- Reduce travel speeds and crash severity
- Add parking or bicycle access to roadways
The U.S. Federal Highway Administration reports that road diets reduce aggressive speeding and cut collisions by nearly 30 percent. More information on road diets can be found on the Federal Highway Administration website.