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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 a midblock location. 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 (or two narrow lanes), requiring motorists to yield to each other or slow down. In order for this to function effectively, the width of the travelway cannot be wide enough for two cars to pass: 4.9 m (16 ft) 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.

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

• Slow vehicles at a mid-point along the street.
• Create a clear transition between a commercial and a residential area.
• Narrow overly wide intersections and midblock areas of streets.
• Add room along the sidewalk or planting strip for landscaping or street furniture.
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• 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.
• Consult with local fire and sanitation departments before setting minimum width.
• Ensure that bicyclist safety and mobility are not diminished.
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  Estimated Cost
$5,000 to $20,000, depending on site conditions and landscaping. Drainage may represent a significant cost.
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