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FHWA Highway Safety Programs

3: Selecting and Implementing Countermeasures

3.1 Selecting Countermeasures

Selecting the appropriate countermeasures to address non-motorized safety on rural roads can be a challenge. Countermeasures should address specific infrastructure and behavioral safety concerns identified through an analysis of data, information obtained through field assessments, and stakeholder input. If needed, assistance on effective countermeasure selection may be obtained from State DOTs or by contacting the appropriate LTAP Center.

Listed below are some important considerations when selecting countermeasures:

  1. The extent of the problem (spot location, corridor, or network). If the problem is at a spot location, countermeasure selection will be focused on the specific locational issues, such as installing a marked crosswalk with appropriate advance signage at a crossing that generates high volume of non-motorized users. For corridor or network areas, countermeasures that address common crash or infrastructure type may be selected to systematically address the risk.
  2. The safety of all roadway users. Projects to improve the safety of motorized users offer an excellent opportunity to address non-motorized safety, as well. These projects may be intended to address a safety concern of motorized traffic or could involve programmed maintenance projects, such as resurfacing. Selecting countermeasures that are compatible with the existing project can help an agency to overcome funding challenges for non-motorized safety projects and enable it to address the non-motorized safety issue.
  3. Proposed countermeasures must be appropriate for the roadway conditions and the environment. Although a countermeasure can address a given safety issue, it may not be appropriate when environmental issues are considered. For example, a marked crossing may be appropriate on a two-lane rural road through a rural village, where vehicle speeds are relatively lower, but probably will not be appropriate on a two-lane section of road through an undeveloped area where vehicles speeds are relatively high and motorists' expectancy of encountering a crossing is low unless other measures are included as well.
  4. Behavoral considerations. Addressing the safety of non-motorized users requires a coordinated application of countermeasures consisting of the 4 E's of safety, when appropriate. Consideration should be given to the causes of the safety issue—if it is behavior (speeding), then behavioral countermeasures need to be employed.
  5. The ability to apply countermeasures in stages. Selecting countermeasures that can be implemented in near, mid, and long range timeframes provides opportunities for the immediate implementation of some countermeasures to address certain safety issues before longer-range measures are implemented. Many engineering measures require a greater investment and more time to implement; therefore, deploying short-term measures, such as improved signage and pavement markings, supplemented with education and enforcement efforts may improve safety until the more costly engineering measures can be constructed.

Some examples of countermeasures for addressing non-motorized safety on local rural roads are presented for all 4 E's.


Engineering measures to improve non-motorized safety on local rural roads are designed to perform one of the following functions:(22)

  1. Eliminate conflicts between motorized and non-motorized users.
  2. Reduce the potential for a conflict.
  3. Reduce the severity of a conflict.

Conflicts may occur when motorized and non-motorized users cross paths, such as at intersections, or are on parallel paths, such as traveling along the same road. Eliminating conflicts between motorized and non-motorized users may provide the greatest benefit to non-motorized users but may not be feasible due to right-of-way or funding constraints. A typical countermeasure that eliminates conflicts between motorized and non-motorized users is a separated shared use path. When conflicts cannot be eliminated, measures to reduce the potential for a conflict between motorized and non-motorized users should be considered. These measures include employing signage to alert motorists of the presence of a crossing utilized by non-motorized users or providing separated space along the roadway. The severity of a conflict can be reduced through the control of speeds through signage or changes to the physical character of the roadway. Countermeasures that reduce the potential of a conflict and those that reduce the severity of a conflict can be deployed simultaneously to enhance safety. The engineering countermeasures are presented in three sections:

  • Addressing safety at point locations (i.e.,at crossings).
  • Addressing safety along corridors.
  • Addressing speeding.

Addressing Safety at Point Locations (Crossings)

