Share the Path Treatments:

A number of treatments and markings are available to encourage safe shared use as needed.

Photo by Dan Burden
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Photo by Todd Litman, Victoria Transport Policy Institute
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The diverse types, multiple skill and age levels, and other characteristics of shared-use path users may contribute to conflicts, falls, and crashes. Good path design, as well as shared-use policies, education, and perhaps enforcement may help bicyclists and other path users share off-road paths more safely and enhance their enjoyment.
Design and policies for accommodating multiple types of users should be developed on a case-by-case basis depending on local demand for different uses, expected volumes, and other factors. For example, if the path is expected to serve both commuter bicyclists and local pedestrians and child bicyclists, and there is sufficient corridor right-of-way, separate facilities may be desirable. For joggers, a gravel or dirt path may be provided beside a paved path. In most situations, separate facilities will, however, likely be considered infeasible or cost-prohibitive.

Other engineering treatments may encourage safer sharing of a single, two-way, multi-use facility. These include center-line striping to separate directions of travel with broken markings that indicate safe passing zones; special paving treatments to separate users; pavement markings at trail and roadway junctions that channelize users to appropriate crossings; signs, marking and paving treatments to clearly indicate right-of-way; and others.

Appropriate path use policies should also be developed since behaviors of users have much to do with preventing crashes and conflicts. Trail rules or etiquette may be posted at entrances and included on bicycling maps. Such path use guidelines include:

  • Slower users keep right
  • Use audible signal when passing
  • Pass only where sight-distance allows a safe maneuver
  • Use caution when riding near young children, pets, and other unpredictable path users, etc.

User guidelines might be promoted through a variety of community resources in addition to postings along the trail. Traditional traffic enforcement methods may be inappropriate for paths since non-motorized uses typically do not require a license and many users are children, but more positive, educational types of interventions may help if conflict or crash problems arise.

Guidelines for bicyclists produced by the League of American Bicyclists on sharing paths are available at The International Bicycle Fund ( has also posted guidelines for trail sharing including a model trail use ordinance.


  • Reduce conflicts and crashes on multi-use trails.

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  • Do not diminish the trail experience by over-designing specialized treatments.
  • Incorporate various user groups in planning and programs to enhance shared-use cooperation and enjoyment.
  • If enforcement is used, more positive, educational types of interventions may work better than penalizing trail users.

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Estimated Cost

Costs depend on program but would at a minimum include funding for staff planning time.

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Case Studies

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