Separated bike lanes have existed in the United States since at least the 1970s, but only in the past several years has interest spread outside of a handful of early-adopting cities: an inventory of such facilities found that they have doubled in number since 2011 and may double again by 2016.(1) Separated bike lanes have been a fixture of bicycle networks in many countries with high rates of cycling for decades. Today, interest in separated bike lanes is accelerating in the U.S. and there is a rapidly growing list of planned and implemented separated facilities across the country. The Green Lane Project, a program of the PeopleForBikes organization, maintains an inventory of separated bike lanes in the U.S., which is available at: http://www.peopleforbikes.org/green-lane-project/pages/inventory-of-protected-bike-lanes.
Separated Bike Lanes in Context
Separated bike lanes have the potential to improve traffic safety for all street users, especially when implemented as part of a “road diet” or other traffic calming project. Separated bike lanes can help to organize all traffic modes, while also reducing pedestrian crossing distances and decreasing “leapfrogging” between buses and bicyclists. Separated bike lanes can contribute to increased bicycling volumes and mode shares, in part by appealing to less confident riders and this could eventually result in a more diverse ridership across age, gender, and ability. Shifting a greater share of commute, errand, or social trips to the bicycle also offers one potential solution for relieving traffic congestion and contributing to other public policy goals.
Separated bike lanes are one of many bicycle facility types and they exist within a broader context shaped by demographic and land use changes and influenced by interrelated transportation, public health, environmental, and economic factors. In many communities there is an aging population maintaining an independent lifestyle later in life and at the same time a generation of younger adults that is driving less and riding transit more than previous generations. Separated bike lanes can speak to both of these demographic trends, while also contributing to a community’s health and economic goals, as noted below.
As the linkages between the built environment and public health – in particular, the obesity epidemic – have become clear, creating more opportunities for residents to incorporate “active transportation” modes such as walking and bicycling into their daily lives has been identified as one strategy to encourage healthier lifestyles(2). Research has also suggested that the creation of bicycle-friendly streets can be a boon to business, encouraging greater patronage of local retail(3). Cities like New York City and Chicago have framed strategic infrastructure investments, such as separated bike lanes, as an element of their economic development strategies.
Separated Bike Lanes and the Community
On Kinzie Street in Chicago, parked cars and flexible
delineator posts on both sides of the street separate the
bike lanes from traffic. (Source: City of Chicago)
The League of American Bicyclists (LAB) has adopted equity as one of its top priorities and established an Equity Initiative and an Equity Advisory Council. Through these and other efforts, LAB “engages leaders from traditionally underrepresented demographics and bridges the current gap between diverse communities and bicycle advocates.” For more information, visit: http://bikeleague.org/equity. LAB has also developed resources focusing specifically on equity and bicycle transportation, including the following:
As with all transportation investments, there are important equity considerations associated with separated bike lanes. Separated bike lanes can contribute to greater mobility at low cost to lower-income populations, providing a “last mile” link to transit, and expanding access to employment opportunities. Providing opportunities for public input throughout the planning and design process can build local support for separated bike lanes, while also ensuring that community concerns are addressed.
Chapter 4 of this document emphasizes the importance of providing opportunities for early and ongoing public engagement in proposed separated bike lane projects because a strong public involvement program will ensure that social, economic, and environmental issues are fully considered. Practitioners must also ensure that their professional actions do not impose “disproportionately high and adverse effects” on low-income and minority populations, as specified by the DOT Order 5610.2(a), Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Environmental Justice Executive Order 12898.
For more information on public involvement requirements, see: https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/planning/public_involvement/orders/#a11
Refer specifically to Part 450: Planning Assistance and Standards, Subpart B: Statewide Transportation Planning and Programming, 23 CFR 450.210: Interested parties, public involvement, and consultation and Part 450: Planning Assistance and Standards, Subpart C: Metropolitan Transportation Planning and Programming, 23 CFR 450.316: Interested parties, participation, and consultation.
Additional resources and tools for engaging the public and building community support for walking and bicycling are available on the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC) website at http://www.pedbikeinfo.org.
For further information on FHWA’s position on design flexibility, refer to the August 2013 memo “Bicycle and Pedestrian Facility Design Flexibility”, available at the following address: https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/bicycle_pedestrian/guidance/design_flexibility.cfm
Overview of the Planning Process
The recommendations in this guide were developed based on a comprehensive review of the state of the practice of separated bike lane planning and design in the United States. This effort was comprised of four parts:
- An in-depth literature review;
- “Lessons learned” interviews with practitioners;
- A safety analysis of implemented projects; and
- Ongoing input from a Technical Work Group.
A review of national and international literature on separated bike lanes and related issues was conducted to establish a baseline of the current state of the practice, including studies, design guides, and other pertinent publications. This review informed and served as a foundation for the first-hand information collected during the subsequent phases of work (refer to Appendix A).
Lessons Learned Interviews
Structured interviews were conducted with municipalities that have designed and constructed separated bike lanes, those that are planning to implement separated bike lanes, and those that have considered separated bike lanes but determined them to not be the appropriate treatment. Over 35 cities, towns, and counties were interviewed, and the results have been incorporated throughout this document (refer to Appendix B).
An in-depth analysis of crash and ridership data from implemented separated bike lanes in the U.S was completed to evaluate safety outcomes and inform the recommendations of this guide. While the bicycle collision and volume data that exist for most implemented projects is not yet sufficient to draw broad-based conclusions concerning the overall safety of separated bike lanes, the analysis did uncover useful insights to build upon in future analyses (refer to Appendix C). Future research will become more robust as data collection efforts improve, and municipalities consider more holistic evaluations of separated bike lane projects to measure impacts on mobility, economic vitality, and quality of life. To help municipalities collect robust data for evaluation, a project evaluation checklist and data collection information guide are provided as appendices (refer to Appendix D and Appendix E, respectively).
Technical Work Group Guidance
Finally, a Technical Work Group was convened to provide guidance, input, and critical review throughout the project planning process. Comprised of representatives from the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE), American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), League of American Bicyclists (LAB) and nearly a dozen geographically diverse State and city transportation departments, the Technical Work Group helped ensure that the information, analysis, and recommendations contained herein are not only accurate but responsive to the concerns and experiences of practitioners across the transportation discipline.
Separated Bike Lanes and Connected Bicycle Networks
Separated bike lanes are one of many bicycle facility types that can be used to create bicycle networks, which are interconnected bicycle transportation facilities that allow bicyclists to safely and conveniently get where they want to go. Well-planned and designed separated bike lanes can complement or connect to other facilities such as on-street bike lanes and shared use paths. Separated bike lanes can appeal to a broad range of people and in doing so contribute to increases in bicycling volumes and rates. A June 2014 National Institute for Transportation and Communities report entitled “Lessons from the Green Lanes: Evaluating Protected Bike Lanes in the U.S..” observed that ridership on all facilities increased after the installation of separated facilities. Survey data showed that 10% of current riders switched from other modes and that over a quarter of riders are bicycling more in general because of the separated bike lanes. This report is available at: http://trec.pdx.edu/research/project/583
As part of a connected bicycle network, separated bike lanes can:
- Provide a more comfortable experience for less-skilled riders;
- Improve access to destinations such as schools, jobs, health care facilities, and essential services;
- Enhance access to public transportation, for example by helping to solve the first/last mile challenge;
- Improve access to employment opportunities, especially for those without access to a private automobile; and
- Provide a linkage between regional trail systems.
Separated Bike Lanes and Low-Stress Networks
Separated bike lanes have great potential to fill needs in creating low-stress bicycle networks (generally separated from heavy vehicular traffic or sharing the road with motorists only on very low-volume residential streets). Many potential cyclists (including children and the elderly) may avoid on-street cycling if no physical separation from vehicular traffic is provided. This cohort falls into the “Interested, but Concerned” category as noted in Figure 3. To encourage this group to use cycling as a transportation option for short to moderate length trips, many municipalities are focusing on creating a connected bicycle network that “Interested, but Concerned” riders will confidently use. Examples of two municipalities that are leading the push in creating low-stress bicycle networks are presented in a case study on page 46.
Four Types of Transportation Cyclists in Portland
By Proportion of Population
Graphic based on: Geller, R. (2006). Four types of Cyclists. Portland Office of Transportation.
Many municipalities may already have a comprehensive network that – when mapped – appears to adequately cover a large area with multiple intersecting on-street bike lanes or sign-posted bike routes. However, if these facilities are inaccessible to cyclists seeking a low-stress experience then the network may not meet the needs of everyone. Municipalities may implement separated bike lanes as a way to provide a low-stress bicycle network. Such a network might be overlaid on and around – or even replace – an existing bicycle network. It pays particular attention to higher-quality, lower-stress connections, even if this results in some backtracking or extra distance requirements for cyclists using the enhanced network. An example of a planning effort in Pasadena, CA focused on low stress bicycle networks is highlighted on the following page.
The goal of a low-stress network is to create connections that cover a municipality while emphasizing the quality of bicycle facilities over their quantity. Depending upon the context of the corridor (motorist volumes and speeds, roadway alignment, etc.), municipalities may find that separated bike lanes provide substantial benefits in moving towards building out such a network. Additionally, municipalities may find that providing a low-stress bicycle map for public use – with a focus on separated bike lanes, off-street paths, greenways, and neighborhood bike boulevards – will be helpful in defining and promoting the low-stress network. For more information on low-stress networks, refer to the May 2012 Mineta Transportation Institute report, “Low-Stress Bicycling and Network Connectivity” – available at the following address: http://transweb.sjsu.edu/PDFs/research/1005-low-stress-bicycling-network-connectivity.pdf
Pasadena, CA’s bicycle network as mapped based on bicycle comfort, or stress level.
Green segments represent low-stress bikeways. (Source: Sam Schwartz Engineering)
Separated Bike Lanes and Bike Share
Bike share systems are growing rapidly in popularity in U.S. cities. Since the first major U.S. bike share scheme launched in Washington, DC, in 2008, the number of bikeshare programs has expanded to 36 cities, with more on the way. Bike share has transformed the way people get around in many cities and provides convenient transportation options to replace short car, walking, taxi, and transit trips. Bike share growth has been accompanied by a jump in bicycle commuting, which increased by over 60% between 2000 (US Census) and 2008-2012 (5-year US Census American Community Survey) – the largest growth in any transportation mode. With its surge in popularity, bike share has consequently attracted many novice riders or those who may only remember bicycling recreationally as children and never in urban traffic. The presence of bike share as part of a city’s transportation landscape may spur planners to consider separated bike lanes and other low-stress options to allow for safe and comfortable movement within the street network. For more information on bike share programs, visit: www.pedbikeinfo.org/bikeshare.
From a design perspective, separated bike lanes have potential to complement bike share systems. Siting bike share docking stations adjacent to separated bike lanes – within their physical separation from vehicular traffic – allows for easy and safe access and egress to docks. At the same time, the physical separation or buffer space may provide ideal locations for the dock locations themselves; by claiming roadway space for the separated bike lane, planners may find they have also simultaneously identified a space within the right-of-way for a docking station. Refer to Chapter 4 for additional ideas on public space opportunities through separated bike lane design.