A crossing is an obvious point of potential conflict between road users. Short-range measures can be implemented before longer-range countermeasures are deployed at crossings. Traffic control devices (e.g., signs and beacons) can be deployed quickly at and often in advance of a crossing to inform motorists and non-motorized users alike of the presence of a crossing and the potential for conflict. The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) provides guidance on applicable traffic control devices that can be used at non-motorized crossings. The MUTCD also describes pavement markings that can be used for non-motorized crossings or crosswalks. Selection of the appropriate traffic control devices and pavement markings to address non-motorized safety is dependent on several factors, including non-motorized volume, vehicle speed, traffic volume, and crossing distance. For example, in rural areas it may not always be advisable to "mark" a crosswalk. Table 5 contains information from a study conducted by FHWA providing guidance regarding appropriate conditions for marking a crosswalk based on the number of lanes, vehicle ADT, and posted speed.(23) For example, a two-lane roadway with an ADT of 4,500 vpd and a speed limit of 40 mph may be a possible candidate for a marked crossing, but it would be preferable (noted as "P" in the table) to include other treatments in combination with the marked crossing, such as a pedestrian knockdown sign or a pedestrian hybrid beacon. In rural areas, crosswalks are typically only applied on low-speed roadways (i.e., those with a posted speed limit of 40 mph or less).

"Photo.  A pedestrian knock-down sign."

In-Street Pedestrian Crossing Sign.

"Photo.  A pedestrian hybrid beacon.  The device consists of three signal sections, with a yellow signal head centered below two horizontally aligned red signal heads.  "

Pedestrian hybrid beacon (Source: FHWA Proven Safety Countermeasures).

Table 5. Crosswalk Marking Guidance for Roadways < 9,000 vpd (from Zegeer et al., 2005).

Roadway Type
(Number of Travel Lanes and Median Type)
Speed Limit
<30 mph 35 mph 40 mph
2 Lanes C C P
3 Lanes C C P
Multilane (4 or More Lanes) With Raised Median C C P
Multilane (4 or More Lanes) Without Raised Median C P N
C = Candidate site for marked cross­walks.
P = Possible increase in pedestrian crash risk may occur if crosswalk markings are added without other pedestrian facility enhancements.
N = Marked crosswalks alone are insuf­ficient, and pedestrian crash risk may increase when providing marked crosswalks alone. Con­sider using other treatments, such as traffic signals with pedestrian signals where warranted or other substantial crossing improvements to increase crossing safety.

Other treatments that can be used to enhance a crossing are described in Table 9 in Appendix A.

Addressing Safety Along Roadways

Countermeasures that address non-motorized safety along roadways are generally directed where motorized and non-motorized users share the roadway. A lack of dedicated space for non-motorized users is typically encountered in rural, undeveloped areas. Short-range countermeasures that can be applied include signing to alert motorists of the presence of non-motorized users. For example, a SHARE THE ROAD plaque can be used in conjunction with a warning sign to alert drivers of the presense of a particular mode (e.g., bicycles or horse-drawn vehicles). The MUTCD provides guidance on applicable signs that can be used along roadways for non-motorized users that is incorporated throughout the document. Some examples of sections that apply to non-motorized use are sections 2C.49, 2C.60, 5C.09 7B.08, and 9B.01.

Engineering measures to address a lack of dedicated space for non-motorized users include restriping space for non-motorized users on the roadway (if pavement width is adequate), creating or widening paved shoulders, or creating a separated parallel path for non-motorized users. While creating or widening shoulders will have safety benefits for motorized and non-motorized traffic alike, it may be more economically feasible to construct a separated, parallel shared use path for pedestrians and bicyclists. shared use paths, which are designed to carry lighter loads, cost less to construct than shoulders that are designed for heavy loads.

"Photos.  Two photos showing an existing road and potential improvements.  The photo on the left shows an existing two-lane highway with wide lanes." ""Photos.  Two photos showing an existing road and potential improvements.  The photo on the right shows the two lane roadway with narrowed lanes and shoulders, a grass buffer, and a separated path.

"Roadway characteristics such as the absence of sidewalks, higher traffic volume, higher vehicle speed, and smaller width of unpaved shoulder increase the likelihood that a walking-along-roadway pedestrian crash will occur."(24) It may be more economically feasible to construct a separated parallel path for pedestrians and bicyclists, which are designed to carry lighter loads, than shoulders designed for heavy loads.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) July 10, 2008 Guidance Memorandum on Consideration and Implementation of Proven Safety Countermeasures offers guidance for the application of shoulders.(25) For rural highways in less developed areas that have occasional pedestrian traffic, walkable shoulders of at least four feet are recommended on both sides of the roadway.

