Reduce Lane Width:

Before (top) and after (bottom) width of lanes is reduced.

Illustration by A.J. Silva

Photo by City of Eugene, OR
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Roadway lane narrowing may help to reduce vehicle speeds along a roadway section and enhance movement and safety for bicyclists as well as pedestrians. Lane narrowing is best used where motor vehicle speeds are low to encourage shared lane travel and prevent motorists from attempting to pass bicyclists within the same lane if there is insufficient width. Another use would be to gain space to stripe a bicycle lane or paved shoulder where motor vehicle speeds and volume are higher. Lane width reductions can be achieved in several different ways:

  1. Lane widths can be reduced to 3.0 or 3.4 m (10 or 10.5 ft) and excess pavement striped with a bicycle lane or shoulder.
  2. Excess lane width can be reallocated to parking.
  3. The street and lanes can also be physically narrowed by extending the curb for wider sidewalks and landscaped buffers, or by adding a raised median.


  • Redistribute space to other users, such as to gain space for bike lanes.
  • Narrowing travel lanes may lower motor vehicle speeds and encourage safer sharing of the roadway in low speed areas.

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  • Bicyclists must be safely accommodated. Bike lanes, wide curb lanes, or paved shoulders are needed if motor vehicle volumes and speeds are high.
  • Road narrowing must consider school bus and emergency service access as well as truck volumes.
  • Besides narrowing lanes, tightening curb radii is another way to reduce speeds of turning vehicles.
  • Evaluate whether narrowing may encourage traffic to divert to other local streets.

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Estimated Cost

Adding striped shoulders or on-street bike lanes can cost as little as $620 per km ($1,000 per mi) if the old paint does not need to be changed. The cost for restriping a kilometer of street to bike lanes or to add on-street parking is $3,100 to $6,200 ($5,000 to $10,000 per mi), depending on the number of old lane lines to be removed. Constructing a raised median or changing the curb alignment (widening a sidewalk or buffer) can cost $62,000 or more per km ($100,000 or more per mi).

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Case Studies

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