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Curb Extensions | Choker | Crossing Island

Roadway Narrowing

Chokers are curb extensions that narrow a street by widening the sidewalks or planting strips, effectively creating a pinch point along the street. Chokers can be created by bringing both curbs in, or they can be done by more dramatically widening one side at midblock locations. They can also be used at intersections, creating a gateway effect when entering a street.

Chokers can have a dramatic effect by reducing a two-lane street to one lane at the choker point, requiring motorists to yield to each other. In order for this to function effectively, the width of the travelway cannot be wide enough for two cars to pass: 12' is generally effective (and will allow emergency vehicles to pass unimpeded). This kind of design is usually only appropriate for low volume, low speed streets.

This choker on a two-way roadway in Seattle, Washington narrows the street from two lanes to one. Traffic is forced to slow, and in some cases wait for an approaching vehicle to pass before proceeding.

The material provided on this page is from the FHWA publication "Pedestrian Facilities User Guide." This guide is currently under review by practicioners and others in the field. Subsequently, the material provided on this page is subject to change in the future.

Roadway Narrowing

Lateral / Horizontal Shifts

Raised Devices

Complementary Tools

Whole Street Designs


• Slows vehicles at a mid-point along the street.

• Creates a clear transition between a commercial and a residential area.

• Narrows overly wide intersections, and midblock areas of streets.

• Adds room along the sidewalk or planting strip for landscaping or street furniture.

• Reduces cut-through traffic.


• If two travel lanes are maintained on a two-way street and/or the travel lane widths are unchanged (at the location of the choker), it will have a minimal effect on speed.

Estimated Cost:

$5,000-$20,000 depending on site conditions and landscaping. Drainage may represent a significant cost.

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