Road Diets: A Rx for safer streets and neighborhoods

In the current issue of Innovator Magazine, the US Federal Highway Administration recommends putting roadways on a "diet" to "increase safety and mobility."

A "road diet" is a simple, cost-effective technique for communities who want to improve quality of life and make their streets safer for all ages and users. To implement a road diet, traffic engineers re-stripe a roadway - without widening it - to reduce the number of travel lanes. A common road diet conversion involves turning a 4-lane street into a 3-lane street. The reconfiguration results in a safer, more complete street that accommodates all users: pedestrians, people on bikes, wheelchair users, children, and people in motor vehicles.

The bonus is that road diets can be implemented during already scheduled re-paving projects, meaning the cost of the project is minimal to the community. No expensive - or disruptive - road widening, and little to no additional cost to the community.

Aside from creating space for non-motorized road users, road diets vastly improve the safety of the roadway for motor vehicle users. Crashes are reduced by significant margins, and the crashes that do occur are less severe.

Check with your local transportation and public works department to see if a "road diet" can work in your community. All you have to lose is a dangerous street!