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Section 2: Urban Streets

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Overview

The term “Urban Street” as used in this chapter refers to roadways in developed areas that provide access to abutting property as well as movement of vehicular traffic. Access for these facilities is controlled only through driveway locations and medians.

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Level of Service

Urban streets and their auxiliary facilities should be designed for level of service B as defined in the Highway Capacity Manual. Heavily developed urban areas may necessitate the use of level of service D. The class of urban facility should be carefully selected to provide the appropriate level of service. For more information regarding level of service as it relates to facility design, see Service Flow Rate under subhead Traffic Volume in Chapter 2.

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Basic Design Features

This subsection includes information on the following basic design features for urban streets:

Table 3-1 shows tabulated basic geometric design criteria for urban arterial, collector, and local streets. The basic design criteria shown in this table reflects minmum and desirable values applicable to new location, reconstruction or major improvement projects (such as widening to provide additional lanes).

Anchor: #CIHBBACGTable 3-1: Geometric Design Criteria for Urban Streets

(US Customary)

Item

Functional Class

Desirable

Minimum

Design Speed (mph)

All

Up to 60

30

Minimum Horiz. Radius

All

See Tables 2-3 and 2-4, Figure 2-2

Maximum Gradient (%)

All

See Table 2-9

Stopping Sight Distance

All

See Table 2-1

Width of Travel Lanes (ft)

Arterial

Collector

Local

12

12

11-12

111

102

102,3

Curb Parking Lane Width (ft)

Arterial

Collector

Local

12

10

9

104

75

75

Shoulder Width6 (ft), Uncurbed Urban Streets

Arterial

Collector

Local

10

8

--

4

3

2

Width of Speed Change Lanes (ft)

Arterial and Collector

Local

11-12

10-12

10

9

Offset to Face of Curb (ft)

All

2

1

Median Width

All

See Medians

Border Width (ft)

Arterial

Collector

20

20

15

15

Right-of-Way Width

All

Variable 7

Clear Sidewalk Width (ft)10

All

6-88

5

On-Street Bicycle Lane Width

All

See Chapter 6, Bicycle Facilities

Superelevation

All

See Chapter 2, Superelevation

Horizontal Clearance Width

All

See Table 2-11

Vertical Clearance for New Structures (ft)

All

16.5

16.59

Turning Radii

-

See Chapter 7, Minimum Designs for Truck and Bus Turns

1In highly restricted locations or locations with few trucks and speeds less than or equal to 40 mph, 10 ft permissible.

2 In industrial areas 12 ft usual, and 11 ft minimum for restricted R.O.W. conditions. In non-industrial areas, 10 ft minimum.

3 In residential areas, 9 ft minimum.

4 Where there is no demand for use as a future through lane, 8 ft minimum.

5 In commercial and industrial areas, 8 ft minimum.

6 Where only minimum width is provided, it should be fully surfaced. Where desirable width is provided, partial (not less than minimum width) surfacing or full width surfacing may be provided at the option of the designer.

7 Right-of-way width is a function of roadway elements as well as local conditions.

8 Applicable for commercial areas, school routes, or other areas with concentrated pedestrian traffic.

9 Exceptional cases near as practical to 16.5 ft but never less than 14.5 ft. Existing structures that provide at least 14 ft may be retained.

10 Cross slopes, ramps, and sidewalks shall be in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines and the Texas Accessibility Standards. See Chapter 2, Curb and Curb and Gutters and Sidewalks and Pedestrian Elements.



Anchor: #i1062895Table 3-1: Geometric Design Criteria for Urban Streets

(Metric)

Item

Functional Class

Desirable

Minimum

Design Speed (km/h)

All

Up to 100

50

Minimum Horiz. Radius

All

See Tables 2-3 and 2-4, Figure 2-2

Maximum Gradient (%)

All

See Table 2-9

Stopping Sight Distance

All

See Table 2-1

Width of Travel Lanes (m)

Arterial

Collector

Local

3.6

3.6

3.3-3.6

3.31

3.02

3.02,3

Curb Parking Lane Width (m)

Arterial

Collector

Local

3.6

3.0

2.7

3.04

2.15

2.15

Shoulder Width 6 (m), Uncurbed Urban Streets

Arterial

Collector

Local

3.0

2.4

--

1.2

0.9

0.6

Width of Speed Change Lanes (m)

