Pedestrian Safety Guide and Countermeasure Selection System


A street closure to prevent through traffic in Washington, D.C. Source: Flickr - Dave Reid (2010)




Full Street Closure

A full street closure is accomplished by installing a physical barrier that blocks a street to motor vehicle traffic and provides some means for vehicles to turn around. Full street closures should be used only in the rarest of circumstances. Neighborhoods with cul-de-sac streets require extensive out-of-the-way travel, which is not a mere convenience issue, but has serious implications for impacts on other streets. All traffic is forced to travel on feeder streets, which has negative consequences for the people who live on those streets and forces higher levels of control at critical intersections.

If a street closure is done, it should always allow for the free through movement of all pedestrians, including wheelchair users, and bicyclists. Emergency vehicles should also be able to access the street; this can be done with a type of barrier or gate that is electronically operated, permitting only large vehicles to traverse it. Examples are mountable curbs or an access way with a raised element in the center that a low vehicle would hit, though those treatments may not be able to stop pickups or sport utility vehicles. This is usually only appropriate for places with no snow (otherwise the device would be covered with snow and the access way could not be cleared).


Full street closures are the ultimate limitation measures used to discourage or prevent through traffic from using certain streets.


• Part of an overall traffic management strategy.
• Analyze whether other streets would receive diverted traffic as a result of the street closure, and whether alternative streets exist for through traffic.
• Provide a turnaround area for motor vehicles, including service vehicles, and provide for surface drainage.
• Full street closures may be considered for local streets, but are not appropriate for collector streets.
• Do not use if the street is an emergency or school bus route.
• Do not adversely affect access to destinations in the community by pedestrians and bicyclists.
• Not an appropriate measure for addressing crime or other social problems.
• This countermeasure has been used to convert cul-de-sacs into pedestrian plazas with limited automobile access.

Estimated Cost

Depending on the street closure strategy, which could use bollards, islands, or other measures, the costs are likely to vary substantially. Full street closures can cost from less than $500 to $120,000. The wide ranges in price for full and partial street closures are related to the strategies used to complete the street closure. For instance, a full street closure can be accomplished by only adding a few bollards, but under a different strategy might involve installing new concrete islands and channelizers. Depending on the site conditions, either strategy might be appropriate.

Case Studies

New York City, New York