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design and engineeringroadway design

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Roadway narrowing

Roadway narrowing can be achieved in several different ways:

1) Lane widths can be reduced (to 9, 10, or 11 feet) and excess asphalt striped with a bicycle lane or paved shoulders;

2) Travel lanes can be removed; or,

3) the street can be physically narrowed by extending sidewalks, landscaped areas, or by adding on-street parking within the former curb lines.

This can reduce vehicle speeds along a roadway section and enhance movement and safety for pedestrians. Bicycle travel will also be enhanced and bicyclist safety improved when bicycle lanes are added.

Colored asphalt has been used to identify bike lanes on this street in Holland. The bike lanes visually narrow the street and help reduce speeds. Although the curb to curb width is more than thirty feet, the motorist only sees 11 feet of driving space.

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.

curb radius reduction

adding bicycle lanes

roadway narrowing

reducing number of lanes

one-way / two-way street conversions

driveway improvements

well-designed right turn slip lanes

raised medians


• Multiple benefits in terms of reducing speeds, increasing safety, and redistributing space to other users.


• Bicyclists must be safely accommodated. Bike lanes or wide curb lanes are needed if motor vehicle volumes and/or speeds are high.

• Road narrowing must consider school bus and emergency service access, and truck volumes.

• Evaluate if narrowing may encourage traffic to divert to other local streets in the neighborhood.

Estimated Cost:

Adding striped shoulders or on-street bike lanes can cost as little as $1000 per mile if the old paint does not need to be changed. The cost for restriping a mile of street to bike lanes or reducing the number of lanes to add on-street parking is $5,000$10,000 depending on the number of old lane lines to be removed. Constructing a raised median or widening a sidewalk can cost $100,000 or more per mile.

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