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This is a type of path physically separated from motorized traffic, usually made of asphalt and generally with two-way bike traffic. A shared-use path will be used by a variety of other users including pedestrians, runners, walkers with strollers, wheelchair users, toddlers and dogs. Preventing wrong-way bike usage when the path is designed for one-way travel is virtually impossible.
Design Standards & Guidelines:
  • Two-way path width: typically 10 feet min.
  • Two-way path width (heavy traffic): 12 or more feet
  • One-way path width: 6 feet min.
  • Right-of-way constraints: an 8-foot width can be adequate in rare instances for two-way paths
  • Lateral clearance to trees, poles, walls: 2 feet min.
  • Side-grading each side of path: 3-5 feet at max. slope of 6:1
  • Separation from adjacent roadway: 5 feet min.
  • Recommended barrier height when inadequate separation from roadway: 42 inch min.

Design & Safety Issues to Consider:
  • A shared-use path can serve a variety of uses including providing short cuts, connections, and commuter routes
  • A shared-use path is not a substitute for safe on-road design
  • Consider reducing the path width when inadequate rightof- way is available
  • In Virginia, bicyclists are permitted to use roadway even when shared-use path parallels the road
  • Intersections at path crossings have more safety issues
  • Path slopes should be kept to a minimum and a straighter path is generally safer for bicyclists
  • Warning signs may be needed when inadequate clearance provided to obstructions
  • Consider personal safety and lighting on isolated stretches
  • In addition to lighting, a painted white edge stripe can assist with night visibility
  • Frequent stops such as at crossings or driveways are a major disincentive to bicycling
  • Connections are needed between path and street system
  • Undesirable to locate path directly next to roadway as contraflow riders confuse motorists
Review Checklist:
  • Appropriate width for projected path users
  • Frequent driveways or intersections?
  • Will path be blocked by waiting vehicles?
  • Sight distance, bushes, trees
  • Striping, signs and lighting
  • Signs positioned for contraflow riders
  • Check for wrong-way bike travel beyond path end
  • Utility/rescue vehicles may need path access

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