How to Make Roadways Safe for Bicyclists and Pedestrians

man on a bike in the street

Complete Streets and Tactical Urbanism

Driving is no longer the only way to get around, but many streets in the United States are built for cars and cars alone. The “complete streets” movement aims to correct this – opening up roadways for bicyclists and pedestrians and reducing the number of deadly bicycle and pedestrian accidents.

Expanding and improving infrastructure makes bicycling and walking viable modes of travel and keeps bicyclists and pedestrians safe. Roadways can be redesigned or reallocated to host vehicle traffic, bike lanes, and sidewalks. Sometimes, a simple safety cone can make a roadway much safer.

Infrastructure that can help support complete streets includes:

  • Bicycle lanes
  • Bicycle parking and storage facilities
  • Intersection treatments for bicycles (bike boxes, stop bars, lead signal indicators)
  • Sidewalks (especially larger, wider sidewalks)
  • Separation/ buffers between cars and bike lanes/sidewalks
  • Curb extensions
  • Paved shoulders
  • Traffic islands and landscaping
  • Shared-lane markings
  • High-visibility signage
  • Pedestrian crossings and mid-block crossings
  • Improved lighting
  • Trails or shared-use paths
  • And more

While many of these tactics can be implemented when a street is first being designed or during high-profile redesigns, large-scale, permanent change is not the only way to make roads safer for bicyclists and pedestrians.

What Is Tactical Urbanism?

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a glowing example of tactical urbanism at its finest. Tactical urbanism refers to low-cost, temporary changes designed to serve the changing needs of a community. During the pandemic, many cities have opened up their streets to bicyclists and pedestrians. Some cities have done this by temporarily closing some roads. Others have indicated “safe zones” with a few cones, signage, and barricades.

Another great example of tactical urbanism is installing planters between the street and bike lanes to shield bicyclists from speeding cars.

While temporary in nature, tactical urbanism can easily become permanent. Sometimes, a quick fix is effective and can be adopted as a long-term solution.

Making Roads Work

Traffic engineers have spent lifetimes making roads work for motor vehicles. Now, roads need to work for cars, pedestrians, bicyclists, and even public transit options.

This is a new challenge, but it is not impossible. One traffic engineer explains just how much difference a “complete street” can make on a community. When people walk and bike more often – and feel safe doing so – urban areas come to life. Increased foot traffic opens opportunities for dining, window shopping, and more.

Additionally, when people can access their communities without getting in a vehicle, they have a greater sense of belonging and wellbeing. Having pedestrian and bicycle-friendly streets can make communities more livable – even for people who primarily drive and never set foot on a bicycle.


Change can be difficult, but it is possible – and may even be easy to do. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us how our streets can adapt to our needs.

Nevertheless, there is a long way to go until roadways are safe and functional for bicyclists and pedestrians. If you are harmed by a negligent driver in the meantime, Casey Law Offices, S.C. is here for you.

We take bicycle and pedestrian accidents seriously, and we have more than 25 years of experience helping victims recover.

Call us at (414) 272-5564 or contact us online to discuss your case during a free consultation.

We are available 24/7 and ready to help you move forward.

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