Road Diets and Pedestrian Safety

Originally Presented: November, 20 2012, 2:00-3:30 PM Eastern Time


The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC) hosted a free webinar on “road diets,” which are one of the nine proven countermeasures that FHWA is heavily promoting nationally.

Road diets, or the reallocation of road space through reduction in the number of regular traffic lanes, are of interest to communities that may be seeking to reduce traffic speeds, reduce crashes, improve accessibility for pedestrians and bicyclists, or achieve a number of other benefits. This webinar presented information about the safety benefits of road diets, particularly to pedestrians, and highlighted examples of road diet implementation in the United States.

Libby Thomas, a researcher at the UNC Highway Safety Research Center, provided a brief presentation on some of the research findings related to road diets. She discussed many of the safety benefits of road diets, which have been shown to reduce crashes among all road users.

Mike Sallaberry, Transportation Engineer at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, discussed the road diet experience in San Francisco, California. San Francisco has implemented more road diet projects within its 47 square miles than any other city in North America. This portion of the presentation provided some brief background on the history of road diets in San Francisco, focusing on how and why they are used. Mike discussed how road diets have been used to create space for bikeways, pedestrian facilities, and transit, as well as how they are used for traffic calming purposes and to add landscaping and storm water management features to a street. The presentation touched on some of the benefits of road diets but focused more on how to get them approved, especially when they are controversial.

Gina Coffman, of Toole Design Group, discussed the road diet experience in Seattle, Washington. The City of Seattle has successfully implemented over 30 road diets. Before and after evaluations have indicated up to 70 percent reduction in injury collisions and 90 percent reduction in aggressive speeders on corridors where such projects have been implemented.  Gina’s presentation explored the history, research, planning and design of road diets, offering tips to build stakeholder support through public process. The Seattle case studies include before and after data showing changes in traffic and bicycle volume, neighborhood diversions, speeding and collisions over the years.

The presenters also participated in a question and answer session to discuss how to address barriers to implementation and answer questions from the attendees.

Presented by:

  • Libby Thomas, UNC Highway Safety Research Center
  • Gina Coffman, Toole Design Group
  • Mike Sallaberry, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency

Webinar Resources: