Guide to Best Practices

Bicycle Facility Design Guidelines

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Bicycle Facility Design Guidelines


Required and Recommended


Bicycle Parking

Secure short term and long-term parking must be provided at all destinations. Class I, II and III parking can be required by bylaw; careful design and placement criteria are recommended for best results.



Bridges and over-passes

Special attention is needed to ensure adequate protection from traffic, adequate railing height and materials, and adequate width for sharing with pedestrians. A railing at handlebar height and one at shoulder height should be provided, do not use vertical railings or chain link fences that can easily snag a handle bar and cause a crash.


CIP 20.1.8-9

Construction zones

Bicycle lanes are to be rerouted for construction; adequate signage, and lighting must be in place. Where metal plates provide temporary road surfaces, they must meet the road at right angles and a ramp of asphalt provides a feathered edge for cyclists.

Extruded Curbs

Extruded curbs should not be used to separate a bike lane from traffic as they present a hazard to the safe operation of the bicycle, make left hand turns impossible, and present cleaning difficulties


Drainage / Utility covers

Drainage and utility grates should be flush with the roadway surface and long openings should be placed at right angles to the wheel’s travel. Ideally, grates and utility covers should not be placed in the bike lane, and curb inlets should be used instead.




Intersections (including driveways) are the most likely place for car-bike collisions. Intersections should be carefully designed to reduce the chance of conflict. Driveways should have adequate sight lines to see all traffic on the road. Bike lanes at intersections and bike paths where they connect with streets should be carefully designed. Intersections with freeways should be grade-separated.

AASHTO 18, 31


Bicycle facilities should be adequately lit. Street lighting is usually sufficient for wide curb lanes and bike lanes; separated paths and bike parking areas require appropriate-scale lighting where evening walking and cycling is expected. Intersections of paths with roads must be well lit.



Regular maintenance is essential to ensure that the facilities are safe and comfortable to use. Road and path surfaces should be swept regularly to remove glass and other debris. They should be given the same or greater maintenance standard as motor vehicle travel ways due to the absence of the “sweeping action” from regular car travel.


On Road Facilities
Bike Lanes

All roads should be thought of forming the bicycle network. On major urban roads, bike lanes can increase safety and reduce conflicts with other vehicles. Bike lanes should always be one-way facilities carrying traffic in the same direction as adjacent motor vehicle traffic. The minimum width for a bike lane should be 1.2 m excluding curb and gutter, 1.5m when next to a parking lane). Bike lanes should end well in advance of intersections, with dashed lines adjacent to right turn lanes to encourage traffic to merge into the bike lane before turning. Bike lanes should be located to the far right of the road, or between the parking lane and the travel lane.

AASHTO 18 - 20

FHWA 16-21

Wide Curb Lanes

Curb lanes should be between 12 and 14 feet, or 3.7-4.3m. Wider curb lanes may encourage two motor vehicles to operate in one lane.

AASHTO 14, 15

Shoulder Width

Wide shoulders are preferred for accommodating cyclists in rural areas and should be a minimum of 1.2 m when intended to accommodate bicycle travel. Where shoulders are narrower, they should not be signed as bikeways. Wider width is desirable when speeds are higher than 55km/h, there is a large percentage of truck traffic or if obstructions exist.

AASHTO 14, 15

Bicycle Boulevards and Local Streets

Bicycle boulevards are streets that encourage cycling and discourage motor vehicle traffic by means of traffic calming devices. On local streets, bicycle route signs may be desired where they form part of the bicycle network.

On–street parking

On-street parking can pose risks to cyclists who ride past, and people with disabilities as they exit their vehicles. Where cars are parallel parked, a bike lane may be provided between the road and parked cars if the bike lane is wide enough and far enough from the vehicles to avoid car doors opening into the bike lane. A bike lane should never be place to the right of parallel parking. Diagonal or perpendicular parking is very dangerous and bike facilities should be avoided in these areas. (WSDOT, 1995)

Pavement Structure

A bike facility may be cement, asphalt, or fine gravel screenings. However, the surface should be at least as smooth as that provided for vehicles and tree roots should be prevented from disrupting the smooth surface.