A listing of current bike share systems in the U.S. is available at: www.pedbikeinfo.org/bikeshare
A B-Cycle docking station provides physical separation within the buffer space in Austin, TX,
between the separated bike lane and vehicle travel lanes. (Source: City of Austin)
Why Use this Guide? Safety Context
Trends in Bicycle Safety
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 743 cyclists were killed in the US in 2013 and an additional 48,000 were injured in collisions with motor vehicles. The number of cyclist fatalities represents an increase of 1.2 percent over the previous year; by comparison, the decrease in total motor vehicle crash fatalities from 2012 to 2013 was 3.1 percent. In 2012, sixty-nine percent of cyclist fatalities occurred in urban areas and 60 percent occurred midblock. A variety of efforts at the national, State, and local levels have sought to improve safety for bicyclists using a combined approach that incorporates planning, engineering, education, and enforcement. At the national level, the US Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) efforts to improve quality of life include promoting the creation of connected pedestrian and bicycle networks, ensuring that everyone has access to convenient and affordable transportation choices, and encouraging innovations such as road diets that have proven safety benefits.
Separated Bike Lane Safety – Real or Perceived?
Since separated bike lanes are physically separated from vehicular traffic, almost all users (96 percent) feel safer as a result of the separation, which can help attract new riders(4). However, while cyclists may perceive that separated bike lanes provide increased safety, it has been difficult to identify conclusive safety trends due to a lack of data, especially bicycle volume data before separated bike lane installation. In addition, the relatively small numbers of bicyclist crashes that are reported make it difficult to draw conclusions that may be applied to separated bike lanes on a broad level.
The analysis conducted as part of the preparation of this guide studied data from 17 separated bike lane corridors in 8 States (refer to Appendix C). Based on this analysis, separated bike lanes were generally associated with a decrease in total crashes and an increase in total bicycle crashes, however, when accounting for changes in bicycle volumes on facilities that provided sufficient pre- and post-implementation bicycle volume data, the per capita crash rates for cyclists appeared to decrease in most facilities after separated bike lanes were installed. Additionally, the analysis found that increases in bicycle crashes after separated bike lanes were built were especially pronounced at intersections.
The Future of Separated Bike Lanes and Safety
Separated bike lanes continue to be installed across the country to improve quality of life and efforts to create safer, more complete streets. As this trend continues, it is imperative for communities to collect bicycle and motor vehicle crash and volume data for a sufficient period of time before and after separated bike lane installation. This will improve understanding of safety benefits and design considerations – such as differences between one-way and two-way facilities (Refer to Appendix E for guidance on data collection and Appendix D for a project evaluation checklist).
Planning Separated Bike Lanes
Summary of Planning Elements
The process of planning for separated bike lane facilities is complex and involves multiple stakeholders with diverse goals. This chapter provides an overview of opportunities and challenges when planning separated bike lanes. It includes representative case studies from municipalities that have addressed common planning issues and provides guidance on how to holistically approach the task of repurposing or reconstructing the street for low-stress bicycling. Planners, designers, and engineers of separated bike lanes can consult this chapter as a reference tool throughout the planning process.
The table below provides a summary of key planning chapter takeaways. For additional case studies and lessons learned on separated bike lanes in a wide range of U.S. cities, refer to Appendix B.
1 – Planning Considerations
|SBLs within a Bike Network||Plan for a separated bike lane in context of a bike network, not as an isolated project. Connect origins and destinations. Develop a low-stress bike network accessible to novice cyclists.|
|Safety Benefits||Use separated bike lanes to create safety benefits at specific locations or along high-volume corridors. Providing physical separation may improve safety and provides peace of mind to novice cyclists.|
|Design Flexibility||Strategically deploy separated bike lanes where most needed. Consider context and use design flexibility on separation type, intersection treatments, and other design elements to promote safety and manage traveler expectations.|
|Desired bikeway routes may already attract cyclists. Plan for separated bike lanes along corridors that naturally draw cyclists to expand opportunities. Fill unmet needs on busy streets that discourage cycling due to high-traffic volumes.|
|Local Support||Successful locations start with local support. Choose corridors where residential or business communities have bought in to the idea of encouraging cycling through strategic infrastructure investment.|
|SBLs and Equity||Use separated bike lanes to promote cycling as an option for commuting to transit-dependent or carless households. Facilities can also improve connections to transit, jobs, schools, and essential services through safer first / last mile trips.|
2 – Additional Contextual Considerations
|Roadway Capacity Effects||Consider how a separated bike lane affects motor vehicle volumes. Potentially implement a road diet, remove on-street parking, or remove a travel lane. Evaluate capacity effects holistically against mobility benefits of separated bike lanes and potential safety improvements relating to SBL implementation. Perform traffic modeling to measure disbursement of vehicles in road network.|
|Pedestrian and Other Street User Safety Effects||When locating bicycle facilities on higher-speed or higher-volume facilities, the separation afforded by SBLs may provide increased comfort and safety benefits. Improved organization of motor vehicle travel lanes and turn lanes, as well as reduced crossing distances and potential pedestrian safety islands, all provide benefits related to those found in FHWA’s 9 proven pedestrian safety countermeasures.|
|Transit Corridors||Consider how a separated bike lane shares a corridor with transit services. Design lanes for safe interaction at transit stops or measures that separate bus and bike lanes, such as boarding islands. Consider placing facilities on left-sides of 1-way streets or on parallel, non-transit corridors.|
|Loading and Unloading||Engage in site-specific research on local loading and unloading requirements when designing separated bike lanes. Commercial corridors may require dedicated loading zones with clear markings. Explore off-street loading options and off-peak loading time incentives.|
|Accessibility||Ensure that the interface of the SBL with pedestrian facilities at crosswalks, parking spaces, transit stops and other locations is accessible and in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and other local requirements. Consider access to the curb for fire and emergency vehicles.|
|Parking||Evaluate parking needs holistically and attempt to minimize parking space losses where possible. Educate the public on floating parking regulations. Identify opportunities to provide parking on streets adjacent to separated bike lanes.|
3 – Installation Opportunities
|Pilot Projects||Use “pilot projects” to test reactions to separated bike lane concepts with minimal upfront investment. Evaluate designs, make necessary changes, and transition successful pilots to permanent buildouts where feasible.|
|Street Retrofits||Using the existing right-of-way, change geometry of the street to accommodate separated bike lanes. Consider changes to number or width of travel lanes and/or presence of on-street parking. Reduce costs by using scheduled resurfacing projects as opportunities for street retrofits.|
|New Construction or Major Reconstruction||Leverage major capital construction projects and include separated bike lanes in designs. The addition of separated facilities may represent a minimal increase on total construction investment.|
4 – Other Planning Issues
|Cost||Few benchmarks exist for separated bike lane costs, which vary extensively due to the wide variety of treatments and materials used. Cheaper materials can save money upfront; however, permanent build-outs may prove more cost-effective in the long term.|
|Funding||Consider funding through Federal programs, State or local contributions (including dedicated taxes), private sector sources, and nonprofit contributions. Private sector partners can benefit from separated bike lanes; consider value capture strategies.|
|Maintenance||Plan ahead on how a separated bike lane will be maintained. Consider the width of the facility and evaluate sweeping and plowing capabilities. Forge local partnerships and develop maintenance agreements. Consider repairs for the facility itself (e.g. replacing flexible delineator posts frequently).|
|Outreach||Perform continuous outreach before, during, and after separated bike lane implementation. Target different groups such as residents, local businesses, advocacy groups, and others. Provide public education on changes to the streetscape.|
|Agency Coordination||Coordinate with public agencies on traffic safety, enforcement, emergency vehicle access, maintenance, funding, and other issues.
Use a combination of design resources to inform the design process.
5 – Project Evaluation
|Holistic Evaluation||Evaluate separated bike lanes in a holistic fashion. Consider all street users (pedestrians, cyclists, transit users, and motorists). Measure important changes such as crash (fatality and injury), volume, and speeding data along with indirect benefits such as retail sales growth, public health, and environmental benefits.|
|Data Collection||Formalize data collection procedures and collect pre- and post-implementation data on all separated bikeway corridors and comparison corridors. Remain consistent on methodology and data collection technology. Use data to communicate the effect of separated bike lanes on all street users.|
Planning and Design Process Diagram
Identifying a Successful Location
When planning for a separated bike lane, success can be considered within 3 frameworks: network effects, safety improvements, and appropriateness of the solution.
The public may deem a separated bike lane as successful if it is heavily used by cyclists. Cyclists will be more likely to use a bicycle facility, separated or otherwise, if it is part of a comprehensive bicycle network. Successful separated bike lanes will improve service by addressing high-stress areas in the network and provide linkages to expand the portion of a city or town’s street grid that is accessible by bike. Separated bike lanes that provide first and last mile connections to other modes, such as transit, and that fill a need in building a low-stress network accessible to cyclists of all abilities will be successful in terms of effects on a bicycle network. Users and ridership both benefit from the improved legibility and network completeness provided by SBLs.
Some separated bike lanes will succeed in creating safety improvements at specific locations, such as those adjacent to or passing through major intersections, while others can improve bicycle safety along an entire corridor, such as on a high-volume street. In conjunction with a Complete Streets planning approach, separated bike lanes can be a tool for improving safety outcomes for all street users, including cyclists.
Appropriateness of the Solution
Separated bike lanes will be most successful when deployed strategically. Not every bicycle facility needs to be a separated bike lane, and in certain cases it may be appropriate to vary a facility’s separation type or alignment depending on external conditions, such as traffic volumes or adjacent land uses. Planners and engineers should be flexible on designs through a context sensitive approach. For further information on FHWA’s support for and encouragement of design flexibility, see the August 2013 memo at the following web address: https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/bicycle_pedestrian/guidance/design_flexibility.cfm
A Complete Streets retrofit has improved safety outcomes along 1st Avenue in New York City (Source: NYCDOT)
Consider: Users of Separated Bike Lanes
Are cyclists already using a corridor?
A separated bike lane may be appropriate if a street or corridor already has bicycle traffic. Streets that naturally draw cyclists, even in the absence of any bicycle facility, are likely to draw even more if a separated bike lane is constructed.
Would potential cyclists use the corridor if a separated facility existed?
Some streets may not currently have high bicycle volumes because they are uncomfortable. Planners should study corridors that could potentially fill an unmet need in expanding their jurisdiction’s bicycle network to meet latent demand.
Planners in Alameda found that cyclists were already heavily using its waterfront recreational path along Shoreline Drive – so much so that the need for a new, separate bicycle-only facility had become apparent to accommodate the large number of pedestrians, cyclists and other nonmotorized users of the path. In planning for a separated bike lane along Shoreline Drive, the City received overwhelming calls of support from path users – cyclists and pedestrians alike. Alameda was able to decrease the street capacity in certain segments and to remove on-street parking in others along Shoreline Drive without significant impacts on street or parking availability. As a result, the City will build a two-way buffered bikeway on the beach side of the street with broad public support and a growing community of cyclists that look forward to using the upgraded facility with views westward across the San Francisco Bay.
