Monday, November 30, 2020

Concepts for Transforming our Streets and Creating More Walking and Biking Opportunities

Road Diets in the PlanET Region

Central Street in Knoxville
Central Street in Knoxville
The City of Knoxville has already re-striped part of Central Street to reduce it to two through lanes, plus bicycle lanes. Their next step will be to resurface and in some places reconstruct the street, adding decorative crosswalks and landscaping. Between Pearl Place and Baxter Avenue, the extra pavement on the east side of Central will be converted into a tree-lined linear park.
Bicycle Lanes and Sharrows
Bicycle Lanes and Sharrows
Road diet proposals typically call for on-street bicycle lanes where there is room and shared lanes with “sharrows” where there isn’t room for a separate bicycle lane. The sharrow, or shared-lane marking, is a fairly new type of pavement marking, although many places have been studying its use for years. It indicates to bicyclists where to ride in a shared lane, and alerts drivers to the fact that bicyclists may be in the travel lane. It is especially useful in the context of on-street parking, where it helps direct bicyclists to stay clear of the “door zone” of parked cars.
Broadway in Lenoir City at A Street
Broadway in Lenoir City at A Street
West of City Hall, on Broadway at A Street, there is a desire for on-street parking on both sides of the street. The proposed road diet would replace the existing conditions with one travel lane in each direction (for both motor vehicles and bicycles), a two-way turn lane, and on-street parking interspersed with parklets on both sides. The parklets are pockets of greenspace that can also include outdoor seating.
Travel Time Impact of Road Diet
Travel Time Impact of Road Diet
TPO staff studied the impact of the proposed road diet for the 1 mile of Broadway between Walnut and G Streets in Lenoir City. The analysis predicts that travel time through the corridor during peak hours either increases slightly or actually decreases. The slight decrease in the westbound afternoon travel time may be due to the addition of the dedicated turn lane, which eliminates the weaving that occurs when a left-turning vehicle is blocking the left through lane of traffic. The amount of added delay that’s predicted for the eastbound peak times and westbound morning travel time is within the day-to-day travel time variation that motorists experience, so it would not be likely perceived by the average driver.
Cumberland Avenue in Knoxville
Cumberland Avenue in Knoxville
This image from the City of Knoxville shows the plans for the road diet on Cumberland Avenue near the University of Tennessee. The street will go from four through lanes to two, with the addition of a median with turn lanes, wider sidewalks, and streetscaping. The result will be a safer and more attractive pedestrian environment, and a safer street, since drivers won’t have to change lanes to get around left-turning vehicles. The Cumberland Avenue road diet will be phased, with construction scheduled to begin in 2014.

Road Diets in the PlanET Region


Knoxville-Knox County Metropolitan Planning Commission
Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization

About this Project

Road diets are a way to improve the safety and efficiency of our transportation system. A road diet narrows or eliminates travel lanes on a street or highway to make more room for pedestrians, bicyclists and parking. In addition to creating room on the street for other uses, road diets also increase safety for drivers and can improve the flow of traffic. This project describes the road diet concept and provides information about current and proposed road diet projects in our region.

Available Resources

Download the poster:

Concepts for Transforming our Streets and Creating More Walking and Biking Opportunities: Road Diets in the PlanET Region


During the PlanET process, we heard from local governments and residents interested in making streets safer and more active for all users, including drivers, pedestrians, cyclists and businesses. The Community Leadership Team selected Lenoir City's downtown for a demonstration project, which included the need for a road diet as part of the revitalization plan. Since other areas in the region have looked at and/or are embarking on road diets in their communities, a project concentrating on their applicability to the PlanET region has been provided. The Knoxville-Knox County Metropolitan Planning Commission and Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization staffs contributed to this synthesis of local road diet research and applicability. This project looks at the road diets under way in Knoxville on Cumberland Avenue and Central Street, as well as those conceptualized through the demonstration projects of PlanET, such as Lenoir City's Broadway and Townsend's U.S. 321.


Strengthen our existing cities and towns
Recent research has demonstrated that property values for both commercial and residential properties increase when infrastructure for walking and biking is improved. Marketability of properties, including faster sales and leases, has also increased in neighborhoods that have improved their walkability. New businesses, new jobs and increased tax revenues are all documented economic benefits related to an increased walkability of mixed-use districts.

Provide options for people who don’t drive
Around 30 percent of the people in any given community don’t drive. Reasons for not driving can include age, disability and the costs associated with using a car. Whatever the reason, people who don’t drive need ways to meet their daily needs and live independent lives. When road diets create safe, comfortable places for people to walk, bicycle and access transit, they create essential links for our friends and neighbors who can’t or don’t drive.

Assure the safety of our communities
More than 4,000 pedestrians are killed on streets in the U.S. every year. Senior pedestrians age 65 and older have a higher fatality rate than any other age group. More than 600 people are killed in crashes every year while riding a bicycle. Road diets that provide safe facilities for pedestrians and bicyclists – such as sidewalks, crosswalks, curb extensions and bicycle lanes – can help reduce the risk of crashes involving pedestrians and bicyclists. This encourages more walking and cycling, which also increases safety, by increasing drivers’ awareness of the presence of people on foot and bicycle in their communities.

Enhance our existing transit system.
When road diets are created on streets that have transit service (or where transit service is planned), transit amenities can also be added. Benches and shelters make bus stops comfortable and attractive places. A wide transit pad as part of the sidewalk makes it easier for people to enter and exit a bus, especially those with disabilities. And when the entire street is safer for pedestrians and bicyclists, it makes it easier for transit users to get to and from the bus stop.

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Copyright 2013 by Knoxville-Knox County Metropolitan Planning Commission
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