Arterial and Collector

Local

3.3-3.6

3.0-3.6

3.0

2.7

Offset to Face of Curb (m)

All

0.6

0.3

Median Width

All

See Medians

Border Width (m)

Arterial

Collector

6.0

6.0

4.5

4.5

Right-of-Way Width

All

Variable 7

Clear Sidewalk Width (m)10

All

1.8-2.48

1.5

On-Street Bicycle Lane Width

All

See Chapter 6, Bicycle Facilities

Superelevation

All

See Chapter 2 Superelevation

Horizontal Clearance Width

All

See Table 2-11

Vertical Clearance for New Structures (m)

All

5.0

5.09

Turning Radii

-

See Chapter 7, Minimum Designs for Truck and Bus Turns

1 In highly restricted locations or locations with few trucks and speeds less than or equal to 60 km/h 3.0 m permissible.

2 In industrial areas 3.6 m usual, and 3.3 m minimum for restricted R.O.W. conditions. In non-industrial areas, 3.0 m minimum.

3 In residential areas, 2.7 m minimum.

4 Where there is no demand for use as a future through lane, 2.4 m minimum.

5 In commercial and industrial areas, 2.4 m minimum.

6 Where only minimum width is provided, it should be fully surfaced. Where desirable width is provided, partial (not less than minimum width) surfacing or full width surfacing may be provided at the option of the designer.

7 Right-of-way width is a function of roadway elements as well as local conditions.

8 Applicable for commercial areas, school routes, or other areas with concentrated pedestrian traffic.

9 Exceptional cases near as practical to 5.0 m but never less than 4.4 m. Existing structures that provide at least 4.3 m may be retained.

10 Cross slopes, ramps, and sidewalks shall be in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines and the Texas Accessibility Standards. See Chapter 2, Curb and Curb and Gutters and Sidewalks and Pedestrian Elements.



For minor rehabilitation projects where no additional lanes are proposed, existing curbed cross sections should be compared with the design criteria in Table 3-1 to determine the practicality and economic feasibility of minor widening to meet the prescribed standards. Where only minimal widening is required to conform with a standard design, it is often cost effective to retain the existing street section, thereby sparing the cost of removing and replacing concrete curb and gutter and curb inlets. For these type projects, Resurfacing, Restoration, and Rehabilitation (3R) guidelines are usually applicable, see Chapter 4.

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Medians

Medians are desirable for urban streets with four or more traffic lanes. The primary functions of medians are to provide the following:

  • storage space for left-turning vehicles
  • separation of opposing traffic streams
  • access control to/from minor access drives and intersection.

    Medians used on urban streets include the following types:

  • raised
  • flush
  • two-way left-turn lanes.

    Raised Medians. A raised median is used on urban streets where it is desirable to control or restrict mid-block left-turns and crossing maneuvers. Installing a raised median can result in the following benefits:

  • restricting left-turn and crossing maneuvers to specific locations or certain movements
  • improving traffic safety
  • increasing throughput capacity and reducing delays
  • providing pedestrian refuge areas.

    Where ADT exceeds 20,000 vehicles per day or where development is occurring, and volumes are increasing and are anticipated to reach this level, and the demand for mid-block turns is high, a raised median design should be considered. For these conditions, a raised median may improve safety by separating traffic flows and controlling left-turn and crossing maneuvers. The use of raised medians should be discouraged where the roadway cross-section is too narrow for U-turns.

    For median left turn lanes at intersections, a median width of 16 ft [4.8 m] (12 ft [3.6 m] lane plus a 4 ft [1.2 m] divider) is recommended to accommodate a single left turn lane. For maintenance considerations in preventing recurring damage to the divider, the divider should be at least 2 ft [0.6 m]. If pedestrians are expected to cross the divider, then the divider should be a minimum of 5 ft [1.5 m] wide in order to accommodate a cut-though landing or refuge area that is at least 5 ft x 5 ft [1.5 m x 1.5 m] cut-through landing or refuge area. See Dual Left-Turn Lanes for additional median width discussion.