Consider: Connections with Separated Bike Lanes
Could a potential separated bike lane connect origins and destinations?
A separated bike lane that improves connections between and among high-demand destinations such as schools, parks, transit stops, commercial areas, residential clusters, and other attractions will better serve a community than if it is located at random without these considerations.
How can a potential separated bike lane help build a low-stress bicycle network?
Physically separated bike lanes can be a primary tool in creating a bicycle network that is accessible for cyclists of all ability levels, including children and inexperienced adult bicyclists. Facilities that provide low-stress, high-quality connections can improve mobility for all users. Along with off-street paths, greenways, and facilities on low-volume residential streets, planners can use separated bike lanes as a tool to build out low-stress networks accessible to all. The table below and the maps on the following page highlight how Portland, OR has integrated the concept of low stress bikeways into its planning process and how its bicycle network is anticipated to be enhanced in the coming years.
Portland’s Bike Plan for 2030 targets an expansion of a low-stress network, which includes separated
bike lanes. (Source: One Year Progress Report on Portland Bicycle Plan for 2030, published April 2011)
Portland’s Bike Plan for 2030 targets an expansion of a low-stress network, which includes separated bike lanes. (Source: City of Portland)
Could a separated bike lane improve connections for disadvantaged populations?
Beyond facilitating connections between origins and destinations in a low-stress environment, planners should consider separated bike lanes and their relationship with surrounding communities. In many American cities, transit-dependent populations often face long commutes that are exacerbated by limited access to private motorized transport and residences far from convenient public transport options.(5)
Low-Stress Bicycle Networks
Austin, TX and Boulder, CO
Bluebonnet Lane, Austin, TX (Source: City of Austin)
Low-stress bicycle networks – already common in European municipalities – will likely become more widespread in the United States in coming years as bicycling grows as a transportation option and municipalities seek to attract new riders. Low stress network strategies recognize that a significant portion of people interested in riding are not comfortable interacting or sharing a roadway with high-volume motor vehicle traffic. Two municipalities leading the push in creating these networks – and using separated bike facilities as a major component of building them out – are Austin and Boulder.
Austin is combining its paved trails, low-volume streets, and on-street separated bike lanes to create an “all ages and abilities network,” or one that provides even novice cyclists, the young, and the old with the ability to travel extensively by bicycle in the city via lower stress facilities. The City’s highly popular Bluebonnet Lane separated bike lane runs adjacent to an elementary school and is frequently populated with young children commuting to and from school on two wheels.
Boulder has an extensive network for bicycling that includes on-street bicycle lanes, off-street multi-use paths, and sidepaths, as well as designated bike routes along residential streets. Estimating that a core network of connected bicycle facilities will be complete in the next few years, Boulder is now assessing where it can fine tune the existing network to attract and accommodate a broader range of people who want to make trips by bike; in particular women, older adults, and families with younger children. The City is looking towards creating a low-stress network to provide a connected system of routes accessible for bicyclists of all ages and abilities.
Consider: Context of Separated Bike Lanes
How might a separated bike lane affect roadway capacity?
Separated bike lanes cannot be planned in a vacuum. Among the primary concerns when planning a separated facility is determining how much, if any, motor vehicle capacity might be removed due to an installation. The reduction could result from removing a lane of vehicular traffic or altering signal timing such that vehicular throughput is impacted. Many municipalities find the subject of reduced capacity politically challenging. Planners should engage in a comprehensive, multi-modal analysis of the costs and benefits of a separated bike lane in terms of mobility for all street users – cyclists, pedestrians, and transit users, in addition to motorists. Planners should take a flexible approach to separated bike lane construction and engage in robust before and after data collection (refer to Appendix E) in order to holistically evaluate how separated bike lanes can fit into a roadway network. Evaluation should include performing a traffic volume analysis, determining if a corridor has excess capacity, and evaluating whether a separated bike lane design will require removal of roadway capacity. Planning for high-quality separated bike lanes within a dynamic, constrained environment poses considerable challenges and requires careful consideration and analysis.
How do Separated Bike Lanes support USDOT’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Initiative?
When locating bicycle facilities on higher-speed or higher-volume facilities, the separation afforded by SBLs may provide increased comfort and safety benefits. The United States Department of Transportation launched a Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Initiative, and installation of separated bike lanes may provide contextual solutions to bicycle safety concerns. Installation of separated bike lanes are one of many solutions to consider as communities actively work to improve comfort and safety of all roadway users. For additional information on USDOT’s new initiative, visit the following web address: http://www.transportation.gov/briefing-room/us-transportation-secretary-foxx-announces-new-initiative-enhance-pedestrian-and
How can installing a separated bike lane improve pedestrian safety?
Separated bike lanes in areas with high pedestrian activity can provide safety benefits to groups beyond cyclists themselves. Separated bike lanes can shorten pedestrian crossing distances, and, depending on design, may provide a median refuge for pedestrians. This benefit is especially beneficial for young, elderly, and disabled pedestrians who may need more time to cross. SBLs can reduce the number of bicyclists riding on the sidewalk, thereby reducing pedestrian/bicyclist conflicts. Portland State University’s 2014 study of separated bike lanes and data collected from facilities in New York City have both found a reduction in sidewalk riding following installation of separated bike lanes.
Pedestrians wait to cross 1st Avenue in New York City on a
median island refuge. (Source: NYCDOT)
Platform island bus stop and 1st Avenue South separated bike lane
in St. Petersburg, FL. (Source: Rory Rowan)
How can a separated bike lane be installed on a transit corridor?
If planners intend to place a separated bike lane on a corridor that also accommodates transit services (such as bus or light rail), additional considerations are required to ensure the separated bike lane functions well with transit operations and stops. Planners should evaluate the context of each corridor, and determine the most appropriate design. Options include installing signs, pavement markings, and/or bus bulbs to provide for shared space, placing a separated bike lane on the left side of a one-way street (out of the way of transit stops along the right side), or choosing to install a separated bike lane on a nearby parallel corridor away from transit to minimize conflicts. There may be a benefit to placing a separated bike lane adjacent to a rail corridor to encourage bicyclists to ride away from in-street rail tracks that may pose a hazard.
How can loading and unloading activities be accommodated with a separated bike lane?
Planning for loading and unloading on streets with separated bike lanes requires site-specific evaluations of local needs. Commercial areas with limited off-street or side-street loading opportunities will require advanced planning and outreach. Dedicated on-street loading space can be provided along a floating parking lane, with highly visible crossings and accessible curb ramps. Other options include off-peak loading time slots or configuring adjacent streets and driveways for loading.
A dedicated accessible parking space in Austin, TX. (Source: Kelly Blume)
How can accessibility issues be handled with a separated bike lane?
Municipalities must take measures to address accessibility and not reduce access as a result of implementing separated bike lanes. Requirements fall under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) but may also include specific supplemental State or local legislation. If not planned carefully, separated bike lane installations can potentially impede access to the curb for alighting motor vehicle passengers or transit users. It is possible to address this curb access issue by installing mid-block curb-ramps and buffers wide enough to accommodate wheelchair lifts. In municipalities with legislation requiring any on-street parking be adjacent to a curb, planners may find it necessary to install a raised curb between the separated bike lane and floating parking lane to achieve compliance. Other municipalities are addressing this legislative challenge by changing local codes to remove such requirements. Likewise, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 protects individuals with disabilities and governs recipients of USDOT funds. This Section provides for detectable warning surfaces (small truncated domes) indicating the boundary between a pedestrian route and vehicular route where the connection is flush, rather than curbed.
Contextual Separated Bike Lane Planning
New York City, NY
A separated bike lane, shorter crossing distances, and a
dedicated bus lane along 1st Avenue, New York City
To plan for separated bike lanes while accounting for outside context, New York City frames its planning process as part of a more comprehensive effort to transform its streets to promote livability and safety in addition to mobility. The City has found that separated bike lane installations generally improve safety outcomes for all users.
On 1st and 2nd Avenues, the City accounted for context through the following measures:
- Installation of pedestrian islands that shorten crossing distances;
- Placement of its M15 Select Bus Service in dedicated bus lanes on the right sides of one-way streets, with separated bike lanes on the left to minimize bicycle-transit stop conflicts;
- Provision of floating parking throughout the corridors to create physical separation for cyclists; and
- Targeted outreach to merchants along the corridors and creation of dedicated loading zones and times where needed.
How can a separated bike lane be constructed in the context of on-street parking needs?
Separated bike lanes are often implemented through the removal of a parking lane or by moving the parking lane between the separated bike lane and motor vehicle lanes. Parking impacts are frequently the most contentious issue associated with separated bike lane projects, even in cases where parking removal was relatively minimal. In some cases, it may be appropriate to identify opportunities to replace lost parking by evaluating potential changes to parking regulations on streets adjacent to a proposed separated bike lane.
Choosing Location: Opportunities for Separated Bike Lane Installation
Use Pilot Projects
Building out a robust separated bike lane using expensive and often permanent materials like raised curbs and dedicated bicycle signals may be challenging. One solution, already employed in numerous US jurisdictions, is to begin with a pilot project. With pilot projects, municipalities might forgo permanent curbs for less costly flexible delineator posts, dedicated bicycle signals for other less costly intersection approach designs (i.e. less prescriptive mixing zone designs), and thermoplastic paint for cheaper but shorter-term marking treatments.
Numerous benefits in addition to lower costs arise from pilot projects:
- Designers have the ability to “tweak” designs once they are implemented and behaviors can be observed. With newer, complex facility types, design tweaks can be expected and are not indicative of a failed design.
- Pursuit of non-permanent installations provides the public assurance that the separated bike lane concept is not being forced upon them, and provides opportunity for public debate (especially important if it is a community’s first ever separated bike lane).
- Pilot projects allow a low-risk trial run for a separated bike lane without significant financial commitment, so if a facility fails or is not accepted, the level of investment lost is relatively minimal; implementation processes under pilot projects will be more streamlined than under more formalized capital construction processes.
- A pilot project can be a stepping stone to a more permanent separated bike lane design – many US municipalities have found the “pilot to permanent” route a smart, cost-effective way to familiarize the public with separated bicycle facility design treatments.
Salt Lake City’s 300 East separated bike lane was installed using
PBPD with inexpensive materials (Source: City of Salt Lake City)
Apply a Performance Based Practical Design Approach
Performance Based Practical Design (PBPD) is an approach grounded in a performance management framework. The approach encourages cost savings by utilizing the flexibility that exists in current design guidance and regulations. These cost savings will enable cities, Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), and States to deliver a greater number of projects (for example projects that will create or significantly improve connected pedestrian and bicycle networks). The emphasis on flexibility and project value is fully consistent with the planning and design process outlined in Chapters 4 and 5 of this document. The planning and design process for separated bike lanes should consider both short- and long-term project and system goals and should focus on scoping projects to stay within the core purpose and need. In this way, separated bike lane planning, design, and implementation will be fully consistent with the PBPD approach. For more information on Performance Based Practical Design, see https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/design/pbpd.
