Do All Roadway Users Want the Same Things?
This paper presents findings from a recent study on roadway design preferences among pedestrians, drivers, bicyclists, and public transit users along a major urban corridor in the East San Francisco Bay Area. Sponsored by the California DOT, the research focused on exploring design preferences that could increase perceived traffic safety, walkability, bikability, and economic vitality along urban arterials.
Results from an intercept survey showed that all user groups desire similar roadway design features along the test corridor, which carries 25,000-30,000 motorists bi-directionally and has comprehensive sidewalk coverage, but no bicycle facilities. In an open-ended question about street improvements to enhance perceived traffic safety, all respondent groups requested the same top five improvements. Bicycle lanes were ranked first by pedestrians, drivers, and bicyclists (fifth by public transit respondents), and improved pedestrian crossings were ranked second by pedestrians, drivers, and public transit users (third by bicyclists). The other top five suggestions were the same for all groups, though ordered slightly differently: slowing traffic/improving driver behavior, increasing street lighting, and increasing traffic signals/stop signs. Similar preference alignment was found regarding street improvements to encourage more visits to the corridor.
These findings suggest that design features generally thought to benefit one road user group, such as bicycle lanes for bicyclists, may also benefit other users. Moreover, these results provide evidence that roadway planning can take advantage of synergistic opportunities to benefit multiple user groups by implementing a few key design interventions. Overall, the findings support the continued implementation of complete streets principles and policies.