"Photo.  A photo of a rumble stripe, which is a narrow rumble strip that is overtop the roadway edgeline pavement marking that separates the travel lane from the shoulder.  "

The rumble stripe shown is combined with the edge line pavement marking allowing space on the shoulder for non-motorized use.
(Photo courtesy of

The New York State DOT (NYSDOT) has implemented a policy to make shoulders walkable. In order to address the requirement to give pedestrians full consideration on all Federal-aid projects, the NYSDOT Highway Design Manual specifies that shoulders should be designed to be pedestrian friendly when acting as a pedestrian facility. The NYSDOT manual states that, when pedestrian facilities are warranted, the preferred facility for pedestrian travel along a road is a sidewalk.(26) However, when it is necessary to design shoulders as walkways, the following questions should be considered:

  • Is it practical for pedestrians to walk facing traffic?
  • Are pedestrians able to safely cross the road?
  • If one of the above conditions cannot be met, then provisions for pedestrians to walk in either direction along one side of the road should be considered.

NYSDOT policy also states that if shoulders are designed for pedestrians to walk facing traffic, then they should have a minimum width of four feet and should be accompanied by pedestrian crossings in order to provide access to the opposite side of the roadway. Shoulders that are designed for pedestrians to walk in either direction should have a minimum width of five feet.

Rural areas with existing shoulders are often used to accommodate non-motorized travel. To improve safety for a run off the road vehicle, many States have adopted policy on edgeline rumble strips and rumble stripes. These features can have an adverse effect on non-motorized travel, specifically bicyclists and horse-and-buggies. FHWA's rumble strip polices affect shoulder, edgeline, and centerline rumble strip use.(27) Some of the recommendations include using continuous, milled centerline, edgeline, and shoulder rumble strips; the addition of a four-foot paved shoulder to extend beyond the rumble strip; and considering all road users and the potential effects that rumble strips may have on them. The Virginia DOT's policy specifies that an intermittent shoulder rumble strip should be used to provide accessibility to bicyclists.

An intermittent pattern provides 12-foot gaps between 48-foot sections of rumble strips for bicyclists to maneuver and leave the shoulder (e.g., to make a turn). A minimum four-foot shoulder outside of the rumble strip is provided. If high volumes of bicycle or horse-drawn vehicle traffic are present or expected, a minimum of five-foot paved shoulder outside of the rumble strip is desirable. This is particularly needed if there are objects close to the roadway edge, such as guardrail. When roadway grades exceed 6 percent, the gaps are increased to 16 feet. By helping to prevent shoulder encroachments, edgeline rumbles strips can prevent crashes between motorized and non-motorized users. Additional details, as well as other treatments that can be used to enhance non-motorized travel along a local rural road, are described in Table 10 in Appendix A.

Addressing Speeding

Speeding affects the severity of motorized/non-motorized crashes. Controlling speeding through small, rural villages—where non-motorized travel may be frequent—may be a priority for a community. The area where drivers are expected to reduce speeds from the rural, undeveloped section of the roadway to the developed area is known as the "transition zone" (see Figure 8). The objective of a transition zone is for vehicle speed to be reduced to the point where the lower speed limit is reached upon entering the village. For this to be effective, this may require the following:

  • Treatments in advance of the transition zone, called the "approach zone" (see Figure 8), to warn motorists of the downstream speed reduction. Warning signs are typical measures used in the approach zone.
  • Physical measures to further reduce the speed of entering motorized vehicles in the transition zone. Typical measures used in the transition zone may include narrowing of roads, roundabouts, road diets (reducing the number of through lanes), curb extensions, raised medians, and gateway treatments.
  • Additional measures in the developed area or rural village to sustain the lower speed.(28)

The speed reduction measures applied to a village are referred to as "traffic calming," which is defined as "the combination of mainly physical measures that reduce the negative effects of motor vehicle use, alter driver behavior, and improve conditions for non-motorized street users."(29) Traffic calming encourages self-enforcing, slower, and more uniform vehicle speeds. Traffic calming measures are typically applied on low-speed roadways (i.e., those with a posted speed limit of 40 mph or less) in "urbanized areas." Caution should be used when using traffic calming devices because they are not applicable on all types of roadways and may in fact increase crashes on some rural roads. Listed in Appendix A are several resources that can be consulted that address speeding in rural communities.

"Addressing speed through law enforcement alone often leads to temporary compliance at a significant cost. A more permanent way to reinforce the need to reduce speed is to change the look and feel of the road by installing traffic calming treatments that communicate to drivers that the function of the roadway is changing."