Install separated bike lanes as part of street retrofits
Most separated bike lanes will come about as a result of a retrofit of a street using its existing right-of-way. Space in the roadway that is required for a separated bike lane can come from one or more of the following, depending on local context and needs:
- Removal of a lane of on-street (usually curbside) parking
- A shift in alignment of existing on-street parking from curbside to floating to create a parking-protected separated bike lane
- A removal of one of more vehicular travel lanes
- A reduction in width of some or all vehicular travel lanes and/or on-street parking lanes.
These actions fall into two groups, those that affect on-street parking and those that affect general travel lanes and roadway capacity. Planners seeking to install a separated bike lane by changing on-street parking should consider undertaking parking utilization studies, pricing on-street parking at market rates, and evaluating a change in regulations on adjacent or intersecting streets to offset parking space losses. As the public becomes more accepting of cycling and the need for infrastructure with physical separation, they may become more likely to accept and even request such changes.
Creating space for separated bike lanes often involves reducing lane widths or eliminating a motor vehicle lane. Planners have found success in promoting such changes to the streetscape through a Complete Streets approach. By framing the loss of roadway vehicle capacity – which in itself might be undesirable – as a way to calm traffic, improve safety outcomes, and enhance mobility for all street users (pedestrians, cyclists, transit users, and motorists alike), the public will be more likely to see a separated bike lane as a part of a comprehensive effort to improve roadway safety. Implementing such a street conversion by adding a separated bicycle facility, along with other Complete Streets elements like landscaped pedestrian refuge islands, enhanced transit stops, changes to signal timing to reduce speeding, and others, can help to ensure that projects are well-received. Furthermore, adding a separated bike lane design to a more wide-ranging Complete Streets retrofit may often represent only a marginal increase in overall investment on a project.
Boulder’s Baseline Road separated bike lane was installed
through the Living Laboratory program.
(Source: Ray Keener)
In 2013, Boulder introduced a Living Laboratory program to introduce and test new bike facility treatments. The goal of the pilot program is to increase trips by enhancing the existing system for bicyclists of all ages and riding abilities. This pilot approach allows city officials to quickly test out infrastructure treatments, including separated bike lanes, and gather public input to guide design refinements and determine which projects should be made permanent. The program benefits the city by minimizing much of the upfront costs for project design. Boulder prides itself on its active community participation in civic projects, and using a pilot approach allows the City to be experimental while still maintaining its responsive reputation before permanent separated bike lane designs are finalized. Boulder’s planners use the program to actively identify potentially successful separated bike lanes and test these perceptions in real-time.
Street Retrofits and Complete Streets
As part of its Connect Historic Boston initiative to link National Park Service and historic sites with transit stations, planners in Boston included a design for a center-running separated bike lane along Causeway Street. It will be part of a network that includes four miles of separated bike lanes along five connected roadways. The City received a Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant by proposing a wide swath of Complete Streets improvements to several downtown corridors including Causeway Street, which runs adjacent to high-volume pedestrian attractors like North Station, the city’s largest transit hub, and the TD Bank Garden arena. The City has decided to use an existing median to build a center-running two-way separated bike lane in this section as part of a major Complete Streets retrofit.
The two-way alignment will allow crossing pedestrians to contend with crossing only one rather than two separate bicycle facilities, and also will reduce pedestrian exposure to motor vehicles in crosswalks. Meanwhile, bicyclists will enjoy the benefit of a separated facility that is well-marked and easily identifiable, with a median that decreases their exposure to motor vehicle traffic. Transit users will also benefit through safer walking and cycling infrastructure, which should help increase transit mode share and support the City’s Greenovate Boston (greenhouse gas emission reduction) initiative.
Integrate separated bike lanes into large new construction or major reconstruction projects
Working from a blank or relatively blank slate, planners and engineers should consider possible needs for a separated bike lane from the beginning of the design process. Finding the necessary roadway width to include a separated bike lane in a retrofit can be the most difficult part of the planning process, so planning a separated bike lane from the beginning of a more significant construction project can be highly beneficial to minimize such difficulties years later. Municipalities might consider funding separated bike lanes on new roadways through impact fees on the developer, as separated bike lanes could also bring increased market values to new properties. Municipalities should also take advantage of greater design flexibility in new street construction as part of a Complete Streets approach, especially in States or municipalities that mandate a Complete Streets planning process. Widening an existing roadway can also be an opportunity to produce designs to accommodate adding a separated bike lane. Finally, major reconstruction projects offer opportunities to introduce separated bike lanes to the public as part of a recreational, tourist, or cultural initiative.
610 municipal Complete Streets policies were in effect as of 2013,
and more are adopted every year. (Source: Smart Growth America)
Reconstruction Projects, Separated Bike Lanes, and Tourism
Construction of the downtown Cultural Trail in
Indianapolis, IN. (Source: Mark H. Zwoyer)
The city of Indianapolis embarked on a comprehensive downtown development effort to create a historic “Cultural Trail” that connects the city’s six cultural districts. Officially opened in 2013, the trail includes 8 miles of physically separated bicycle facilities, connects 82 miles of existing on-street bike lanes and over 70 miles of off-street greenway trails, and supports a new public bikeshare system of 250 bikes for use on the facility. The Cultural Trail also features high-quality pedestrian infrastructure, wayfinding and informational signage, public art, and bioswales for stormwater collection and corridor beautification. Constructed with a mix of Federal funds and private donations, Indianapolis has successfully created a new tourist attraction through its downtown that also happens to feature a high-quality separated bike lane that improves bicycle connections for residents and visitors alike.
Completed section of the downtown Cultural Trail in
Indianapolis, IN. (Source: Mark H. Zwoyer)
Funding Separated Bike Lanes
Costs for separated bike lanes vary extensively due to the wide variety of treatment types and materials used. One estimate provides a range of $50,000 to $500,000 per mile for facilities in Austin, TX, but the range may be even wider in other localities.(6) Permanent build-outs with raised curbs and/or dedicated bicycle signalization require more labor and material costs than pilot project approaches to separated bike lanes that consist only of flexible delineator posts and moderate amounts of paint and signage. The use of more affordable materials (often as part of a pilot project approach) can help save money upfront on separated bike lane investment.
Saving Money with Inexpensive Materials
Inexpensive treatment with flexible delineator
posts on L Street, Washington DC (Source: DDOT)
Municipalities often consider more affordable, temporary materials for their flexibility and ease of installation. Washington, DC, built two of its newer separated bike lanes along L and M Streets NW, using flexible delineator posts and reduced use of green paint in order to save money on implementation while addressing neighborhood concerns about design. The District’s Department of Transportation estimates that separated bike lane construction costs on L Street may have been reduced by upwards of 50% as a result.
Funding can be acquired from many sources, including Federal, State, and/or local contributions, and monies from private or nonprofit entities. Municipalities have pursued funding through Federal programs such as the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ), Surface Transportation Program (STP), Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP), Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grants (TIGER), and others. In general, all Federal funding sources can and should be considered in the context of separated bike lane projects. Beyond Federal funds, planners should explore local funding options such as development impact fees and/or local sales tax ordinances to raise money that is dedicated to separated bike lane development.
Federal-Aid Funding for Pedestrian and Bicycle Facilities
Bicycle and pedestrian projects, including separated bike lanes, are eligible for Federal-aid highway and transit program funding categories. More information is available at the following web address: www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/bicycle_pedestrian/funding/funding_opportunities.cfm
Separated bike lanes can also be funded using private sector sources – a good solution in locations where access to public funds is scarce. Local businesses often have reason to advocate and even pay for separated bike lane investment; some US municipalities are considering or have already received funding for separated bike lanes from local businesses, or groups of businesses through Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), or other private entities that consider investments in bicycle infrastructure to be economically beneficial. A common solution is for a BID to enter a maintenance agreement with a city that has funded separated bike lane construction along a commercial corridor.
Some companies may find a separated bike lane to be such an attractor of potential customers or employees that funding its entire construction can be a worthwhile investment.
Creative funding solutions through value capture financing, in the form of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) mechanisms, infrastructure impact fees, or others, may represent future collaborations between the public and private sectors that treat separated bike lanes like other investments in local transportation infrastructure.
Nonprofit funding such as that from health organizations, can provide the incremental push that a municipality might need to bring a separated bike lane concept from planning and design stages to implementation.
BID Support for Separated Bike Lanes
Philadelphia, PA and Miami, FL
The City of Philadelphia and the Center City District
temporarily closed one lane (at left) on Market Street
to demonstrate the impacts of adding a separated bike lane.
(Source: Dylan Semler)
Business districts recognize that vibrant, thriving commercial spaces are characterized by walkability and activity. Philadelphia’s Center City BID initiated a traffic calming project to address excess capacity and make street crossings safer on JFK Boulevard and Market Street. The BID worked with the City, neighborhood building owners, and retail tenants, and determined that a separated bike lane design with a landscaped buffer would be the preferred method of calming traffic. During Park(ing) Day, the City enacted a temporary closure of one lane, and showed that traffic would still flow properly even with a lane reduction.
Likewise, the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) in Miami led the planning and concept development of several separated facilities. The DDA is enthusiastic about separated bike lanes because of their ability to attract “interested but concerned” riders and draw potential shoppers to its commercial district. Specifically, the DDA is hoping to attract senior citizens, who often ride on the sidewalk in downtown. In both cases, BIDs in Philadelphia and Miami will assume responsibility for cleaning and regular maintenance of the separated bike lanes and buffers.
Corporate Funding for Separated Bike Lanes
Rendering of proposed 7th Avenue separated bike lane
(Source: Seattle Times)
The city of Seattle is planning a separated bike lane along 7th Avenue in the city’s South Lake Union neighborhood, and considers this corridor an important element in creating connections in its low-stress bicycle network. Amazon, one of Seattle’s largest corporate residents, will pay for construction of the portion of the proposed separated bike lane adjacent to the company’s new corporate headquarters. Negotiated as a part of the development review process, both Amazon and the city of Seattle believe safe bicycle access to the workplace will render the location more desirable for potential employees. While such an arrangement may not be common, other municipalities may wish to consider approaching large corporate entities for whom separated bike lane investment could be a win-win situation.
Rendering of proposed Blanchard Street to Westlake
Avenue configuration with two one-way separated bike lanes,
to be funded by Amazon. (Source: Seattle Times)
Funding Separated Bike Lanes with Value Capture
TIF districts in central Chicago
(Source: City of Chicago)
Value capture financing is defined as the recovery of the increase in property value generated by public infrastructure investments that accrue to private landowners who benefit from the infrastructure. Chicago has used value capture through Tax Increment Financing (TIF) mechanisms, in which portions of increased tax revenue from development rights are used to fund neighborhood improvements such as separated bike lanes. The City also uses TIF funding to expand its popular Divvy bike share program.
