Traffic Safety Silver Bullet: Prohibit the 12-Foot Traffic Lane

Jeff Speck, author of Walkable City, argues that reducing the width of traffic lanes would be a panacea for the disastrous public health outcomes of traffic safety.

1 minute read

October 6, 2014, 2:00 PM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Orlando Street

Nataliya Hora / Shutterstock

Jeff Speck makes a strong statement in an article for CityLab: "the single best thing we can do for the health, wealth, and integrity of this great nation is to forbid the construction, ever again, of any traffic lane wider than 10 feet."

The article begins by setting the history of the 12-foot lane and the agencies that have designed wide lanes despite the consequences. Many cities design streets with lanes wider than ten feet, according to Speck, and "states and counties almost always apply a 12-foot standard."

Speck goes on to address the consequences of that choice: "Why do they do this? Because they believe that wider lanes are safer. And in this belief, they are dead wrong. Or, to be more accurate, they are wrong, and thousands of Americans are dead."

Speck goes on to detail the errors in understanding and judgment that allow for 12-foot lanes as well as "evidence compiled by traffic engineers, for traffic engineers" against 12-foot lanes. 

Monday, October 6, 2014 in CityLab

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