Visual Narrowing:

Street furniture was used to visually narrow the roadway through this plaza in Eugene, OR.

Photo by Chris Henry, City of Eugene, OR

Photo by Dan Burden
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Photo by Dan Burden
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Photo by Dan Burden
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Some communities have begun combining traffic calming and other techniques with treatments designed to create a visual perception of a narrow, multi-use roadway in an effort to slow speeds and increase motorist attentiveness. Treatments such as adding street trees, vertical lighting elements, street furniture, special paving treatments or roadway markings, even striping bike lanes, that may create a perception of a narrow roadway or travel lanes (but do not necessarily physically narrow it) have been implemented. Effectiveness of these techniques at lowering speeds is somewhat inconclusive since multiple treatments are usually implemented simultaneously. Communities may nevertheless desire to implement such treatments as part of the overall design or aesthetic of the roadway and neighborhood.

Use of contrasting paving materials might also enhance the functional separation of different portions of the roadway. For example, different paving treatment from that used for other lanes might emphasize a bike lane and increase motorists’ perception that bicyclists should be expected.

Purpose

  • Suggest to motorists that the street is a narrow, low-speed street and other users should be expected.

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Considerations

  • Maintain adequate sight distance, especially at intersections.
  • Maintain adequate sidewalk clearance for pedestrian volume.

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Estimated Cost

Costs, including maintenance costs, would vary widely depending on the specific treatments implemented.

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Case Studies

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