Maintenance: Maintaining Separated Bike Lanes
Properly maintaining separated bike lanes involves a set of unique issues that may not be compatible with general street or sidewalk maintenance. When building separated bike lanes, municipalities must consider how they will be swept and, if applicable, plowed during snow events. Consideration should include an inventory of existing maintenance equipment, whether it will fit in the proposed separated bike lane, and alternative options if the equipment will not be compatible. The width of separated bike lanes relative to the width of sanitation vehicles is a particularly important issue to address during planning stages.
Common maintenance problems are the lack of coordination between planning and maintenance agencies and a lack of funding to purchase smaller sanitation equipment to fit the separated bike lane. Plowing and sweeping problems are exacerbated in many municipalities due to their separate departments for planning and maintaining separated bike lanes. When building separated bike lanes to accommodate drainage, planners should consider environmentally friendly options such as bioswales within landscaped medians that can absorb precipitation and also serve as the facility’s form of physical separation from vehicular traffic.
Seattle’s 2nd Avenue two-way separated bike lane provides
adequate width and access for street sweeping vehicles.
(Source: Seattle Department of Transportation)
Sweeper Selection for Separated Bike Lane Maintenance
Narrow sweepers like this one can fit into most
separated bike lanes (Source: PeopleForBikes)
In order to sweep or plow separated bike lanes, many municipalities have realized that traditional maintenance equipment is either too large or small. The Green Lane Project, “a PeopleForBikes program that helps build better bike lanes to create low-stress streets”, has published a list on the subject, available at the following web address: http://www.peopleforbikes.org/blog/entry/tech-talk-the-best-street-sweepers-for-clearing-protected-bike-lanes.
As separated bike lanes become more common, the list will likely expand as more products come to market.
Boulder uses a standard plow that fits in its 2-way
Baseline Road separated bike lane.
(Source: City of Boulder))
Outreach: Outreach on Separated Bike Lanes
Outreach when planning for separated bike lanes is just as critical as working through designs and securing funding. Separated bike lane outreach takes numerous forms, including:
- Outreach to the general public during planning and design stages, including residents along a potential separated bike lane corridor;
- Outreach to the business community along the proposed corridor;
- Coordination with transit agencies that operate service along or intersecting with the proposed corridor;
- Coordination with enforcement and public safety agencies such as police and fire departments;
- Coordination with State and county Departments of Transportation (especially for separated bike lanes along or intersecting with state or county-controlled roads);
- Coordination with maintenance divisions;
- Coordination with other partners such as advocacy groups, public health organizations, and others; and
- Outreach during implementation with a public education focus on how different user groups (cyclists, motorists, pedestrians) should interact with the new facility (especially around conflict areas like intersections and driveways).
Business Support for Separated Bike Lanes
Higgins Street separated bike lane in
downtown Missoula, MT
(Source: City of Missoula)
A separated bike lane for Higgins Street in Missoula emerged through a master plan that was conceived of and paid for by the local downtown business improvement association. The plan focused heavily on improving walking and cycling and included separated bicycle facilities. While a few local businesses opposed the project because of losses of curbside parking spots, the vast majority, along with the association’s director and the director of the downtown redevelopment agency, supported the project to bring safer cycling activity to downtown Missoula. This support was critical during the public process, and was an important contributor in moving the project forward. Since construction, the downtown BID has assumed responsibility for cleaning and regular maintenance of the separated bike lane. Its activities include snow removal and sweeping, and the BID owns maintenance vehicles that can fit into the separated bike lane.
The most successful outreach is started as early as possible and provides all stakeholders with transparent information on changes that are proposed to the streetscape. Support from the local business community can be critical to the success of a planned separated bike lane, and partnerships with BIDs have been instrumental in advancing separated bike lanes in many municipalities. Separated bike lanes can be marketed to the business community as a tool for traffic calming and generators of increased activity in front of storefronts.
Successful separated bike lane planning is also contingent on cooperation by planners with sister agencies within a municipality along with relevant State or county departments of transportation. The design guidance presented in the following chapter is intended to be a resource for all of these parties, and is meant to aid coordination efforts with these groups.
Perhaps the most important element of separated bike lane outreach involves educating the public on what can be significant changes to the streets in their cities, towns or villages. As separated bike lanes become more popular, the learning curve on these new designs will improve, but today across the country many citizens are interacting with these facilities (as cyclists, as motorists, and as pedestrians) for the first time. As a result, it is critical to consider a messaging campaign, even at a highly localized level, in order to improve awareness of new designs.
Public Education on Separated Bike Lanes
Rendering of Broadway, a curb separated bike lane in
Jackson, WY. (Source: City of Jackson)
Jackson plans to launch a public education campaign associated with its Broadway separated bike lane that will be implemented in 2014 and 2015. The campaign will include a partnership with a local advocacy organization, advertisements in the local newspaper, and temporary signage along the corridor during the initial rollout period. This type of public education effort – rare to date in US municipalities that have constructed separated bike lanes – is encouraged and could serve as a model for education during implementation, especially in municipalities building their first separated facility.
Holistic Evaluation of Separated Bike Lanes
When planning separated bike facilities, practitioners should evaluate projects in a holistic fashion, considering all street users and using evaluation criteria beyond just mobility and safety. The project evaluation process should attempt to measure various effects of separated bike lanes on different groups such as pedestrians, cyclists, transit users and motorists. A detailed project evaluation checklist is provided as Appendix D. This checklist identifies a broad range of measures that can be considered as part of a holistic evaluation of a Separated Bike Lane. This checklist can be used in conjunction with Appendix E, which provides detailed instructions on volume and crash data collection pre- and post-implementation. One of the critical elements in the evaluation is to confirm that all of the traffic control devices are compliant with the provisions in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), which is available at http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov.
It is crucial that any evaluation measure before and after changes in bicycle volumes and bicycle crash and injury data. The collection of high-quality volume and crash data is also important for future research efforts on the mobility and safety effects of separated bike lanes. Meanwhile, the indirect effects on the streetscape, local area quality of life, and safety outcomes for all street users – such as improvements to public spaces, a revival of a retail corridor, shorter crossing distances for pedestrians, and even simplified traffic patterns for motorists – should be emphasized as part of a package of improvements gained through separated bike lane implementation. Using a Complete Streets framework, municipalities can use this holistic approach to project evaluation to achieve support for designs by showing the spillover benefits to populations beyond the local bicycling community.
Best Practices on Data Collection
Before planning and designing a separated bike lane, it is critical to formalize data collection procedures in order to provide for effective project evaluation. This is important because only with quality data will a municipality be able to make a quantitative case for the safety, mobility, and economic benefits of separated bike lanes. Use the data collection information checklist (see Appendix E) to collect data before and after separated bike lane installation at key locations. Of particular importance is the need to collect bicycle volume and crash data in a consistent manner during the pre- and post-implementation periods. With advances in automated counting technology and their decreasing costs, municipalities are strongly encouraged to use them to achieve regular and continuous count data. It is also important to maintain a consistent counting methodology in the before and after evaluation periods, preferably using the same technology vendor or contractor. Additional data collection to accompany automated counts, such as maintaining a before and after photo library and conducting qualitative surveys to measure satisfaction on projects, are also advised. Finally, data collection should be viewed as one piece of project evaluation and should be tied into project outreach and the holistic evaluation of a separated bike lane’s effect on all street users.
Separated Bike Lane Project Evaluation
New York City, NY
Retail sales grew along New York City’s 9th Avenue separated
bike lane corridor when compared with comparison corridors
without separated bike lanes (Source: NYC DOT)
New York City frames its separated bike lane projects in the context of Complete Streets with improvements that benefit all users. To assess impacts the agency performs a holistic project evaluation that includes data collection on traffic volume and safety in addition to numerous other factors. To evaluate the success of a section of its 1st Avenue separated bike lane between E. 61st Street and E. 72nd Street, the City measured changes in crashes with injuries for all users (cyclists, pedestrians, and motor vehicle occupants) along the corridor before and after implementation, noting a reduction of 10%. (This data is for two years after and will be updated for up to three years after implementation, at which point the City considers the results to be final).
The evaluation measured mobility outcomes and showed a significant 45% weekday increase in bike volumes. The mobility measurement included motor vehicles too, showing that vehicular travel times improved slightly during the PM peak as a result of a more simplified traffic pattern, the addition of left turn bays, and new dedicated loading zones that reduced double-parking. This improvement in travel times also benefits transit users, as 1st Avenue is a one-way street, with a dedicated bus lane on its right side serving the City’s M15 Select Bus Service route. Ridership on this bus route has improved 9% since implementation. The City also calculated vehicular Levels of Service at E. 72nd Street and found no change. Within this evaluation framework, New York City also highlights the 14 new landscaped pedestrian islands (which shorten crossing distances) and the new street trees planted within them.
The installation of the separated bike lane also allowed the City to remove PM peak parking restrictions, resulting in the effective creation of 70 new spaces during this time – an accomplishment given the potential losses of on-street parking that can accompany the installation of separated bike lanes with mixing zones. While the City has not yet measured the effect of the subject corridor on local retail, similar studies – such as one on a section of its 9th Avenue separated bike lane – have shown marked increases in revenue for local stores on separated bike lane corridors relative to comparison corridors with no separated facilities. These improvements are cited in the City’s 2013 Economic Benefits of Sustainable Streets report for 9th Avenue and Columbus Avenue; similar economic impact studies will expand to other separated bike lane corridors in the future.
New York City has focused on economic factors like retail sales growth
along separated bike lane corridors, 2 of which are included in this
2013 report (Source: NYC DOT)
Menu of Design Recommendations
Four Step Design Process
The separated bike lane design process can be categorized into four general categories – Directional and Width Characteristics, Forms of Separation, Midblock Considerations, and Intersection Considerations. These categories form the basis of a four-step design process where the decisions within each step inform future design decisions, resulting in an iterative design process based on available street width, transportation priorities, and other project goals. This chapter groups the design process into these four categories and provides flexible design options to best meet local conditions and the community’s goals.
When designing these newer types of facilities, it is important to document the numerous decisions made throughout the design process. Documentation should demonstrate that the final design was developed based on the best available data, good engineering judgment, and sound design principles.
STEP 1: Establish Directional and Width Criteria
- The decision of one-way and two-way separated bike lanes should be based on traffic lane configurations, turning movement conflicts, parking requirements, and surrounding bicycle route network options and destinations.
- Width considerations include expected bicycle volumes, required buffer width, and maintenance requirements.
- Alignment decisions for running the separated bike lane on the right-side, left-side, or in the center of the road, include transit stop conflicts, intersection and driveway conflicts, locations of destinations, and parking placement.
STEP 2: Select Forms of Separation
- Separation type decisions should be based on the presence of on-street parking, street width, cost, aesthetics, maintenance, motorized traffic volumes and speeds.
STEP 3: Identify Midblock Design Challenges AND Solutions
- There are several potential conflicts that may occur at midblock locations along a separated bike lane.
- Transit stops occurring on the same side of the street as the separated bike lane present a challenge due to interactions among cyclists, transit vehicles, and those accessing transit stops.
- Locating accessible parking spaces may require additional design adjustments.
