Evaluation of Safety, Design, and Operation of Shared-Use Paths (Final Report)

Shared paths are paved, off-road facilities designed for travel by a variety of nonmotorized users, including bicyclists, pedestrians, skaters, joggers, and others. Shared-path planners and designers face a serious challenge in determining how wide paths should be and whether the various modes of travel should be separated from each other.

by Federal Highway Administration

This document describes the development of a new method to analyze the quality of service provided by shared paths of various widths and the accommodation of various travel-mode splits. The researchers assembled the new method using new theoretical traffic-flow concepts, a large set of operational data from 15 paths in 10 cities across the United States, and the perceptions of more than 100 path users. Given a count or estimate of the overall path user volume in the design-hour, the new method described here can provide the level of service for path widths from 2.44 to 6.1 meters (8 to 20 feet).

The information in this document should be of interest to planners, engineers, parks and recreation professionals, and to others involved in the planning, design, operation, and/or maintenance of shared paths. In addition, this document will be of interest to researchers investigating how to analyze multiple modes of travelers in a finite space with minimal traffic control. This document describes a spreadsheet calculation tool called SUPLOS that was also developed as part of the same effort, and this tool is being circulated by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

About the Author


The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), part of the US Department of Transportation, provides expertise, resources, and information to improve the nation's highway system and its intermodal connections. The Federal-Aid Highway Program provides financial assistance to the States to construct and improve the National Highway System, other roads, bridges, and trails.

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