New NACTO Design Guide: Don’t Give Up at the Intersection

June 17, 2019

Last month, the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) released a new design guide summarizing best practices to enhance safety at intersections, “Don’t Give Up at the Intersection: Designing All Ages and Abilities Bicycle Crossings.” Since NACTO released its innovative Urban Bikeway Design Guide in 2011, North American cities have expanded protected bikeway networks by 600%, creating a substantial opportunity for increased bicycling in cities.

However, safety at intersections remains a critical issue. In 2017, 43% of urban bicyclist fatalities occurred at intersections (FARS)Don’t Give Up at the Intersection provides intersection safety design guidance by focusing on three strategies to make walking and biking more comfortable for roadway users of all ages and abilities:

  • reduce turning speeds,

  • increase visibility of people bicycling, and

  • give priority at intersections to people bicycling.

According to the 40-page guide, these goals can be accomplished through a variety of objectives depending on street context. These objectives include: designing separated bike intersections, dedicated bike intersections, and minor street intersection redesigns. All three design objectives seek to reduce turn speeds and mitigate conflicts between roadway users. Turning radii can be reduced and overall intersection visibility improved by increasing bike setback distance, recessing stop bar distance for motorists, implementing bike-friendly signal phasing, and using raised elements to keep speeds low.

Planners and civic engineers are encouraged to use the new design guide in conjunction with NACTO’s Urban Bikeway Design Guide and Designing for All Ages and Abilities to build safe, connected, and comfortable bike networks.

Image shows a family biking at a protected, separated intersection for bicyclists.