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Bicycles share travel lanes with motorists without any special facilities throughout the road network. However, a wide curb (or outside) lane allows motorists and bicyclists to comfortably share the lane side-by-side and lets a motorist safely pass a bicyclist without encroaching on the adjacent lane. A wide outside lane can improve traffic flow while also providing significant improvements for bicyclists.
Design Standards & Guidelines::
  • Wide curb lane width that accommodates motorist and bicycle sharing: 14 feet min.
  • Wide curb lane width that accommodates motorist and bicycle sharing with steep uphill grade, obstacles or on-road parking: 15 feet
  • Maximum recommended wide curb lane width to discourage side-by-side motor vehicles: 15 feet

Design & Safety Issues to Consider:
  • It may be possible to restripe to create a wide curb lane by reducing width of adjacent lanes to as little as 10 feet and still retain adequate capacity for vehicles
  • Wide curb lanes may encourage motorists to drive faster
  • Gutter area should not be included in calculating width of curb lane
  • Consider striping a bike lane if curb lane is wider than 15 feet
  • The "Share the Road" sign can be used to alert motorists to the expected presence of bicyclists: see MUTCD for guidance on use
  • Shared lane marking (formerly known as sharrow) can assist with lateral positioning of bike in wide curb lane: see MUTCD for guidance on dimensions and use
Review Checklist:
  • Can motorists safely pass bicyclist in same lane?
  • Road surface condition
  • Obstacles or road hardware
  • Gutter space not included in width calculation
  • Signs and wayfinding
  • Would shared lane marking assist with bike positioning?

Wide curb lane with shared lane marking (sharrow) and share the road sign

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