Bicycle Safety Guide and Countermeasure Selection System


An example of special paving treatments, street lighting, and landscaping in Charlotte, North Carolina. - Dan Burden - Andy Hamilton This example of public art in Portland, Oregon, helps visually narrow the roadway. - Andy Hamilton


Photo by Chris Henry Street furniture was used to visually narrow the roadway through this plaza in Eugene, Oregon.
Photo by Chris Henry



Visual Narrowing

Traffic calming techniques may be combined with treatments designed to create a visual perception of a narrow, multi-use roadway in an effort to slow speeds and increase motorist attentiveness. Adding treatments such as street trees, vertical lighting elements, street furniture, special paving treatments, or roadway markings, and even striping bike lanes may create a perception of a narrow roadway or travel lanes (but do not necessarily physically narrow it). 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 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, if a bike lane has a different paving treatment from the one used for other travel lanes, it might emphasize the bike lane and remind motorists to expect bicyclists.


Visual narrowing suggests to motorists that the street is a narrow, low-speed street and other users should be expected.


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

Estimated Cost

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


To view references for this countermeasure group click here.

Case Studies

Eugene, Oregon
Eugene, Oregon