- Loading zones should be well-located and designed to minimize conflicts.
- Driveways present concerns due to challenges with sight distance and driver expectations
that can be minimized through design treatments and driveway consolidation.
STEP 4: Develop Intersection Design
- Intersection design should focus on the safety of all users with additional consideration
on delay, queuing, user expectations, motorized traffic volumes and speeds.
- Sufficient sight distance for all street users at intersection approaches should
- Designs should protect or provide safe interactions between separated bike lane users and conflicting turning movements.
- Signs and markings should be included to appropriately guide and prompt safe behaviors through intersections.
Design Recommendations: Flexibility in the Planning and Design Process
The designs presented in this chapter are based on current design guidance and the state of the practice and are intended to be a starting point for a flexible design process that takes into account site conditions, context, and continually evolving design resources. The graphic below highlights the key elements of a successful design process, but the order and exact execution of the steps are flexible. Evaluation and design are iterative processes, with designs evolving as municipalities evaluate how a facility is functioning.
Step 1: Directional and Width Characteristics
The selection of separated bike lane width and directional characteristics depends on a combination of factors that are most often determined by the existing street and surrounding network characteristics. The most critical considerations are to reduce conflicts with turning vehicles, provide sufficient width for safe operations and ease of maintenance, and ensure predictable behavior by the street users.
Direction and Width: One-Way Separated Bike Lane on a One-Way Street
A one-way separated bike lane on a one-way street is the least complicated design. This type of design can most easily be implemented on existing streets through the conversion of a motor vehicle lane or removal of on-street parking. Another advantage of this type of facility is the ability to provide a reasonable signal progression for cyclists, improving travel time and signal compliance. One potential complication of this design may be wrong-way riding by bicyclists. This can occur if there are no suitable and attractive bicycle routes (such as a parallel facility) near this separated bike lane.
- One-way separated bike lanes should have a minimum width of 5 ft. Wider separated bike lanes provide additional comfort and space for bicyclists and should be considered where a high volume of bicyclists is expected. Widths of 7 ft and greater are preferred as they allow for passing or side-by-side riding. Additional care should be taken with wider lanes such that the separated bike lane is not mistaken for an additional motor vehicle lane.
- Total clear width between the curb face and vertical element should be at least the fleet maintenance (sweeping or snowplow) vehicle width. Widths (inclusive of the gutter pan and to the vertical buffer element) narrower than 7 ft will often require specialized equipment. Consultation with a Public Works department is recommended during the planning process.
- A minimum 3 ft buffer should be used adjacent to parking. For further guidance on buffer selection and installation, see page 83.
- For further guidance on typical signs and markings for separated bike lanes, see page 127.
One way Separated Bike Lane on a One-Way Street (Left-Side Running)
Long Beach, CA, has installed left-side, one-way separated
bike lanes along a pair of one-way streets downtown.
(Source: City of Long Beach)
Consider a left-side running separated bike lane under the following conditions:
- The corridor includes a high frequency transit route resulting in potential conflicts with transit vehicles, stops, and transit riders.
- There are fewer driveways, intersections, or other conflicts on the left-side of the street.
- The most likely destinations for bicyclists are on the left-side of the street.
- On-street parking is located on the right-side of the street.
Direction and Width: One-Way Separated Bike Lane on a Two-Way Street
Providing one-way separated bike lanes on each side of a two-way street creates a predictable design for managing user expectations. Typically, each separated bike lane will run to the outside of the travel lanes in a design similar to a one-way separated bike lane on a one-way street. A potential challenge with this design is it takes up more roadway space compared to the alternatives of providing a two-way separated bike lane or developing alternate corridors for directional travel.
- Bike symbols should be placed periodically in the lane.
- Drainage grates and gutter seams should generally not be included in the usable width.
- For further guidance on buffer selection and installation, see page 83.
- For further guidance on typical signs and markings for separated bike lanes, see page 127.
Central Median Alternative
An alternative design places separated bike lanes adjacent to a median. This design can be considered when there are significant conflicts due to turning movements, transit activity, or other conflicting curbside uses. Depending on the width of the median, this design may result in intersection design challenges, particularly in how bicyclist right- and left-turns are made.
Direction and Width: Two-Way Separated Bike Lane on Right-Side of One-Way Street (2 Lanes)
Providing a two-way separated bike lane on a one-way street may be desirable under certain circumstances. This design couples a separated bike lane with a contraflow bike lane in order to route bicyclists in the most direct or desirable way given the street network and destinations. However, this design can create some challenges for roadway user expectancy at intersections and driveways, which could be mitigated by signage suggesting to look both ways for pedestrians. Additionally, certain intersection designs are not possible.
Left-Side Running Alternative
Consider a left-side running separated bike lane under the following conditions:
- The corridor includes a high frequency transit route resulting in potential conflicts with transit vehicles, stops, and transit riders.
- There are fewer driveways, intersections, or other conflicts on the left-side of the street.
- The most likely destinations for bicyclists are on the left side of the street.
- On-street parking is located on the right side of the street.
(Not to Scale)
- Two-way separated bike lanes should have a preferred combined width of at least 12 ft. Given this total width, clear signs and markings should be provided such that the separated bike lane is not mistaken for an additional motor vehicle travel lane.
- For further guidance on buffer selection and installation, see page 83.
- A centerline to separate the two-way bicycle traffic marked in accordance with the MUTCD (2009).
- For further guidance on typical signs and markings for separated bike lanes, see page 127.
Direction and Width: Two-Way Separated Bike Lane on Right-Side of Two-Way Street
Providing a two-way separated bike lane on a two-way street may be desirable under certain circumstances such as minimizing conflicts on high frequency transit corridors or along corridors with a higher number of intersections or driveways on one side of the street (such as along a waterfront). This design does, however, create some challenges for roadway user expectancy at intersections and driveways. Additionally, the design limits intersection design options.
(Not to Scale)
- Due to operational and user expectations, this design is best used when there is no room for separated bike lanes on both sides of the street.
- For further guidance on buffer selection and installation, see page 83.
- A centerline to separate the two-way bicycle traffic marked in accordance with the MUTCD (2009).
- For further guidance on typical signs and markings for separated bike lanes, see page 127
Center Orientation Alternative
An alternative design places a two-way separated bike lane in the center of the street. This design is uncommon and can be considered when there are significant conflicts due to turning movements, transit activity, or other conflicting curbside uses. Depending on the width of the roadway and the amount of space that can be allocated to the separated bike lane and buffer, this design may result in intersection design challenges, particularly on how bicyclist right- and left-turns are made.
(Not to Scale)
- A continuously raised buffer is preferred to reduce the chance of U-turns across the separated bike lane.For further guidance on buffer selection and installation, see page 83.
- A centerline to separate the two-way bicycle traffic marked in accordance with the MUTCD (2009).
- For further guidance on typical signs and markings for separated bike lanes, see page 127.
Step 2: Forms of Separation
Vertical elements in the buffer area are critical to separated bike lane design. These separation types provide the comfort and safety that make separated bike lanes attractive facilities. The selection of separation type(s) should be based on the presence of on-street parking, overall street and buffer width, cost, durability, aesthetics, traffic speeds, emergency vehicle and service access, and maintenance. In certain circumstances, emergency vehicle access may need to be provided through low or mountable curbs or non-rigid means. The spacing and width dimensions that follow are suggestions; narrower buffer widths may be used so long as the vertical elements can be safely accommodated under the conditions of that roadway. To realize the full benefits of several treatments at a potentially lower overall cost, a combination of separation treatments may
Cyclists enjoy the greatest level of comfort when buffers provide greater levels of physical separation. The National Institute for Transportation and Communities” (NITC) report, “Lessons from the Green Lanes: Evaluating Protected Bike Lanes in the U.S.,” found that planters, curbs, and flexible delineator posts provided the greatest sense of comfort, and that any type of buffer shows a considerable increase in self-reported comfort levels over a striped bike lane.
Forms of Separation
Flexible delineator posts are one of the most popular types of separation elements due to their low cost, visibility, and ease of installation. However, their durability and aesthetic quality can present challenges and agencies may consider converting these types of buffers to a more permanent style when design and budgets allow. Delineators can be placed in the middle of the buffer area or to one side or the other as site conditions dictate (such as street sweeper width or vehicle door opening).
Bollards are a rigid barrier solution that provides a strong vertical element to the buffer space. Depending on how frequently the bollards are placed, this form of separation may result in an increased cost compared to others, and may not be as appropriate on higher speed streets.
Concrete barriers provide the highest level of crash protection among these separation types. They are less expensive than many of the other treatments and require little maintenance. However, this barrier type may be less attractive and may require additional drainage and service vehicle solutions. A crash cushion should be installed where the barrier end is exposed.
Concrete curbs can either be cast in place or precast. This type of buffer element is more expensive to construct and install but provides a continuous raised buffer that is attractive with little long-term maintenance required. Mountable curbs are an option where emergency vehicle access may be required.
Separated bike lanes may also be designed as raised facilities, either at sidewalk grade or at an intermediate grade. If designed at the sidewalk level, the use of different pavement types, markings, or buffers may be necessary to keep bicyclists and pedestrians separated. If placed at an intermediate level, a 3 inch mountable curb may be used to permit access of sweeping equipment.
This form of separation provides an aesthetic element to the streetscape, a suitable vertical barrier, and is quick to install. However, depending on the placement, this treatment is more expensive than other solutions, requires maintenance of the landscaping, and may not be as appropriate on higher speed streets.
Parking stops and similar low linear barriers are inexpensive buffer solutions that offer several benefits. These barriers have a high level of durability, can provide near continuous separation, and are a good solution when minimal buffer width is available. However, using the minimum width will not provide the same level of comfort and protection due to their low height and bicyclists’ proximity to traffic.
While not a barrier type on its own, parked cars can provide an additional level of protection and comfort for bicyclists. A minimum buffer width of 3 feet is required to allow for the opening of doors and other maneuvers. Additional vertical elements such as periodic delineator posts should be paired with this design. Barrier types that obstruct the opening of car doors or create tripping hazards should be avoided.
Combination of Treatments
Separation types can be used in combination to realize the full benefits of several treatments at a lower overall cost. For example, delineator posts can be alternated with parking stops or other low, linear barriers to provide both horizontal and vertical elements. Planters or rigid barriers and bollards may be used at the start of a block to more clearly identify the separated bike lane and provide an aesthetic treatment, with more inexpensive treatments used midblock.
Strategic Agenda for Pedestrian and Bicycle Transportation. This report informs FHWA’s pedestrian and bicycle activities in the next 3 to 5 years and is organized around four goals: (1) Networks, (2) Safety, (3) Equity, and (4) Trips. Each goal includes actions relating to (a) Capacity Building, (b) Policy, (c) Data, and (d) Research. See www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/bicycle_pedestrian/publications/strategic_agenda.
Achieving Multimodal Networks: Applying Design Flexibility and Reducing Conflicts. The guidebook helps practitioners address topics such as intersection design, road diets, pedestrian crossings, transit and school access, freight, and accessibility. It highlights ways to apply design flexibility, while focusing on reducing multimodal conflicts and achieving connected networks. See www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/bicycle_pedestrian/publications/multimodal_networks.
