A transportation corridor communicates many things to its users through its design elements. What it communicates can affect the travel mode a user decides to take, the speed at which a motorist decides to drive, whether a pedestrian will walk along or across a street, and whether a resident will bicycle to local shops. Design elements give visual cues to the users of transportation corridors that let them know where they are and how to behave. The vehicle lane widths, presence or absence of sidewalks, and presence or absence of buffering elements such as street trees and parked cars all influence a user’s perceptions and resulting behavior responses. Is it safe and pleasant to walk here? Can I safely cross the street? Can I drive fast here, or should I slow down?
Although a main focus of the State Highway System is to meet state and regional goals of moving vehicular traffic at a high level of service (LOS), over time it has become apparent that the existing roadway designs and standards often conflict and miss opportunities to partner with local communities to meet local, regional, and state needs and goals. Within the planning and transportation fields, research on the safety impacts of street design elements, such as narrower vehicle lane widths, parked cars, street trees, bicycle lanes, and wider sidewalks has been conducted, and models of ideal “main streets” have been developed. However, no comprehensive defensible performance measures exist for assessing the safety, health, economic, and quality of life effects of corridor design elements. This research project aims to provide such measures.