Combination Lanes:

This combination lane in Madison, WI, has little bus and bike traffic, which can result in use of the lane by other motor vehicles at peak hours.

Photo by Arthur Ross

Photo by Michael King
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A combination lane usually refers to a lane nearest the curb which serves various modes of traffic or movements. An example would be a transit-bicycle lane. Generally such multiple uses are operationally acceptable unless there is considerable bus and bike traffic. Signs might identify this lane as a priority BUS AND RIGHT TURNS ONLY EXCEPT BIKES. Another signing alternative is BICYCLES BUSES AND RIGHT TURNS ONLY. The lane would accommodate bus traffic, motor vehicles making right turns, and bicycles where it is not feasible to provide separate facilities.

These combination lanes are not without problems. If there is a shortage of bus and bike traffic, the lane can become another peak hour traffic lane. Provision of combination lanes on arterial streets with on- and off-ramps creates a difficult riding situation for bicyclists.

If bus and bike traffic need to be separated, the bus lane is usually nearest the curb, which reduces conflicts between buses accessing stops and bicycles traveling through, and between bus passengers and bicyclists. Separated lanes should reduce conflicts associated with buses moving in and out of a single bus and bike lane.

Communities with shared bike/bus lanes include Santa Cruz, CA; Philadelphia, PA; Tucson, AZ (case study #16); and Toronto, ON.

Purpose

  • Create on-street travel facilities for bicyclists where it is not feasible to provide a completely separate bicycle facility or lane.
  • Create separated space from higher-speed traffic lanes for bicyclists.

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Considerations

  • Provide appropriate lane width.
  • Provide appropriate signs.
  • Evaluate the amount of right-turning motor vehicles to determine if the use of a combination lane is appropriate.
  • Determine if special signs or markings are necessary for situations such as a high volume of motor vehicle right turns.
  • Ample bus and bike traffic may create a "leap frog" effect with buses and bikes passing each other frequently.

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Estimated Cost

The cost for markings and signs for a bus-bike lane is in the range of about $100 per sign, posted about every 0.2 km (eighth of a mile), and painted pavement symbols spaced throughout.

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Case Studies

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