Shared-Use Path Level of Service Calculator

A User's Guide
Source: Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center, Federal Highway Administration

Shared-use paths are becoming increasingly busy in many places in the United States. Path designers and operators need guidance on how wide to make new or rebuilt paths and whether to separate the different types of users. The current guidance is not very specific, has not been calibrated to conditions in the United States, and does not accommodate the range of modes found on a typical U.S. path. The purpose of this project was to develop a level of service (LOS) estimation method for shared-use paths that overcomes these limitations. The research included the development of the theory of traffic flow on a path, an extensive effort to collect data on path operations, and a survey during which path users expressed their degree of satisfaction with the paths shown on a series of videos.

Based on the theory developed and the data collected, the researchers developed an LOS estimation method for bicyclists that requires minimal input and produces a simple and useful result. The method requires only four inputs from the user: One-way user volume in the design hour, mode split percentages, trail width, and presence or absence of a centerline. Factors involved in the estimation of an LOS for a path include the number of times a typical bicyclist meets or passes another path user and the number of those passes that are delayed. The method considers five types of path users when calculating adult bicyclists' LOS, including other adult bicyclists, child bicyclists, pedestrians, runners, and in-line skaters.

This report provides step-by-step instructions on how to use the LOS procedure and spreadsheet calculation tool, which can be downloaded from the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center Web site at Other products of the effort include FHWA-HRT-05-137 Evaluation of Safety, Design, and Operation of Shared-Use Paths: Final Report, which documents the research and the spreadsheet calculation tool and is the basis of FHWA-HRT-05-139 Evaluation of Safety, Design, and Operation of Shared-Use Paths TechBrief.

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