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DelDOT continues its efforts to improve pedestrian safety through road dieting

Quinn Kirkpatrick
Delaware Public Media

Road dieting is a roadway reconfiguration that removes, narrows, or repurposes travel lanes to help calm traffic and increase walkability.

It's one of many tactics DelDOT is using to decrease pedestrian injury and fatality in its “Pedestrian Action Plan.”

They’re currently looking at areas with four or more lanes as possible targets for road diet implementation.

DelDOT’s C.R. McLeod says these roads don’t reflect the current needs of residential communities.

“We were so automobile focused, and focused on getting people from place to place in their cars as fast as possible for decades. And the consequences of that were increased crashes with vehicles, increased pedestrian and bicyclists fatalities. And really a degradation of communities because you had these large roads with vehicles traveling at high speeds in residential areas,” he explained.

Data from the US Department of Transportation shows road dieting leading to more consistent speeds and a significant reduction in crashes.

But road dieting often faces opposition from residents worried about increased travel times, disruption of services like trash pick-up, and construction timelines.

That’s why for the latest road dieting project on Wilmington’s Baynard Boulevard, DelDOT is conducting a pop-up demonstration before completing the final design.

“Just by using temporary paint and barrels, things like that, we’re actually able to show what it would look like if we added a bike lane to the road, and reduced traffic down to a single lane in each direction. And then having people actually navigate it gives more of a perspective on what we’re trying to accomplish,” said McLeod.

That pop-up starts this week and lasts through the end of the year. DelDOT will study the area during this time to determine if it's a good fit, and make necessary adjustments.

Residents will also be given the chance to give feedback.

Quinn Kirkpatrick was born and raised in Wilmington, Delaware and graduated of the University of Delaware. She joined Delaware Public Media in June 2021