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A bike lane is the portion of a roadway designated by striping, signing and pavement markings for the preferential use of bicyclists. Generally, a bike lane is one way and bicycles travel in the same direction as traffic. A bike lane should provide enough road pavement for a bicyclist to ride comfortably between the adjacent travel lane and the curb and gutter or on-road parking. In general in the U.S., bike lanes are on the right-side of the road although alternative configurations are possible.
Design Standards & Guidelines::
  • Bike lane width without curb, gutter or parking: 4 feet min.
  • Bike lane width with high traffic volumes without curb, gutter or parking: 5 feet min.
  • Bike lane width with curb or guardrail: 5 feet min.
  • Bike lane width between parking and travel lane: 5 feet min.
  • Bike lane width adjacent to narrow parking lane: 6-7 feet
  • Bike lane width with high bicycle use: 6-8 feet
  • Bike lane dashed white line prior to intersections (signalized or with high level of right turns): 50-200 feet
  • Bike lane solid white line width: 4-6 inches (some locations require 8 inches)
  • Colored asphalt bike lanes: not in current standards but may be possible to get experimental approval for use

Design & Safety Issues to Consider:
  • Bike lanes increase total road capacity
  • Wider bike lanes are needed where vehicle speeds are higher
  • Bike lanes are more typically used in urban and suburban areas
  • Adequate space is required around parked car doors and where parking changeover is frequent
  • Refer to AASHTO Bike Guide for alternative bike lane configurations for different situations
  • Accommodating many vehicular turning movements at intersections complicates design of bike lanes
  • Bike lanes can be dashed in segments where frequent crossing or merging occur
  • Bike lanes should terminate prior to roundabouts
  • Roadway debris sweeps to edge of bike lane area
  • Striped buffers may be used to separate bike lanes from other road features
  • Raised items such as low curbs used to delineate bike lanes create hazards
  • Bicyclists may leave the bike lane for such maneuvers as passing and making turns
  • Shared lane markings can be used to fill gaps between two sections of roadway with bike lanes
Review Checklist:
  • Adequate lane width
  • Turning and straight through movements at intersections
  • Road hardware in bike lane
  • Drainage to prevent pooling and debris accumulation
  • Markings and paint symbols
  • Dashed striping where needed
  • Signs and striping
  • On-street parking and turnover
  • Width of parking lane
  • Extra pavement for car door zone

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Guide for Reviewing Public Road Design and Bicycling Accommodations for Virginia Bicycling Advocates