Sustainable Transportation Center
Vergis, Sydney and Debbie A. Niemeier (2012) Understanding How Public Perceptions of Road Diets Are Formed. Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis, Research Report UCD-ITS-RR-12-24
Many communities are exploring as well as implementing capacity reallocation projects, which generally take the form of reducing an existing multi-lane road (usually four-lanes) to two vehicle-lanes, and adding a center left hand turn lane and dedicated bike and pedestrian paths in both directions. Public opinion plays an important role in dictating how seriously these projects are considered and once implemented, whether or not they are thought to be a success or failure. Our understanding of how public opinion influences consideration and development of a capacity reduction project, and ultimately how that public opinion can be harnessed toward better project development practices is limited. In this analysis, we provide the findings gleaned from a survey of 1,040 households prior to implementation of a capacity reallocation project along a major arterial in Davis, CA (Fifth Street).
Our results show that project support and opposition are correlated with levels of perceived safety and travel comfort, the frequency of bicycle usage, and respondent expectations with respect to vehicle congestion on side streets. Project support was also correlated with age group, household proximity to the project, knowledge of technical studies and online materials, and attendance at project outreach meetings. By understanding the key factors that correlate to project opinion as well as the types of information valued by residents, this research can serve as a starting point for local jurisdictions planning outreach, monitoring, and/or evaluation activities related to capacity reallocation projects.