Pursuing Equity in Pedestrian and Bicycle Planning. This white paper discusses equity considerations in the pedestrian and bicycle planning process. See www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/bicycle_pedestrian/resources/equity_paper.
Guidebook for Developing Pedestrian and Bicycle Performance Measures. This document helps communities develop performance measures that can fully integrate pedestrian and bicycle planning in ongoing performance management activities. See www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/bicycle_pedestrian/publications/performance_measures_guidebook.
Incorporating On-Road Bicycle Networks into Resurfacing Projects. This guidebook helps communities integrate on-road bicycle facilities as part of their routine roadway resurfacing process. This is an efficient and cost-effective way for communities to create connected networks of bicycle facilities. See www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/bicycle_pedestrian/publications/resurfacing.
Bicycle Network Planning & Facility Design Approaches in the Netherlands and the United States. This FHWA Global Benchmarking Program report explores similarities and differences in approaches to bicycle network planning and facility design. See www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/bicycle_pedestrian/publications/network_planning_design.
Bike Network Mapping Idea Book. This document highlights ways that different communities have mapped their existing and proposed bicycle networks. It is a resource for communities to identify, plan, and improve their bicycle networks. See www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/bicycle_pedestrian/publications/bikemap_book.
Small Town and Rural Multimodal Networks. This guidebook helps small towns and rural communities support safe, comfortable, and active travel for people of all ages and abilities. See www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/bicycle_pedestrian/publications/small_towns/.
2016 Recreational Trails Program (RTP) Annual Report. This report provides information about the RTP and highlights the RTP Database and how States use funds. It illustrates eligible project types along with project examples receiving awards from the Coalition for Recreational Trails. See www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/recreational_trails/overview/report/2016/index.cfm.
Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) Performance Management Guidebook. This document provides sample performance objectives and measures that States, Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), and project sponsors may consider as they administer, implement, and evaluate TAP projects and program outcomes. See www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/transportation_alternatives/performance_management/.
Ongoing Research and Related Activities
Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC). FHWA entered into a 5-year cooperative agreement with the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center (UNC/HSRC) to support the PBIC in September 2016. The statement of work covers: (1) Operate a national pedestrian and bicycle information center; (2) Conduct pedestrian and bicycle research and provide technical assistance; and (3) Enhance behavioral safety education, enforcement, policy, research, and communication related efforts in cooperation with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (with NHTSA funding). See www.pedbikeinfo.org/.
Innovative Street Design and Accessibility. This research project will focus on the extent to which new and emerging street designs and practices, such as shared streets, meet the needs of people with disabilities, specifically regarding navigation for pedestrians with vision disabilities. This project will synthesize current practice and document linkages to existing accessibility design guidance and regulations. It will highlight innovative practices that are enhancing accessibility in communities and document key design challenges, instances where existing design guidance is lacking, and areas where additional research is needed. Anticipated Fall 2017.
Measuring Multimodal Network Connectivity. This project will synthesize and present the full range of options available for measuring network connectivity and tracking change over time. A summary report will be developed documenting the various methodologies and approaches and identifying strengths and weaknesses of each based on a real world application in different contexts. The methodologies will range from detailed data, resource, and time heavy applications to more streamlined approaches. Methodologies will be examined for communities that have extensive data and also for communities that have limited data. The project will apply a subset of these methodologies in five case study communities and the results will be included in the final report. Anticipated Fall 2017.
Every Day Counts (EDC-4)/Community Connections Initiative. This initiative promotes the use of innovative transportation planning and project delivery strategies to lead to community-focused transportation projects that support community revitalization. Two webinars and seven summits took place from September to December 2016, focusing on various transportation components to enhance the transportation process and improve connectivity between disadvantaged populations and essential services. See www.fhwa.dot.gov/innovation/everydaycounts/edc_4/connections.cfm.
MySidewalk. This is a mobile application facilitating the crowd-sourced collection of sidewalk inventory and condition data. MySidewalk utilizes advances in social networks, mobile data collection, and data mining to provide integrated sidewalk datasets. It is funded through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program. Phase I demonstrated the feasibility of the concept through a proof-of-concept prototype. Phase II is improving the MySidewalk user interface and features, beta testing a pilot implementation, and preparing to take the application to market. Anticipated Spring 2018.
Rails-with-Trails Effective Practices. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), FHWA, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), and NHTSA initiated a research study to follow up on the 2002 Rails-with-Trails: Lessons Learned; Literature Review, Current Practices, Conclusions. The 2002 report addressed issues associated with the development of shared use paths and other trails within or adjacent to active railroad and transit rights-of-way. The new report will document and synthesize lessons learned over the past 15 years. It will provide examples of effective practices to maintain or enhance the safety and security of rail-road and transit employees and property, trail users, and the general public, while meeting community mobility and land use goals. Anticipated Fall 2018.
Pedestrian and Bicycle Funding Opportunities / U.S. Department of Transportation Transit, Highway, and Safety Funds. FHWA updated this funding table to account for the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act and provide more project examples. It indicates potential eligibility for pedestrian and bicycle projects, notes basic program requirements, and links to program guidance. Project sponsors should fully integrate nonmotorized accommodation into surface transportation projects. The table is available in HTML and PDF formats.
Safe Routes to School (SRTS)
SRTS Clearinghouse Status. FHWA’s cooperative agreement with the UNC Highway Safety Research Center’s National Center for Safe Routes to School to operate the SRTS clearinghouse ended in December 2016. FHWA will provide some support for tracking SRTS projects, collecting student travel data, and promoting Walk and Bike to School Days through the PBIC. Below are highlights of activities the National Center for SRTS conducted as the SRTS clearinghouse in 2016. FHWA’s SRTS webpage is www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/safe_routes_to_school/.
Quarterly Tracking Briefs. Briefs provide information about State SRTS program funding. The September 30, 2016 brief noted about $5.3 million spent or announced for SRTS programs through the FAST Act legislation from reporting States. See www.saferoutesinfo.org/program-tools/national-progress/program-tracking-reports.
Trends in Walking and Bicycling to School from 2007 to 2014. The report included 720,000 parent surveys from 6,500 schools and found walking to and from school increased from less than 14 percent to more than 17 percent of all trips between 2007-08 and 2014. See http://bit.do/walkbiketrends (PDF, 1.17 MB) or http://saferoutesinfo.org/about-us/newsroom/new-study-shows-more-children-are-walking-school.
Advancing Safe Walking and Bicycling for Youth: Approaches from the Federal Safe Routes to School Program that Support Broad Safety Benefits for Youth. The report describes five ways that SRTS strategies can be used to improve safety beyond the trip to school. See http://saferoutesinfo.org/sites/default/files/VisionZero_final.pdf (PDF, 7.51 MB) or http://saferoutesinfo.org/about-us/newsroom/five-ways-safe-routes-school-can-help-advance-youth-pedestrian-and-bicyclist-safet.
Walking and Bicycling in Indian Country: SRTS in Tribal Communities. This brief describes issues and examples of SRTS programs in tribal communities. See http://saferoutesinfo.org/sites/default/files/SRTS_brief_tribal.pdf (PDF, 360 KB), or http://saferoutesinfo.org/about-us/newsroom/national-center-and-safe-routes-school-national-partnership-release-informationa-3.
SRTS in Small Rural Communities: Challenges and Strategies to Accessing Funding. This brief describes issues and examples of SRTS programs in small rural areas. See http://saferoutesinfo.org/sites/default/files/SRTS_brief_RuralComm_final.pdf (PDF,394 KB) or http://saferoutesinfo.org/about-us/newsroom/national-center-and-safe-routes-school-national-partnership-release-informationa-3.
National Walk to School Day and National Bike to School Day. Record participation of 5,086 schools and 2,678 schools, respectively. Partnered with Mayors’ Challenge for Safer People and Safer Streets to invite a total of 1,500 mayors to join events and commit to child and youth pedestrian safety. See www.walkbiketoschool.org.
- Gary Jensen, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-366-2048
- Dan Goodman, email@example.com, 202-366-9064
- Christopher Douwes, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-366-5013
- Wesley Blount, email@example.com, 202-366-0799
Office of Planning (HEPP)
Bicycle-Pedestrian Count Technology Pilot Project. In 2015, FHWA’s Office of Planning, Environment, and Realty (HEP) awarded grants to 10 Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) for a Bicycle-Pedestrian Count Technology Pilot Project. The Pilot Project funded the purchase of a limited number of portable automatic counters to collect counts at various locations within the MPO planning areas. The project asked agencies to collect counts over a period of one year using the portable counters, and to share data and experiences with FHWA. Participants had access to a series of internal webinars and other technical assistance opportunities. FHWA released a summary report on its Bicycle-Pedestrian Count Technology Pilot Project in December 2016. The purpose of the pilot project was to increase the organizational and technical capacity of MPOs to establish and operate effective bicycle and pedestrian count programs, and to provide lessons learned for peer agencies across the Country. Technical resources developed during the project include slide shows and webinar recordings, and may be found at the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center, www.pedbikeinfo.org.
Coding Nonmotorized Station Location Information in the 2016 Traffic Monitoring Guide Format. HEPP published a user-friendly guidebook to support development of data that can be communicated in the Traffic Monitoring Guide (TMG) format and eventually contributed to the national database of bicycle and pedestrian counts that is currently being developed through the Traffic Monitoring Analysis System. The guidebook includes diagrams, illustrations, and numerous examples showing how to interpret the TMG format and how to assemble correct and consistent information about bicycle and pedestrian count locations and the counts themselves. See www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/bicycle_pedestrian/publications/.
Connected Bicycle Technology. FHWA awarded a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project to Charles River Analytics of Cambridge, MA, to develop a prototype of connected vehicle technology and supporting applications for bicycles. Phase I concluded in November 2016 with a successful demonstration of the prototype on the connected vehicle test facility at the FHWA Turner Fairbank Highway Research Center. A Phase II proposal is currently being evaluated. Connected vehicle technology allows direct communication of safety and mobility information between suitably equipped vehicles, as well as between vehicles and infrastructure such as traffic lights or warning beacons. The products of this research will ensure that bicycles can participate in this new information environment.
- Jody McCullough, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-366-5001
- Jeremy Raw, email@example.com, 202-366-0986
- Brian Gardner, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-366-4061
- Jill Stark, email@example.com, 202-366-8870
FHWA Office of Highway Policy Information (HPPI)
Exploring Pedestrian Counting Procedures: A Review and Compilation of Existing Procedures, Good Practices, and Recommendations. In May 2015, HPPI published a report on the state of practice in pedestrian counting. This report covers existing guidance and best practices to recommend strategies for accurate, timely, and feasible measurement of pedestrian travel. See www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/travel_monitoring/pubs/hpl16026/.