FHWA TechBrief: Traffic Calming on Main Roads Through Rural Communities (

"Graphic.  The graphic depicts measures to reduce speeds in a rural environment.  Shown on the graphic are the roadways and corresponding zones in a rural region.  The zones range from a rural village, to a transition zone, to an approach zone, to a rural area.  In the rural area with a high speed limit, and in the approach zone, some of the measures to reduce speeds include warning measures such as converging chevrons, optical speed bars, colored pavement, and advanced signing.  In the transition zone some measures include road narrowing, raised medians, stepped-down speed limits.  In the rural village additional measures can be used to manage speed in the settled area."

Figure 8. Transition Zone and Approaching Zone Concept (Derived from NCHRP Synthesis 412).(28)

Examples of approach and transition zone speed reduction measures that are applicable to rural local roads are shown in Table 10 in Appendix A. Many of these treatments can be tested through the use of temporary measures (e.g., cones or delineators) to assess the real-time effectiveness before full-scale implementation of a measure.

Appendix A has a more comprehensive list of countermeasures, highlighting description, application, cost for implementation and crash modification factor (CMF), when appropriate. A CMF is a multiplicative factor used to determine the expected change in the number of crashes after implementing a specific countermeasure at a specific site. Appendix B offers resources with countermeasures that address non-motorized safety issues and should be consulted when considering safety treatments. An engineer from the county, State DOT, or LTAP Center should be consulted when selecting and/or implementing engineering countermeasures.


Education and public outreach can be quickly implemented to improve non-motorized safety. Public outreach campaigns targeting unsafe behaviors and other issues can increase public awareness of non-motorized safety. Education efforts that inform and reinforce safe and proper roadway use for motorized and non-motorized users may help create a safer environment. Driver education courses used to teach new drivers about safe and legal motor vehicle operation can also be used to discuss situational behaviors when encountering non-motorized users. Similarly, bicycling courses also teach children and adults about safe and legal riding practices. Potential methods of transferring this information include the following:

  • Hands-on training or presentations at community events, faith-based gatherings, and through other local organizations.
  • Postings on the internet, brochures at public gatherings and other venues, and other local media.
  • School-based education programs directed at students.

These events can be programmed on a local community or non-motorized safety calendar. The following are key messages that address behaviors contributing to crashes in rural areas and can be communicated as part of an education program:

  • Do not speed – The potential severity of a crash relates directly to vehicle speed. Speed also affects the ability of motorists and non-motorized users to make eye contact and establish intent and the ability to prevent a crash by stopping before impact.
  • Watch for non-motorized users – Motorists should be aware that non-motorized users may be traveling along the roadway or crossing the roadway and have the ability to react safely to such a situation.
  • Walk facing traffic – A Study of Fatal Pedestrian Crashes in Florida demonstrates that the likelihood of a crash is reduced by a factor of between 1.5 to 4 times when walking facing traffic. Ther research reveals a disproportionate ratio of "pedestrian walking along the roadway" crashes involve pedestrians walking with traffic (approximately 3 to 1).
  • Bike in the direction of vehicle travel (i.e., on the right side of the road)–Cyclists may contribute to crashes by riding the wrong-way (against traffic). The Hunter et al. study shows that nearly one-third (32 percent) of all cyclist collisions in a national study were associated with riding against traffic; for intersection collisions, the proportion was 42 percent.

NCHRP Report 622: Effectiveness of Behavioral Highway Safety Countermeasures provides a thorough description of countermeasures that may help to address behavioral concerns.

  • Wear retroreflective clothing or use a light –Walking during periods of darkness increases the risk of fatality by about seven times. Even when wearing brightly colored clothes, visibility at night without lighting or reflective materials often does not allow enough time to be seen by a driver, especially at higher speeds.(30)
  • Do not drive/bike/walk distracted –The attention of allroadway users should be on the road. Studies indicate that driving while drowsy increases a driver's crash or near-crash risk by four to six times. Complex secondary tasks—those tasks that involve multiple glances away from the road or multiple button presses—increase crash risk by three times. Moderate secondary tasks—those tasks that involve less than two glances away from the road or two button presses—increase crash risk by two times that of baseline driving.(31) These distracted behaviors may also be a targeted enforcement area in some States.