    Flush Medians. Flush medians are medians that can be traversed. Although a flush median does not permit left-turn and cross maneuvers, it does not prevent them because the median can be easily crossed. Therefore, for urban arterials where access control is desirable, flush medians should not be used.

    A flush median design should include the following:

  • delineation from through lanes using double yellow stripes and possibly a contrasting surface texture or color to provide visibility
  • flexibility to allow left turn bay storage if necessary.

Two-Way Left-Turn Lanes. Two-way left-turn lanes (TWLTL) are flush medians that may be used for left turns by traffic from either direction on the street. The TWLTL is appropriate where there is a high demand for mid-block left turns, such as areas with (or expected to experience) moderate or intense strip development. Used appropriately, the TWLTL design has improved the safety and operational characteristics of streets as demonstrated through reduced travel times and accident rates. The TWLTL design also offers added flexibility since, during spot maintenance activities, a travel lane may be barricaded with through traffic temporarily using the median lane.

Recommended median lane widths for the TWLTL design are as shown in Table 3-2. In applying these criteria on new location projects or on reconstruction projects where widening necessitates the removal of exterior curbs, the median lane width should not be less than 12 ft [3.6 m], and preferably the desirable value shown in Table 3-2. Minimum values shown in Table 3-2 are appropriate for restrictive right-of-way projects and improvement projects where attaining the desirable width would necessitate removing and replacing exterior curbing to gain only a small amount of roadway width.

Anchor: #i1063004Table 3-2: Median Lane Widths for Two-Way Left-Turn Lanes

(US Customary)

 

(Metric)

Design Speed

Mph

Width of TWLTL - ft

 

Design Speed

Km/h

Width of TWLTL – m

 

Desirable

Minimum

 

 

Desirable

Minimum

Less than or equal to 40

12 - 14

11

 

Less than or equal to 60

3.6 - 4.2

3.3

45 - 50

14

12

 

70 - 80

4.2

3.6

Greater than 50

16

14

 

Greater than 80

4.8

4.2



Criteria for the potential use of a TWLTL for urban streets are as follows:

  • future ADT volume of 3,000 vehicles per day for an existing two-lane urban street, 6,000 vehicles per day for an existing four-lane urban street, or 10,000 vehicles per day for an existing six-lane urban street
  • side road plus driveway density of 20 or more entrances per mile [12 or more entrances per kilometer].

When the above two conditions are met, the site should be considered suitable for the use of a TWLTL. For ADT volumes greater than 20,000 vehicle per day or where development is occurring, and volumes are increasing and are anticipated to reach this level, a raised median design should be considered. Seven-lane cross sections should be evaluated for pedestrian crossing capabilities.

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Median Openings

Openings should only be provided for street intersections or at intervals for major developed areas. Spacing between median openings must be adequate to allow for introduction of left-turn lanes and signal detection loops to operate without false calls. A directional opening can be used to limit the number and type of conflict. Figures 3-1 illustrates the different options for the design of a directional median opening.

Types of Directional Openings. Click here to
see a PDF of the image. (click in image to see full-size image) Anchor: #i1002981grtop

Figure 3-1. Types of Directional Openings. Click here to see a PDF of the image.

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Borders

The border, which accommodates sidewalks, provides sight distance, and utility accommodation, and separates traffic from privately owned areas, is the area between the roadway and right-of-way line. Every effort should be made to provide wide borders to serve functional needs, reduce traffic nuisances to adjacent development, and for aesthetics. Minimum and desirable border widths are as indicated in Table 3-1: Geometric Design Criteria for Urban Streets.

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Berms

There are two different types of berms typically used on urban streets. One type of berm is constructed as a narrow shelf or path. This type is typically used to provide a flush grade behind a curb to accommodate the possible future installation of sidewalks.

Another type of berm is constructed as a raised mound to facilitate drainage or for landscaping purposes. When this type of berm is constructed, it is desirable that the berm be placed outside of the clear zone. If this is not practical, care should be taken to ensure that the slopes and configurations used meet the horizontal clearance requirements as discussed in Slopes and Ditches in Chapter 2.

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Grade Separations and Interchanges

Although grade separations and interchanges are not often provided on urban streets, they may be the only means available for providing sufficient capacity at critical intersections. Normally, a grade separation is part of an interchange (except grade separations with railroads); it is usually the diamond type where there are four legs. Locations considered include high volume intersections and where terrain conditions favor separation of grades.