AASHTO 13, 32

Railroad Crossings

Railroad crossings should be at right angles to the rails as acute angles may trap the wheels and cause crashes. The travel way should be widened if the crossing angle is less than 45 degrees to permit a wider crossing angle. Warning signs and pavement markings should be posted before the crossing. Road surfaces should be flush with the rails. Rubberized flanges around the rails or removal of unused track can minimize the danger for cyclists.



Intermodal Linkages

Airports, rail, buses, and ferries permit cyclists to reach distant destinations. All trains should be designed to permit bicycles as checked baggage, or in the passenger car. Terminals should provide for secure bicycle parking, and areas may be provided for bicycle set up, and clear access to the station should be provided. Transit buses should be equipped with racks to carry at least two bicycles.



Ferries sometimes represent a vital link in the transportation system. Provide for bicycle traffic on vehicle and passenger ferries and at ferry terminals by dedicating bicycle routes through the terminal to boarding areas and providing secure and protected parking at the terminal and on the ferry to prevent damage, theft, and weather exposure.

Separated Facilities

Separated bicycle facilities should NOT be thought of as a substitute for accommodating bicycles on nearby roads. These paths should be considered extensions to the street system and meet an important recreational need. Two-way paths need careful attention to detail where they intersect with traffic. Twinned paths on each side of a road provide more safety, especially at intersections. The minimum width for a one-way path is 1.5 m, and a wider (4m+) path with markings down the center of the path may minimize conflicts where there is heavy traffic. Converting rail lines to trails provide good facilities with good sight lines and shallow grades. Good access including motor vehicle parking, water, toilets, and telephones make for a successful facility.

AASHTO 15 - 36

Sidewalks and Ramps

Cycling on the sidewalk is generally not recommended for safety reasons, as there is a high potential for collisions at driveways and intersections.

Traffic Control Devices

As bicycles are legal vehicles on the road, they do not require special traffic control devices. The same standards which apply to street signs and highways also apply to bicycle facilities. High-traction, non-skid paint should be used on road surfaces.


paint 32

signals 13

Traffic Control Devices


Bollards should be placed where vehicles may enter a bike path; one should be placed in the center, with bollards to the side, each providing 1.5 m clearance. They should be painted white and have reflectors.


Traffic Signals

All traffic signals should be adjusted to detect bicycles. Quadrapole loop detectors are more sensitive to bicycles and may be more effective than standard loop detectors. The most sensitive area of the detector should be stenciled with a bicycle symbol. The right-most and left turning lane should be stenciled in this way. The clearance interval for intersections should be at a bicycle speed of 16km/h with 2.5 second braking time


Traffic Signs

Standard signs are adequate for most bicycle facilities. Signs specifically directed at cyclists should be smaller and lower than normal street signs. Signs should be between 1.2 and 3.0 meters in height and should be 1.0 metres from the edge of the bicycle path to provide adequate clearance for cyclists who may veer off the path to pass. Consideration should be given to adequate stopping distance to heed the warning or information on the sign.

BIKE ROUTE signs should be used in conjunction with sub-plates indicating destinations (with distances) to be found along the signed route. In addition, BIKE ROUTE signs must be part of a comprehensive system. At junctions of separated trails with roadways, the name of the road should be clearly visible to trail users.



Traffic Calming Devices

Traffic calming measures usually benefit cyclists by removing or slowing traffic. Some measures need to be carefully designed to accommodate cyclists. For example, where speed bumps or diverters are used, a by-pass area for cyclists should be included. Where pinch-points are used, rolled curbs reduce the danger of being squeezed. Traffic calming devices can also be used as refuges for cyclists crossing two-way busy roads. Refuges should be 3 metres wide, by two metres across and provide handrails and bollards.

CIP 20.1.11

User Conflict

Design features and user policies should be used to minimize conflicts between cyclists, pedestrians and equestrians.



It is important that vegetation near roadways and paths be maintained. All vegetation above .3 meters in height should be trimmed back a least 1-m on each side of all paths. Vegetation at intersections should be trimmed to provide adequate sight lines. Tree and shrub roots may cause disruption in a path surface, removal of trees within 1 m of the path and the use of root barriers may help to reduce problems.


Workplace Facilities

Many people say that they would try commuting by bike but feel they need a shower and a place to change clothes once they arrive at work. Some jurisdictions are requiring that such facilities be provided when a building is built or remodeled. Clothes lockers, large enough to accommodate a week’s worth of clothes and toilet articles, can be provided. A bathroom may be remodeled providing a shower stall.

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