Reaching Vision Zero: Road Diets and Wider Lanes?

Slowing traffic by reducing the width of lanes should not be a one-size fits all approach to reaching Vision Zero.

1 minute read

October 5, 2015, 6:00 AM PDT

By jwilliams @jwillia22


Road Diet

Brandon O'Connor / flickr

The idea of putting roads on diets—essentially shrinking the width of driving lanes to slow vehicles down—is a common topic in the recent discourse of how we reduce traffic fatalities down to zero. Multiple cities around the world have instituted such policies by shrinking lanes for vehicular traffic and adding bicycle and pedestrian improvements.

Cathy Tuttle, writing in The Urbanist, argues that while reducing the width of lanes on urban streets is a key component in slowing traffic to make streets safer for all users, the same may not hold true for highways and other designated truck and transit routes. Citing the fatal crash of a Duck Boat on Seattle’s Aurora Bridge in September, Tuttle notes that the bridge stands out as an example of where narrower is not necessarily better for promoting safety.

“… Federal standards for highways recommend 12-foot lanes, in addition to shoulders wide enough for emergency parking and median barriers. Most lanes along I-5 are 12 feet wide. The Aurora Bridge lanes are 9.5 feet wide…

Lanes on highways need to be wide to accommodate wide vehicles moving quickly. Traffic on the Aurora Bridge is posted 40 MPH, while people driving average more than 10 miles an hour faster (p.19 here [PDF]). The Aurora Bridge has had 144 crashes since 2005.”

Monday, September 28, 2015 in The Urbanist

Large blank mall building with only two cars in large parking lot.

Pennsylvania Mall Conversion Bill Passes House

If passed, the bill would promote the adaptive reuse of defunct commercial buildings.

April 18, 2024 - Central Penn Business Journal

Street scene in Greenwich Village, New York City with people walking through busy intersection and new WTC tower in background.

Planning for Accessibility: Proximity is More Important than Mobility

Accessibility-based planning minimizes the distance that people must travel to reach desired services and activities. Measured this way, increased density can provide more total benefits than increased speeds.

April 14, 2024 - Todd Litman

Rendering of wildlife crossing over 101 freeway in Los Angeles County.

World's Largest Wildlife Overpass In the Works in Los Angeles County

Caltrans will soon close half of the 101 Freeway in order to continue construction of the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing near Agoura Hills in Los Angeles County.

April 15, 2024 - LAist

Facade of brick multistory apartment buildings in New York City with fire scapes.

New York Passes Housing Package Focused on New Development and Adaptive Reuse

The FY 2025 budget includes a new tax incentive, funding for affordable housing on state land, and support for adaptive reuse and ADUs.

10 minutes ago - Governor Kathy Hochul

"No 710" lawn sign on green lawn.

LA Metro Board Approves New 710 Freeway Plan

The newest plan for the 710 corridor claims it will not displace any residents.

April 22 - Streetsblog LA

Close-up of row of electric cars plugged into chargers at outdoor station.

Austin’s Proposed EV Charging Rules Regulate Station Locations, Size

City planners say the new rules would ensure an efficient distribution of charging infrastructure across the city and prevent an overconcentration in residential areas.

April 22 - Austin Monitor

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Call for Speakers

Mpact Transit + Community

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.