The entire roadway width of the approach, including parking lanes or shoulders if applicable, should be carried across or under the separation. Interchange design elements may have slightly lower dimensional values as compared to freeways due to the lower speeds involved. For example, diamond ramps may have lengths controlled by the minimum distance to overcome the elevation difference at suitable gradients.

In some instances, it may be feasible to provide grade separations or interchanges at all major crossings for a lengthy section of arterial street. In these cases, the street assumes the operating characteristics and appearance of a freeway. In this regard, where right-of-way availability permits, it may be appropriate to eliminate the relatively few crossings at-grade and control access by design (i.e., provide continuous frontage roads) in the interest of safety. It is not desirable, however, to intermix facility types by providing intermittent sections of fully controlled and non-controlled access facilities.

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Right-of-Way Width

The width of right-of-way for urban streets is influenced by the following factors:

  • traffic volume requirements
  • land use
  • availability and cost
  • extent of expansion.

Width is the summation of the various cross sectional elements, including widths of travel and turning lanes, shoulders or parking lanes, median, borders, and the area necessary to accommodate slopes and provide ramps or connecting roadways where interchanges are involved.

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Intersections

The number, design, and spacing of intersections influence the capacity, speed, and safety on urban streets. Capacity analysis of signalized intersections is one of the most important considerations in intersection design. Dimensional layout or geometric design considerations are closely influenced by traffic volumes and operational characteristics and the type of traffic control measures used.

Because of the space limitations and lower operating speeds on urban streets, curve radii for turning movements are less than for rural highway intersections. Curb radii of 15 ft [4.5 m] to 25 ft [7.5 m] permit passenger cars to negotiate right turns with little or no encroachment on other lanes. Where heavy volumes of trucks or buses are present, increased curb radii of 30 ft [9 m] to 50 ft [15 m] expedite turns to and from through lanes. Where combination tractor-trailer units are anticipated in significant volume, reference should be made to the material in Minimum Designs for Truck and Bus Turns, Chapter 7.

In general, intersection design should be rather simple, and free of complicated channelization, to minimize driver confusion. Sight distance is an important consideration even in the design of signalized intersections since, during the low volume hours, flashing operation may be used (see discussion in Intersection Sight Distance, Chapter 2).

Figure 3-2 illustrates lines of sight for a vehicle entering an intersection.

Entering Intersection Lines of Sight. Click here to
see a PDF of the image. (click in image to see full-size image) Anchor: #i1003043grtop

Figure 3-2. Entering Intersection Lines of Sight. Click here to see a PDF of the image.

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Speed Change Lanes

On urban arterial streets, speed change lanes generally provide space for the deceleration and possibly storage of turning vehicles. The length of speed change lanes for turning vehicles consists of the following two components:

  • deceleration length
  • storage length

Left-Turn Deceleration Lanes. Figure 3-3 illustrates the use of left-turn lanes on urban streets. A short symmetrical reverse curve taper or straight taper may be used. For median left-turn lanes, a minimum median width of 16 ft [4.8 m] (12 ft [3.6 m] lane width plus a 4 ft [1.2 m] divider) is recommended to accommodate a single left-turn lane. The absolute minimum median width is 14 ft [4.2 m]. Where dual left-turns are provided, a minimum median width of 28 ft. [8.5 m] is recommended (two 12 ft. (3.6 m] lanes plus a 4 ft. [1.2 m] divider). Where pedestrians may be present, the divider must be at least 5 ft. [1.5 m] wide, preferably at least 6 ft. [1.8 m]. Where a raised divider extends into the pedestrian cross-walk, a cut-through that is a minimum of 5 ft. x 5 ft. [1.5 m x 1.5 m] must be provided.

Left-Turn Lanes on Urban Streets. Click here to
see a PDF of the image. (click in image to see full-size image) Anchor: #i1003057grtop

Figure 3-3. Left-Turn Lanes on Urban Streets. Click here to see a PDF of the image.

Table 3-3 provides recommended taper lengths, deceleration lengths, and storage lengths for left-turn lanes. These guidelines may also be applied to the design of right-turn lanes.

