Applicable Countermeasures

Bike lanes on a two-lane roadway.

Illustration by A.J. Silva

Photo by Shawn Turner
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Photo by Dan Burden
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Photo by Dan Burden
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Bike Lanes

Bike lanes indicate a preferential or exclusive space for bicycle travel along a street. Bike lanes are typically 1.2 to 1.8 m (4 to 6 ft) in width and are designated by striping and/or signs. Colored pavement (for example, blue or red bike lanes) or a different paving material has also been used in certain situations to distinguish bike lanes from the motor vehicle lanes. Use of colored bike lanes is being considered but is not yet an accepted MUTCD standard.2 Bike lanes are usually marked along the right side of the roadway and should be designated to the left of parking or right-turn lanes. Sometimes bike lanes are marked on the left side of a one-way street.

Adaptations to bike lanes have been used to solve local problems. An innovative bike lane transit stop treatment in Portland, OR, is used to reduce conflicts between bicyclists and streetcar transit stop users adjacent to a bike lane (see case study #13). (Adaptation for this treatment should be possible for a shared roadway situation.) Some communities also employ combination bike and bus lanes, a single lane nearest the curb that is shared by the two modes. This is generally workable unless there is considerable bike and bus traffic.

Bike lanes have been found to provide more consistent separation between bicyclists and passing motorists than shared travel lanes. The presence of the bike lane stripe has also been shown from research to result in fewer erratic motor vehicle driver maneuvers, more predictable bicyclist riding behavior, and enhanced comfort levels for both motorists and bicyclists.3 The extra space created for bicyclists is also a benefit on congested roadways where bicyclists may be able to pass motor vehicles on the right.


  • Create on-street, separated travel facilities for bicyclists.
  • Provide separate operational space for safe motorist overtaking of bicyclists.
  • Reduce or prevent the problems associated with bicyclists overtaking motor vehicles in narrow, congested areas.
  • Narrow the roadway or roadway motor vehicle traffic lanes to encourage lower motor vehicle speeds.

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  • Where bike lanes are to be considered, the road or street should be evaluated to determine if this facility is appropriate.
  • Provide adequate bike lane width.
  • Provide a smoothly paved surface and keep the bike lane free of debris.
  • Provide adequate space between the bike lane and parked cars so that open doors do not create a hazard for bicyclists.
  • Avoid termination of bike lanes where bicyclists are left in a vulnerable situation.
  • Determine if special signs or markings are necessary for situations such as a high-volume of bike left turns on a busy roadway.

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Estimated Cost

The cost of installing a bike lane is approximately $3,100 to $31,000 per kilometer ($5,000 to $50,000 per mile), depending on the condition of the pavement, the need to remove and repaint the lane lines, the need to adjust signalization, and other factors. It is most cost efficient to create bike lanes during street reconstruction, street resurfacing, or at the time of original construction.

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Case Studies

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