Several agencies provide educational materials for non-motorized user's safety, including those listed below:

  • The National Center for Safe Routes to School guide Teaching Children to Walk Safely as they Grow and Develop. This guide provides information to help parents and caregivers understand how children learn, along with resources to teach them pedestrian safety skills.(32)
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA's) various pedestrian and bicycle safety materials for adult English language learners, including the Walk and Bike Safely Student Workbook. The materials are split into beginner and intermediate levels and include a teacher's guide, adult workbooks, and video and audio clips.(33)
  • Stepping Out is educational material created by NHTSA and is aimed at older adults. The materials include a Web site and printable brochure.(34)
  • The FHWA Bicycle Safety Educational Resource Center provides a guidebook for creating your own bicycle safety program and a database of bicycle safety resource materials.(35)

Education efforts are more effective in changing behavior when they are conducted in conjunction with law enforcement strategies.


Laws are intended to govern the operation of the roadway by all road users. Enforcing the "rules of the road" can help to create a safer environment for all road users. Effective enforcement begins with education strategies to inform both law enforcement officials and the general public of the rights and responsibilities of all roadway users, specifically as they relate to non-motorized users. As part of an enforcement effort, the University of New Mexico created a brochure highlighting those statutes related to pedestrian safety.(36) The basic traffic laws that govern the interactions between motorized and non-motorized users can be found in the Uniform Vehicle Code (UVC), which most States have adopted in whole or in part.

"Photo.  An adult school crossing guard stops traffic on a two-lane road though a rural community to allow children to safely cross the street."

An adult school crossing guard stops traffic on a two-lane road though a rural community to allow children to safely cross the street.

Staffing and funding constraints may limit the ability of a rural law enforcement agency to provide comprehensive or sustained enforcement strategies. For this reason, enforcement efforts should target the following:

  • Specific, frequent, or high-risk behaviors identified as a safety concern.
  • Vehicle speeds at times when traffic conditions are critical (e.g., school start and dismissal in active school zones or weekends in recreational areas), especially on high-speed roads, to encourage safe behavior among motorized users.

Law enforcement officers should be engaged throughout the process of addressing safety. They can provide a critical assessment of safety issues, have a good understanding of the potential positive and negative effects of countermeasures, implement enforcement campaigns, and are good educators of traffic safety practices. Strategies to support the efforts of law enforcement include the following:

  • Training adult school crossing guards to control potentially conflicting vehicular and pedestrian or cyclist traffic.
  • Deploying speed trailers and speed feedback signs to control the speed of motorized vehicles in active non-motorized areas where speeds are excessive.

Emergency Medical Services

The remote nature of many rural communities, coupled with low density of medical facilities, plays a major role in limiting the ability to provide timely medical treatment to people injured in a crash. The "golden hour" is defined as the window of time in which the lives of the majority of critically injured trauma patients can be saved, if definitive treatment is provided. This window of time is 60 minutes from the moment of injury through life-saving medical procedures. Factors contributing to response time include the ability of others to identify a crash and to notify emergency personnel, the ability of emergency personnel to quickly respond to the scene, and the ability to quickly transport each victim to a trauma center. Strategies to improve emergency medical services' ability to respond should be considered. This may include improving cell phone coverage (for notification), along with global positioning system (GPS) assisted cell phone location. Emergency services personnel should be engaged throughout the process of addressing safety.

3.2 Examples of Countermeasure Selection on Rural Roads

This section illustrates potential methods of addressing non-motorized safety in rural areas. Three rural example scenarios are described, including conditions, issues, and potential countermeasures (from Tables 8, 9 and 10) that can be implemented. Short-range measures can be applied to address an issue so that improvements can be quickly realized. Intermediate or long-range improvements can be implemented as funding or other project opportunities become available.

Example 1: High Speeds in an Active Pedestrian / Bicycle Zone: Addressing Issues at Spot Locations and Short Corridors

A straight rural road with no shoulder and a posted speed of 45 mph enters an area active with pedestrians and cyclists. This area has a posted speed of 35 mph. Adjacent to the roadway is a school, and across the street is a park. There is information indicating some motorists are traveling 55 mph through the 35 mph zone. There are few gaps in traffic during student drop-off and pick-up at the school. Some children from nearby residences walk along the road to and from school.

"Photo.  A rural two-lane  road with no shoulder .  Two pedestrians walk on the far left, facing traffic.  An on-coming vehicle has to encroach on the opposite travel lane to avoid the pedestrians."

Rural road with no shoulder entering an area with pedestrian/bicycle activity.

Short-range measurescan be implemented rather quickly at this type of location and can have an immediate positive effect.