Anchor: #CHDEEGHJTable 3-3: Lengths of Single Left-Turn Lanes on Urban Streets1

(US Customary)

Speed

(mph)

Deceleration Length2(ft)

Taper Length (ft)

Storage Length (ft)

 

-

 

Signalized

Non-Signalized

 

-

 

Calculated

Minimum4

Calculated5

Minimum4

30

160

50

See footnote 3

100

See footnote 5

100

35

215

50

See footnote 3

100

See footnote 5

100

40

275

50

See footnote 3

100

See footnote 5

100

45

345

100

See footnote 3

100

See footnote 5

100

50

425

100

See footnote 3

100

See footnote 5

100

55

510

100

See footnote 3

100

See footnote 5

100

(Metric)

Speed

(km/h)

Deceleration Length2 (m)

Taper Length (m)

Storage Length (m)

 

 

 

Signalized

Non-Signalized

 

 

 

Calculated

Minimum4

Calculated

Minimum4

50

50

15

See footnote 3

30

See footnote 5

30

60

65

15

See footnote 3

30

See footnote 5

30

70

85

30

See footnote 3

30

See footnote 5

30

80

105

30

See footnote 3

30

See footnote 5

30

90

130

30

See footnote 3

30

See footnote 5

30

1 The minimum length of a left-turn lane is the sum of the deceleration length plus queue storage. In order to determine the design length, the deceleration plus storage length must be calculated for peak and off-peak periods, the longest total length will be the minimum design length.

2 See Deceleration Length discussion immediately following Table 3-3.

3 See Storage Length Calculations discussion immediately following Table 3-3A.

4 The minimum storage length shall apply when: 1) the required queue storage length calculated is less than the minimum length, or 2) there is no rational method for estimating the left-turn volume.

5 The calculated queue storage at unsignalized location using a traffic model or simulation model or by the following:

L = (V/30)(2)(S)

where: (V/30) is the left-turn volume in a two-minute interval and other terms are as defined in the

Storage Length Calculations discussion immediately following Table 3-3A.



Deceleration Length. Deceleration length assumes that moderate deceleration will occur in the through traffic lane and the vehicle entering the left-turn lane will clear the through traffic lane at a speed of 10 mph (15 km/h) slower than through traffic. Where providing this deceleration length is impractical, it may be acceptable to allow turning vehicles to decelerate more than 10 mph (15km/h) before clearing the through traffic lane. See Table 3-3A.

Anchor: #i1063220Table 3-3A Deceleration Lengths for Speed Differentials Greater than 10 mph (15km/h)

US Customary (ft)

Metric (m)

Speed

Speed Differential*

Speed

Speed Differential*

(mph)

15 mph

20 mph

(km/h)

20 km/h

25km/h

30

110

75

50

40

35

35

160

110

60

60

50

40

215

160

70

75

65

45

275

215

80

95

85

50

345

275

90

115

105

55

425

345

 

 

 

* Speed differential = the difference between a turning vehicle when it clears the through traffic lane and speed of following through traffic. Clearance is considered to have occurred when the turning vehicle has moved laterally a sufficient distance (10 ft. [3m]) so that a following through vehicle can pass without encroaching upon the adjacent through lane.



Storage Length Calculations. The required storage may be obtained using an acceptable traffic model such as the latest version of the HCM software (HCS), SYNCHRO, or VISSIM or other acceptable simulation models. Where such model results have not been applied, the following may be used:

L = (V/N)(2)(S)

where:

  • L = storage length in feet (or meters)
  • V = left-turn volume per hour, vph
  • N = number of cycles
  • 2 = a factor that provides for storage of all left-turning vehicles on most cycles; a value of 1.8 may be acceptable on collector streets
  • S = queue storage length, in feet (or meters), per vehicle
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% of trucks

S (ft)

S (m)

<5

25

7.6

5-9

30

9.1

10-14

35

10.7

15-19

40

12.2



Dual Left-Turn Deceleration Lanes. For major signalized intersections where high peak hour left-turn volumes are expected, dual left-turn lanes should be considered. As with single left-turn lanes, dual left-turn lanes should desirably include length for deceleration, storage, and taper. Table 3-4 provides recommended lengths for dual left-turn lanes.

