Useful Terms

The way we think about roads and corridors is changing every day, and with it come new terms to describe modern innovations.  Here’s a few of our favorite terms to help you understand some new street trends.


Bicycle Boulevard

Bicycle Boulevards are shared roadway facilities that are comfortable and attractive to cyclists with a wide range of abilities and ages but are inconvenient as through routes for automobiles. Bicycle boulevards are low-volume streets that have been optimized for bicycle travel through traffic calming and diversion, signage and pavement markings, and intersection crossing treatments. Some cities with extensive bicycle boulevard connections include Berkeley, CA, Eugene and Portland, OR and Vancouver, British Columbia.  Here in Tucson, we just installed our very first Bicycle Boulevard along 4th Avenue & Fontana Avenue.  (Source:

Bike Lane

Bike lanes are defined as “a portion of the roadway which has been designated by striping, signing and pavement marking for the preferential or exclusive use by bicyclists”. Bicycle lanes make the movements of both motorists and bicyclists more predictable and there are advantages to all road users in striping them on the roadway. In general, bicycle lanes should always be one-way, carrying bicyclists in the same direction as the adjacent travel lane; on the right side of the roadway and located between the parking lane (if there is one) and the travel lane. (Source:


A curved road obstacle built on the side of a roadway that is designed to reduce vehicle speed by introducing curves into the roadway. Generally chicane are built on alternate sides of the road to introduce bends into what would otherwise be straight road. Like a speed bump, they’re primarily designed to reduce speed, but they can also provide space for landscaping and urban artwork. There’s a number of places you can see Chicanes in Tucson, including Dunbar Spring Neighborhood and Rincon Heights Neighborhood.

Complete Streets

“Complete Streets” are streets that are safe and usable for all people regardless of their transportation method. Complete streets are designed to safely accommodate pedestrians, cyclists, transit users, motorcyclists, and vehicles. One of the primary goals of complete streets is to change the design and decision-making process of new and existing roads to take into account all the various types of uses they may be put to. (Source: and

Complete Streets are also designed to:

  • Provide better transportation options for people
  • Improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians
  • Reduce traffic congestion
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • Create more walkable communities


Micromobility is a category of modes of transport that are provided by very light vehicles such as electric scooters, electric skateboards, shared bicycles and electric pedal assisted, pedelec, bicycles. The primary condition for inclusion in the category is a gross vehicle weight of less than 500 kg.

Road Diet

A “road diet” is when a four lane, undivided roadway (2 lanes in each direction) is turned into a 3 lane roadway (one lane in each direction with a two way left turn lane in the center) and bike lanes are added. This new configuration not only enhances the safety for motorist but for cyclist and pedestrians, as well. (Source:

Road diets are usually successful on roads carrying fewer than 19,000 vehicles per day. If properly designed, traffic does not divert to other streets after a road diet has been installed. In fact road diets have been found to maintain (and enhance) traffic flow while reducing crashes. (Source:

Shared Use Path

Shared use paths are often called trails or bike paths for bicyclists and walkers. There are more than 11,000 miles of paths on former railroad corridors and thousands more alongside canals, rivers, and highways and running through parks and recreation areas.

Some of the principals of shared use paths are:

  • they are an addition, and complimentary, to the roadway network.
  • they function best when they are in their own right of way
  • they are used by a wide variety of users traveling in both directions
  • they need to be connected to the transportation system
  • they should be designed based on the same engineering principles that are applied to highways. (Source:


Shared lane pavement markings (or “sharrows”) are bicycle symbols carefully placed to guide bicyclists to the best place to ride on the road, avoid car doors and remind drivers to share the road with cyclists. Unlike bicycle lanes, sharrows do not designate a particular part of the street for the exclusive use of bicyclists. They are simply a marking to guide bicyclists to the best place to ride and help motorists expect to see and share the lane with bicyclists. (Source:



What do sharrows mean for motorists and bicyclists?


  • Expect to see bicyclists on the street
  • Remember to give bicyclists three feet of space when passing
  • Follow the rules of the road as if there were no sharrows


  • Use the sharrow to guide where you ride within the lane
  • Remember not to ride too close to parked cars
  • Follow the rules of the road as if there were no sharrows

 Traffic Circle

Raised circular islands built in the middle of intersections designed to slow and direct traffic in one direction. They provide a traffic calming effect and help reduce the number and severity of collisions. (Source:  There are a number of neighborhoods that have traffic circles in the Tucson region.  The photo on the right is one in Dunbar Spring Neighborhood, where native vegetation and public art have made it both useful and attractive.


A “Woonerf” is a street that is designed primarily to accommodate non-vehicular traffic such as pedestrians and cyclists. Woonerfs also accommodate vehicles, but pedestrian and cyclists take precedence in the design process. Typically Woonerfs have curves to slow traffic, no curbs, intermittent parking, and trees and recreation areas for pedestrian use.