  • Utilize a school crossing guard during the peak period of pedestrian and bicycle activity. States and often local jurisdictions may have a crossing guard course in which volunteers may learn how to create gaps for children to cross the road safely.
  • Conduct targeted enforcement in the 35 mph zone to reduce motorist speeds during the peak period of non-motorized activity.
  • Install Reduced Speed Limit Ahead signs and post the speed zone signs on both sides of the road.
  • Install pedestrian warning signs in the built-up, residential zone (see Table 9).
  • Educate students on safe walking, bicycling, and crossing practices.
  • Provide safe riding and driver safety tips on various local Web sites and articles in various media outlets.

Mid-range measures should beimplemented to help create a lasting effect on non-motorized safety, as it may be difficult to sustain the short-range enforcement of the speed zone.

  • Install solar-powered school zone flashers that are activated during school start and dismissal periods to manage motorized vehicle speeds (see Table 9).
  • Install roadway (or transverse) rumble strips to alert motorists of the reduced speed zone if previous measures are not effective.

Long-range measures can be applied to help change the nature of the roadway in the area with high non-motorized activity, which should alert motorists that conditions have changed and to reduce speed.

  • Construct a shared use path parallel to the roadway that serves children from neighboring residential areas who walk or ride to and from school (see Table 8). Areas where pedestrian activity and cycling activity are high would potentially generate multiple street crossings, and non-motorized users would benefit from separated space from motorized users and the promoting of walking against traffic/riding with traffic.
  • Install gateway treatments to encourage slower motorized-vehicle speeds and increase driver expectancy of pedestrians and bicyclists in the area (see Table 10).

Example 2: Rural Road with Shared-Use Path / Shoulder: Corridor through a Rural Village

"Photo.  A pedestrian walking with the flow of traffic along the shared use shoulder."

A pedestrian walking with the flow of traffic along the shoulder.

A shared use path becomes a roadway shoulder along a half-mile stretch of two-lane roadway through a rural community that attracts seasonal visitors. The path and shoulder are intended for shared use by pedestrians, cyclists, and in-line skaters. Safety issues contributing to conflicts between all road users include the following:

  • Frequent wrong-way facility use (i.e., pedestrians walking with traffic and cyclists riding against traffic).
  • A lack of separation between modes due to limited available width of the shoulder.
  • Frequent midblock pedestrian crossings.
  • Inconspicuous crossing locations.

"Graphics.  Two graphics showing bicycle signage and pavement markings.  On the left are two signs – the top sign is a red wrong way sign with a bicycle and below it is a black and white sign that states “Ride with traffic.”  On the right are pavement markings for a bike lane showing a bicycle with an arrow indicating the correct direction of travel."

Bicycle signage and pavement markings.

The following countermeasures can be applied to improve safety:

Short-range measures can also affect behavior. Restriping crossings based on pedestrian desire lines can be very effective; however, these locations should be evaluated to determine safety.

  • Educate the population about correct biking and walking practices (e.g., the directional use of shoulders) through community publications, Web sites, and bulletins.
  • Install signing and pavement markings to reinforce the correct direction of travel for cyclists (see Table 8).
  • Study desire line crossing locations to ensure crossings are placed in the safest possible locations that meet crossing demand.
  • Restripe existing crossings / stripe new crossings with retro-reflective material after desire lines have been studied (see Table 9).

Mid-range and long-range measures that separate pedestrian and bicyclist traffic will prove to be the most effective given the user volumes and the fact that much of the population consists of tourists who may be more difficult to reach through education measures.

  • Install raised medians at high-conflict crossings to provide a refuge for pedestrians, pedestrian warning signs with flashing beacons, or a combination thereof (see Table 9).


  • Install sidewalks along the roadway (creating a road cross section consisting of adequate sidewalks, bike lanes, and narrow vehicle lanes (see Table 8)).

Example 3: Rural Road without Shoulders: Addressing Network-Wide Issues

Most rural roads in a county lack paved or graded shoulders. Bicyclists, pedestrians, and farm vehicles all share the travel lane with motor vehicles, resulting in large speed differentials and increased exposure for the slower roadway users.

"Photo.  A rural two-lane road with no shoulder."

A rural road where there is no shoulder.

There are several measures that can be applied at this typical location. 


