Narrowed Traffic Lanes Safer in Surrey
The City of Surrey successfully reduced motor vehicle collision rates along several segments of its high-volume arterials by reducing the width of travel lanes from 4.3 metres, to between 3.3 and 3.0 metres.
From Moving to Vision Zero: Road Safety Strategy Update and Showcase of Innovation in British Columbia (page 71) by Road Safety BC
Research studies elsewhere have found that reducing the width of travel lanes causes a decrease in driving speed by lowering drivers’ perceived margin for error. As a result, both the frequency and severity of collisions is reduced.137 One study also found that narrowing lanes to 3.0 metres does not reduce traffic capacity, and therefore has no negative effect on congestion.138
A study commissioned by the City of Surrey found a considerable effect of the narrowed lanes on driving speeds. On average, vehicles travelled at 31 km/h over the posted speed limit prior to the lane width reduction and only 11 to 18 km/h over the speed limit after the reduction. Analysis of video footage also revealed that vehicles continued to have proper lane control where lanes had been narrowed.139 Consequently, cyclists are not placed at greater danger by the risk of vehicles drifting into bicycle lanes.
The lane width reduction translated into a 6% to 12% reduction in collision rates along different roadways, and a 43% reduction in the rate of collision along 168th Street between 60th Avenue and 64th Avenue specifically. These results are consistent with findings from other jurisdictions that have employed this strategy.140,141
137 Harwood, Douglas W (1990). Effective Utilization of Street Width on Urban Arterials. No. 330. Transportation Research Board.
138 Petritsch, T. (2013). The Influence of Lane Widths on Safety and Capacity: A Summary of the Latest Findings. Sprinkle Consulting Inc, FL, USA.
139 Petrovic, Mirjana & Klimet Kuzmanavoski (2015).Travel Lanes Modification – Safety Study. Commissioned by the City of Surrey.
140 Wood, Jonathan S., Jeffrey P. Gooch, & Eric T. Donnell (2015). Estimating the safety effects of lane widths on urban streets in Nebraska using the propensity scores-potential outcomes framework. Accident Analysis and Prevention. Volume 82: 180-191.
141 World Health Organization (2008). "Speed management: a road safety manual for decision-makers and practitioners." Retrieved from:
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