Signed shared roadways

The AASHTO Guide (pg. 19) describes signed shared roadways (bike routes) as "those that have been identified by signing as preferred bike routes" and goes on to describe the reasons why routes might be so designated:

  • continuity between bicycle lanes, trails or other bicycle facilities
  • marking a common route for bicyclists through a high demand corridor
  • directing cyclists to low volume roads or those with a paved shoulder
  • directing cyclists to particular destinations (e.g. park, school or commercial district)

In addition, designation indicates that there are particular advantages to using the route rather than an alternative route. Signed shared roadways generally do not succeed in diverting cyclists away from routes that are more direct, faster, and more convenient even though they may be on quieter streets. Indeed, the Oregon DOT bicycle manual graphically shows how such efforts can actually create greater safety concerns and inconvenience for bicyclists by requiring them to cross major roads just to use a designated bicycle route. ODOT goes on to say:

"Directional signs are useful where it is recommended that bicyclists follow a routing that differs from the routing recommended for motorists. This may be for reasons of safety, convenience, or because bicyclists are banned from a section of roadway (the routing must have obvious advantages over other routes).

"ODOT recommends against the use of BIKE ROUTE signs and arrows along city streets with no indication to cyclists as to where they are being directed. Cyclists will usually ignore these signs if they send them out of direction."

The AASHTO guide recommends considering a number of factors before signing a route

  • the route provides through and direct travel
  • the route connects discontinuous segments of shared use paths or bike lanes
  • bicyclists are given greater priority on the signed route than on the alternate route
  • street parking has been removed or limited to provide more width
  • a smooth surface has been provided
  • regular street sweeping and maintenance is assured
  • wider curb lanes are provided compare to parallel roads
  • shoulders are at least four feet wide

In some cases, it may be appropriate to include information on distance, direction, and destination on shared use roadway signing. Shared roadway signing should not end at a barrier such as a major intersection or narrow bridge.

Critical Issues and Frequently Asked Questions

How often should I sign a shared signed roadway?

The AASHTO Guide (pg. 21) recommends signing a shared signed roadway every 1/4 mile (500m) and at every turn (both to mark the turn and to confirm that the rider has made the correct turn).