  • Determine primary travel routes or primary routes of concern for non-motorized users. Apply the measures described below to these routes.
  • Mow and grade unpaved shoulders facilitating pedestrian travel.
  • Install Share the Road plaques in conjunction with warning signs to alert motorists of the presence of non-motorized users (see Table 8). Consider sign placement as follows:
    • Near major routes where there are a higher volumes of entering traffic.
    • At locations where sight distance and expectancy of encountering a non-motorized user may be limited (e.g., in advance of curves, both horizontal and vertical).
    • On roadways used by cyclists and with a posted speed limit of 35 mph or less, install Bicycles May Use Full Lane signs in conjunction with shared lane markings.
  • Educate locals on the safe walking and riding practices of the road.This includeseducating motorists on applicable laws regarding the rights of non-motorized users. Some States may even have specific laws that govern the interaction of motorized and non-motorized roadway users. For example, some States have passed a three-foot passing law(e.g., Maine, Nevada, Arizona, Kansas, Georgia, and Colorado) that states a driver must give a cyclist or pedestrian a minimum of three feet when passing. In some instances, the law also permits the yellow line to be crossed when passing a non-motorized user.


  • Pave graded shoulders to provide a bikeable surface and separated space for non-motorized users (see Table 8). Adding shoulders benefits both motorized and non-motorized users. In rural areas, paved shoulders provide additional space for the movement of slow-moving vehicles such as farm equipment. Paved shoulders also reduce roadway departure crashes by providing a recoverable area for vehicles leaving the roadway. Furthermore, the additional pavement width stabilizes the edge of pavement, preventing premature failure of the pavement, which reduces maintenance needs and prevents ponding of water at the edge of the travel lane.

If longitudinal rumble strips are added along with the paved shoulder, they should contain sufficient gaps for cyclists to move from the shoulder to the travel lane. Additionally, there should be sufficient width for cyclists to ride between the edge of the rumble strip and the edge of the shoulder.

3.3 Identifying Funding Sources

Federal funds may be available for transportation safety projects. Many Federal funding sources are administered by the State transportation agency and possibly through Metropolitan Planning Organizations or Regional Planning Offices, with varying eligibility requirements and program goals. Potential funding sources are presented in Table 6. Federal funding assistance for eligible activities may include some 100 percent Federal-aid programs and programs requiring a non-Federal match. The Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) is a data-driven program.. Projects funded through the HSIP have to show need based on data. State and local funding are usually available for specific safety projects, and the practitioner should contact the appropriate agencies in his or her State for availability and requirements.

Table 6. Potential Funding Sources.

Source Purpose / Use
Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) Projects that improve safety.
Transportation Alternatives (TA) This replaces the Transportation Enhancement (TE) program. TA includes funding for bike and pedestrian facilities, safe routes to school, and recreational trails.
Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ) Transportation projects that contribute to congestion relief and air quality improvements.
National Highway System (NHS) Roadways important to the Nation's economy, defense, or mobility, to include the Interstate Highway System.
Federal Lands Highway Program Planning, research, engineering, and construction of highways, roads, parkways, and transit facilities within, adjacent to, or providing access to reservations and Federal public lands.
State and Community Traffic Safety Program (Section 402) Reduce deaths and injuries on highways.
State Resources Every State has highway and transportation infrastructure funding.

3.4 Implementing Countermeasures

Implementing countermeasures is dependent on both the complexity and the available resources. Short-range improvements can often be implemented through maintenance activities, such as enhancing pavement markings or trimming vegetation at an intersection to enhance visibility of crossing traffic. Mid-range measures typically involve construction and can be built when funding becomes available. Construction projects can also be scheduled as long-range improvements and can be integrated into local, regional, and State transportation improvement programs and plans.

Decision-makers will need justification to take action and allocate resources. Demonstrating the benefits of specific countermeasures will help create broad support and commitment to local initiatives. In fact, many improvements can address safety concerns facing both motorized and non-motorized transportation. For example, paved shoulders not only provide space for non-motorized users outside of the designated vehicular travel lanes, but they also provide space for errant or disabled vehicles. To demonstrate the benefits to all road users, Maine DOT compiled 17 reasons to pave shoulders, 4 of which address non-motorized users' safety:

  1. Reduce passing conflicts between motor vehicles and bicyclists and pedestrians.
  2. Make the crossing pedestrian more visible to motorists.
  3. Provide space and safety for bicyclists to ride at their own pace.
  4. Provide space between motor vehicles and pedestrians, increasing the pedestrians' level of comfort.