Roadway Reconfiguration (Road Diet)

PROVEN SAFETY COUNTERMEASURES


Roadway Reconfiguration "Road Diet" 
 

What is a Road Diet?
How can a road with less lanes carry the same amount of traffic?
How does a road diet make driving safer?
How does a road diet make walking safer?
How does a road diet make biking safer?
I don't ride a bike, why should I care about bike lanes?
How does a road diet affect my business?
What happens if it is a colossal failure?
Why are some people concerned about road diet?
Why should I trust you?
Has Louisville reconfigured any roadways to form road diets? Yes!
Does Louisville have plans for additional road diets? Yes!

What is a road Diet?
The classic roadway reconfiguration, commonly referred to as a "road diet,"  is re-striping a road from four through lanes to two, with a center turn lane in order to provide more space for on-street parking and improved pedestrian/bicycle accommodations. Engineers and planners alike have found that in high turn environments three-lane roads can carry as many motor vehicles as a four-lane road- with greater safety and efficiency for all modes of transportation.
 
How can a road with less lanes carry the same amount of traffic?
That is the one on everyone's mind, and luckily there is an answer! When a car stops in a moving traffic lane to turn left it causes traffic to slow down among other issues- congestion, blind spots, unsafe lane changes, and discrepencies in vehicle speeds are some of the most common. In a three-lane system there is always one lane for driving, and one lane for turning, no mixing up the two, making driving safer and more reliable, with fewer crashes and frustrations. For these reasons, a 3-lane road can typicall carry the same amount of traffic as a 4-lane road (and in some cases it can handle more traffic).

Another part of the congestion equation are driveway and street intersections. It's the intersection that oftern determines the levels of congestion on a road. An important point to be made is that the intersections will continue to have the same amount of lanes as they do today.

How does a road diet make driving safer?
As mentioned above, road diets generally provide a center turn lane so that left turns are simpler and safer. A driver crosses only one lane of opposing traffic at a time (resulting in fewer blind spots). With an undivided 4-lane road, a driver must find a gap in two or three lanes of traffic at once to make a left turn. An argument against the safety factor is that it's because traffic is diverted to other streets that results in fewer crashes. This has been found to be a false assumption in most road diet installations. In reality, road diets have been found to maintain (and enhance) traffic flow while reducing crashes up to 34%.

How does a road diet make walking safer?
First, you only have to cross three lanes of traffic, not four. Second there are fewer blind spots as you only have one through lane in each direction, thus there is less sight blockage by cars. Third top vehicle speeds in a three lane system are generally lower (this does not mean that it will take longer to get through the road diet, it means that there will be less speeding up and slowing down, and a more consistent pace).

In some instances bike lanes can be added which means there will be less bike traffic on the sidewalks (which is already illegal, but still common, and can make sidewalks less safe for pedestrians).

How does a road diet make biking safer?
Bike lanes of course! And all of the reasons listed above for pedestrian safety. On some roadways today a cyclist is at risk of being rear-ended, "doored" by someone getting out of a parked car, or being "mirrored" by a motor vehicle passing by within a foot or two.

I don't ride a bike, why should I care about bike lanes?
Well first of all, there are tons of reasons the road diet will make life easier for all modes of transportation. But to see why bike lanes can be good for everyone, check out these bike lane benefits.

How does a road diet affect my business?
Some business owners think that removing a travel lane will result in less traffic in front of their business, but as stated above this is typically not true. Instead drivers will be more likely to notice your business instead of stressing about passing or being passed. The addition of bike lanes has also shown to increase business.

What happens if it doesn't work out?
There is always a possibility that a road diet project will not work out- and if this is determined through the evaluation process then Metro will repaint the road back to the way it used to be. The evaluation process will be determined for each project.  

Why are some people concerned about road diet?
The reasons we have heard are a bit fuzzy. Some people say it will slow them down while others think that there will be more congestion, and so avoid it, even though this has not been an issue in any road diet anywhere. Where bike lanes have been added, some feel the bike lanes are not well maintained. 

Why should I trust you?
You don't have to, check out the below resources and see for yourself how other road diets have positively affected communities around the nation.
 

FHWA Proven Counter Measures
Crash Reduction Factors for Traffic Engineering and ITS Improvements
York Blvd The Economics Of A Road Diet
Suburban development and increased traffic diminished Main Street's appeal to pedestrians, leading to empty storefronts and a failing historic downtown.
Evaluation of Lane Reduction “Road Diet” Measures on Crashes
Road diet research across the country

Has Louisville reconfigured any roadways to form road diets? Yes!
Remember from above: The classic roadway reconfiguration, commonly referred to as a "road diet,"  is restriping a road from four through lanes to two, with a center turn lane in order to provide more space for on-street parking and improved pedestrian/bicycle accommodations. Here are just a few places where Louisville has reconfigured a roadway:

Grinstead Dr: Cherokee Pkwy. to Hilliard Ave.
Grinstead Dr: Peterson Ave. to Stilz Ave.
West Market: 9th St. to 23rd St.
Brownsboro Rd.: State St. to N Ewing Ave.
Eastern Pkwy. 3rd St Arthur St.
Breckinridge St.: Barret Ave. to 7th St.
Kentucky St.: 8th St. to Barret Ave.
17th St.: 6th to 17th St.

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