Pedestrian and Bicycle Updates to the Traffic Monitoring Analysis System (TMAS). To support statistical analysis of travel trends, HPPI maintains a system called the Traffic Monitoring Analysis System (TMAS), which receives raw data from automatic motorized vehicle collection programs, vehicle classification counts, and weigh-in-motion counters, and computes basic reports from those data sets. A project funded by the FHWA Office of Planning is modifying TMAS to receive and report on bicycle and pedestrian counts based on the Traffic Monitoring Guide data format (see next item). Those enhancements will be included in TMAS Version 2.8, which is under active development and scheduled for release in 2017. It will be at www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/tmguide/.
Traffic Monitoring Guide (TMG). HPPI publishes the TMG to support consistent traffic monitoring techniques. Since 2013, this guide has included information on conducting bicycle and pedestrian counts, and reporting those counts in a standard data format. HPPI published a new edition of the TMG in 2016, with several important updates to the bicycle and pedestrian data format. See www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/tmguide/.
- Steven Jessberger, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-366-5052
- Tianjia Tang, email@example.com, (202) 366-2236
FHWA Office of Infrastructure (HIF)
Controlling Criteria for Design: A Final Notice. This guidance was published in the Federal Register on May 5, 2016, to finalize the revision of FHWA’s policy on controlling criteria for design. The change reduces the number of controlling criteria from 13 to 10, and introduces context to the application of the controlling criteria. As a result, only two controlling criteria apply to non-freeways with a design speed less than 50 miles per hour. See www.fhwa.dot.gov/design/standards/160505.cfm.
- Elizabeth Hilton, firstname.lastname@example.org, 512-536-5970
FHWA Office of Operations (HOP)
Interim Approval for Intersection Bicycle Boxes. FHWA issued an Interim Approval for intersection bicycle boxes (IA-18) on October 12, 2016, through the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways (MUTCD). See http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/res-interim_approvals.htm.
Update to Interim Approval for Green-Colored Pavement. FHWA updated Interim Approval 14, which allows the use of green-colored pavement in bicycle lanes and bicycle lane extensions, based upon the experience of manufacturers and installing agencies with production and field installation. Official Ruling 9(09)-86 (I) revises the chromaticity specifications of green-colored pavement under IA-14 to better allow for uniformity in the production process and the materials wearing under UV exposure in the field. All Official MUTCD Interpretations are at http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/resources/interpretations/index.htm.
Update to MUTCD FAQ on “Share the Road” Signing for Bicyclists. FHWA updated the MUTCD FAQ to address the most recent research surrounding “Share the Road” messaging as it relates to bicyclists on the roadway. The new FAQ entry notes that “Share the Road” messaging can be confusing to drivers and bicyclists, who each misinterpret the message as applying to the other group. The FHWA recommends the use of a W11-1 warning sign with a word message plaque reading “IN LANE” or “ON ROADWAY”. See http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/knowledge/faqs/faq_part9.htm#signsq5.
Clarification Memo on Traffic Control Devices and Bicycle Facilities. Based on requests from the Institute of Transportation Engineers, National Association of City Transportation Officials, and People for Bikes, the FHWA has issued a memo clarifying the approval status of several traffic control devices, including two-stage turn boxes, bicycle lane extensions, green-colored pavement with shared-lane markings, and others. See http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/resources/policy/tcdstatusmemo/index.htm.
Bicycle Facilities and the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. The table lists various bicycle-related signs, markings, signals, and other treatments and identifies their status (e.g., can be implemented, currently experimental) in the 2009 version of the MUTCD. See www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/bicycle_pedestrian/guidance/mutcd/.
- Dave Kirschner, email@example.com, 202-366-6054
- Bruce Friedman, firstname.lastname@example.org, 615-781-5758
FHWA Office of Safety (HSA)
Bike Facility Selection Guide. This project will develop a new resource guide that will help State and local agencies identify the most appropriate types of bike facilities to use based on user and roadway characteristics. After development, we will provide technical assistance to several pilot communities as they use the guide. FHWA’s stakeholders are continually asking us for new resources to help them implement safer bicycle facilities. We have produced and revised a number of well-received tools (e.g., BIKESAFE) and documents (e.g., Separated Bike Lane Planning and Design Guide). However, there is a gap as to when to separate bicycle traffic from motor vehicle traffic and how to do it safely within an often constrained urban right-of-way. Contract award expected Spring 2017.
Pedestrian and Bicyclist Scalable Risk Assessment Methodology (ScRAM). This project will build off existing resources to create a standardized approach that agencies can use to estimate pedestrian and bicyclist exposure to risk. It will result in a Scalable Risk Assessment Methodology. It will make it easier for stakeholders to assess risk and inform funding decisions, which is especially important given the constrained fiscal environment. Texas Transportation Institute was awarded the contract in Spring 2016.
Pedestrian and Bike Safety Reference Tool. FHWA has developed numerous tools, case studies, and resources to assist State and local agencies with making pedestrian and bicyclist safety improvements. Despite this, there are concerns that end users are not aware of these resources and when or how to use them. The project will compile and provide in one central location comprehensive decision support tools, design guidance, and other resources to support the development of safe and complete bicycle and pedestrian transportation networks. The decision support resource will assist stakeholders with the full life cycle of pedestrian and bicyclist project development, including public involvement, planning, programming, design and construction, safety, operations and maintenance, and evaluation. Expected Spring 2017.
Noteworthy Local Policies that Support Safe and Complete Pedestrian and Bicycle Networks. This project will identify examples, highlight noteworthy practices, and discuss advantages, effectiveness, and any shortcomings of provisions supporting safe and complete walking and biking environments (i.e., complete streets policies and access management). Expected in early 2017.
Pedestrian Forum. The Office of Safety produces a quarterly newsletter focusing on pedestrian safety. The current and previous issues are at http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/ped_bike/pedforum/. You can subscribe at http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/esubscribe.cfm#ped.
Pedestrian Safety Focus States and Cities. Since 2004, FHWA’s Safety Office has been working to aggressively reduce pedestrian deaths by focusing extra resources on the cities and States with the highest pedestrian fatalities and/or fatality rates. The States and cities were revised in 2015 to include bikes and to what you currently see in this map. For more information on how the States and cities were selected visit the Office of Safety’s Focused Approach Website. FHWA has been offering free technical assistance and courses to each of the States and cities, and free bimonthly webinars on subjects of interest. See http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/ped_bike/ped_focus/.
Safe Transportation for Every Pedestrian (STEP). Pedestrians account for more than 17.5 percent of all fatalities in motor vehicle traffic crashes. The majority of these deaths occur at uncontrolled crossing locations such as mid-block or unsignalized intersections. These are among the most common locations for pedestrian fatalities generally because of inadequate pedestrian crossing facilities and insufficient or inconvenient crossing opportunities, all of which create barriers to safe, convenient, and complete pedestrian networks. Over the next two years, FHWA is promoting the following pedestrian safety countermeasures through the fourth round of Every Day Counts (EDC-4):
- Road Diets can reduce vehicle speeds and the number of lanes pedestrians cross, and they can create space to add new pedestrian facilities.
- Pedestrian hybrid beacons (PHBs) are a beneficial intermediate option between RRFBs and a full pedestrian signal. They provide positive stop control in areas without the high pedestrian traffic volumes that typically warrant signal installation.
- Pedestrian refuge islands allow pedestrians a safe place to stop at the midpoint of the roadway before crossing the remaining distance. This is particularly helpful for older pedestrians or others with limited mobility.
- Raised crosswalks can reduce vehicle speeds.
- Crosswalk visibility enhancements, such as crosswalk lighting and enhanced signing and marking, help drivers detect pedestrians–particularly at night.
Recent Safety Products
Road Diet Policies. This document describes the benefits and highlights real-world examples of agencies including Road Diets within new or revised transportation policies and guidance. See http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/road_diets/resources/fhwasa16072/.
MYTH BUSTERS: Debunking Road Diet Myths. This flyer debunks some of the most common Road Diet myths. See http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/road_diets/resources/fhwasa16074/.
Did You Know a Road Can Go On a Diet? This document provides an overview of Road Diets and how they can be implemented to improve safety. See http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/road_diets/resources/ (PDF, 556 KB: http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/road_diets/resources/pdf/get-the-facts062016.pdf).
Building Safer Routes to School. Road Diets can improve roadway conditions near areas children frequent, like schools and parks. In these locations, safety can be drastically improved for motorists by calming traffic and improving the line of sight for children and drivers alike. See http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/road_diets/resources/ (PDF, 634 KB: http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/road_diets/resources/pdf/safer_route_to_schoolv1_052616.pdf).
Road Diets: A proven safety Countermeasure that improves safety, livability, and access for ALL users (Video)
- Long version:
- Short version:
Improving Access to Transit Using Road Safety Audits: Four Case Studies. This case studies document provides a review of the Road Safety Audit (RSA) process and four case study examples of RSAs that had a demonstrated interest in improving access to transit. See http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/rsa/resources/ (PDF, 13.80 MB: http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/rsa/resources/docs/fhwasa16120.pdf).
- Gabe Rousseau, email@example.com, 202-366-8044
- Tamara Redmon, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-366-4077
- Becky Crowe, email@example.com, 804-775-3381
FHWA Office of Safety Research and Development (HRDS)
Identification and Prioritization of Pedestrian Crash Locations/Area. This research project effort will improve safety and mobility for pedestrians and bicyclists. An initial step in reducing the frequency of pedestrian crashes is identifying where they are occurring. Once locations have been identified, appropriate treatments can be selected and installed. Several techniques are used to identify high crash locations including identifying intersections or midblock crossing with the highest number of crashes in a given time period (i.e., frequency) or the highest number of crashes after adjusting for exposure (i.e., crash rate). This project will document methods used to identify or prioritize high pedestrian crash sites or areas, including the methods’ input data demands. It will develop a best practice guide to assist State and local agencies in identifying high pedestrian crash locations, corridors, and zones. The guide will demonstrate both existing tools along with potential tools being explored to identify locations that justify consideration of pedestrian treatments. Anticipated December 2017.
- Ann Do, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-493-3319
PDF files can be viewed with the Acrobat® Reader®
MnDOT Traffic Impacts of Bicycle Facilities http://dot.state.mn.us/research/reports/2017/201723.pdf
Drivers on roadways with bicycle lanes were less likely to encroach into adjacent lanes, pass, or queue when interacting with cyclists than drivers on roadways with sharrows, signs designating shared lanes, or no bicycle facilities. Queueing behind cyclists, the most significant impact on vehicular traffic flows, generally was highest on roads with no facilities or shared facilities without marked lanes. Statistical modeling confirmed the descriptive results. Given an objective of increasing predictability of driver behavior, buffered or striped bicycle lanes offer advantages over other facilities. Sharrows may alert drivers to the presence of cyclists, but traffic impacts on roadways with sharrows may not differ significantly from roadways with no facilities. Signs indicating bicyclists may occupy lanes also may alert drivers to the presence of cyclists, but this study provided no evidence that interactions on roadways marked only with signs differ from roadways with no facilities. From the perspective of reducing potential traffic impacts, bicycle lanes are to be preferred over sharrows or signage.