Anchor: #i1063316Table 3-4: Lengths of Dual Left-Turn Lanes on Urban Streets 1

(US Customary)

Speed

Deceleration

Taper

Storage Length (ft)

(mph)

Length2(ft)

Length (ft)

Calculated 3

Minimum4

30

160

100

See footnote 3

100

35

215

100

See footnote 3

100

40

275

100

See footnote 3

100

45

345

150

See footnote 3

100

50

425

150

See footnote 3

100

55

510

150

See footnote 3

100

Table 3-4: Lengths of Dual Left-Turn Lanes on Urban Streets

(Metric)

Speed

Deceleration

Taper

Storage Length (m)

(km/h)

Length2(m)

Length (m)

Calculated3

Minimum4

50

50

30

See footnote 3

30

60

65

30

See footnote 3

30

70

85

45

See footnote 3

30

80

105

45

See footnote 3

30

90

130

45

See footnote 3

30

See Table 3-3 for footnotes.



Right-Turn Acceleration Lanes. Acceleration lanes typically are not used on urban streets. See Section 5, Figure 3-10, for acceleration distances and taper lengths if an acceleration lane may be necessary.

Right-Turn Deceleration Lanes. Figure 3-4 illustrates a right-turn deceleration lane. The length of a single right-turn deceleration lane is the same as that for a single left-turn lane (see Table 3-3). However, the minimum queue storage is 30 ft for right-turn lanes. The length for a dual right-turn lane is the same as for a dual left-turn lane (see Table 3-4). Refer to the TxDOT Access Management Manual for guidelines as to when to consider a right-turn deceleration lane.

Lengths of Right-Turn Deceleration Lanes.
Click here to
see a PDF of the image. (click in image to see full-size image) Anchor: #i1007493grtop

Figure 3-4. Lengths of Right-Turn Deceleration Lanes. Click here to see a PDF of the image.

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Auxiliary Lanes on Crest Vertical Curves

When an intersection or driveway is located beyond the crest of a vertical curve, the designer should check the driver’s view of the left-turn or right-turn lane as they approach the beginning of the taper. It is suggested that this preview time be at least two seconds. An auxiliary lane that is longer than the deceleration distance plus queue storage length may be a consideration, if practical, in these situations.

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Horizontal Offsets

For low-speed streets, cross drainage culvert ends should be offset minimally 4 ft [1.2 m] from the back of curb or 4 ft [1.2 m] from outside edge of shoulder. The designer, however, should make the best use of available border width to obtain wide clearances. Sloped open ends may be used to effectively safety treat small culverts. Consideration should be given to future sidewalk needs.

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Bus Facilities

Urban areas benefit from the effective bus utilization of downtown and radial arterial streets, and from the effective coordination of transit and traffic improvements. To maintain and increase bus patronage, bus priority treatments on arterial streets may be used to underscore the importance of transit use. Possible bus priority treatments on non-controlled access facilities include measures designed to separate car and bus movements and general traffic engineering improvements designed to expedite overall traffic flow.

This subsection includes the following topics:

  • bus lanes
  • bus streets

Bus Lanes

Bus lanes are usually used exclusively by buses; however, in some instances carpools, taxis, or turning vehicles may share the lane. They may be located along curbs or in street medians and may operate with, or counter to, automobile flow. For more information on bus lanes, see St. Jacques, Kevin and Herbert S. Levinson. Operational Analysis of Bus Lanes on Arterials, TCRP Report 26, TRB, National Research Council, Washington, DC (1997).

Curb Bus Lanes (Normal Flow). Curb bus lanes in the normal direction flow are usually in effect only during the peak periods. They are usually implemented in conjunction with removal of curb parking so that there is little adverse effect on existing street capacity. This type of operation may be difficult to enforce and may produce only marginal benefits to bus flow. In operation, right-turning vehicles conflict with buses.

Median Bus Lanes. Median bus lanes generally are in effect throughout the day. Wide medians are required to provide refuge for bus patrons, and passengers are required to cross active street lanes to reach bus stops. Additionally, left-turn traffic must be prohibited or controlled to minimize interference between transportation modes.

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Bus Streets

Reserving entire streets for the exclusive use of buses represents a major commitment to transit and generally is not feasible due to adverse effects on abutting properties and businesses, including parking garages or lots, drive-in banks, etc.

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