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All roadways should be designed with the assumption that they will be used by bicyclists, unless bicycling is specifically prohibited on a road by the Virginia Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB). Safe, convenient and well-designed roadways benefit road users and can encourage bicycle use and transit connections. Any new facilities may be in service for decades, so the design is critical for users. Once construction is completed, changes are not easy to make. Many small design details affect safety and connectivity for bicycling.
Design Standards & Guidelines::
Numerous standards, guidelines and policies are followed in roadway design including:
  • AASHTO, A Policy on Geometric Design of Highways and Streets (the Green Book): road design guidelines
  • FHWA, Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD): standards for all signs, signals and markings
  • AASHTO, Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities (the Bike Guide): guidelines for bicycling facilities
  • TRB, Highway Capacity Manual (HCM): computations for road facility capacity and quality of service
  • VDOT engineering design manuals: Virginia-specific guidance and standards
  • County/City standards: standards and requirements that may differ on a local basis
  • AASHTO guidance is for lanes of 10 to 12 feet in width. The VDOT standard design is 11 or 12 feet depending on the design speed and amount of truck traffic. In some locations, local roads have 10-foot wide travel lanes.

If minimum standards or guidance cannot be met, it may be possible to obtain a design exception or variance at the local level.
Design & Safety Issues to Consider:
  • Bicyclists should be considered in all phases of road design from planning through construction
  • Bicycle users have the same destination and access needs as other users of the road
  • Crash reduction and prevention are important design factors
  • Trip convenience and connectivity need to be accommodated to encourage use
  • Bicyclists must be able to see and be seen and have sufficient reaction time
  • On-street parking or bus stops may increase the potential for conflict with vehicles
  • Signs are needed for bicycle users as well as motorized users
  • Better lighting can alleviate concerns and increase bicycle usage rates as well as improve safety
  • Skills, confidence and preferences of a range of bicycle users should be considered
  • Planned future maintenance requirements should be taken into account in design decisions
Review Checklist:
  • Bicycling accommodated?
  • Types/range/volume of users
  • Design speed/operating speed
  • Trip convenience, connections
  • Intersections and crossings
  • Adequate sight distances
  • Type and location of parking
  • Location of bus stops
  • Obstructions, buffers and clearances
  • Lighting, signs, and paint markings
  • Drainage and water pooling
  • Curving roads and hills

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