U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
202-366-4000


Skip to content U.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway AdministrationU.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway Administration

Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology
Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations

 
Report
This report is an archived publication and may contain dated technical, contact, and link information
Publication Number: FHWA-RD-99-035
Date: October 1999

Bicycle Lanes Versus Wide Curb Lanes

Operational and Safety Findings and Countermeasure Recommendations

PDF Version (2.82 MB)

PDF files can be viewed with the Acrobat® Reader®

 

FOREWORD

There is a variety of on- and off-road bicycle facilities - each with its advantages and disadvantages. A thorough evaluation of the various kinds of facilities implemented in pro-bicycling communities has been needed by the traffic engineering profession. One of the studies under the FHWA's Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Research Program investigated the long-standing issue of whether bicycle lanes or wide curb lanes are preferable. Overall, the study indicated that both bicycle lanes and wide curb lanes can and should be used to improve riding conditions for bicyclists.

This document presents a summary of the research study, providing operational and safety findings and countermeasure recommendations regarding bicycle lanes and wide curb lanes. The information contained in this report should be of interest to State and local transportation engineers, planners, researchers, and bicycle coordinators.

Michael F. Trentacoste
Michael F. Trentacoste
Director, Office of Safety
Research and Development

Bicycle Lanes Versus Wide Curb Lanes: Operational and Safety Findings and Countermeasure Recommendations

 

TECHNICAL REPORT DOCUMENTATIION

1. Report No.

FHWA-RD-99-035

2. Government Accession No. 3. Recipient's Catalog No.
4. Title and Subtitle

Bicycle Lanes Versus Wide Curb Lanes: Operational and Safety Findings and Countermeasure Recommendations

5. Report Date
6. Performing Organization Code
7. Author(s)

William W. Hunter, J. Richard Stewart, Jane C. Stutts, Herman H. Huang, and Wayne E. Pein

8. Performing Organization Report No.
9. Performing Organization Name and Address

University of North Carolina
Highway Safety Research Center
730 Airport Road, CB #3430
Chapel Hill, NC 27599

10. Work Unit No.(TRAIS)
11. Contract or Grant No.

DTFH61-92-C-00138

12. Sponsoring Agency Name and Address

Office of Safety and Traffic Operations Research & Development
Federal Highway Administration
6300 Georgetown Pike
McLean, Virginia 22101-2296

13. Type of Report and Period Covered

Final Report
March 1995 - May 1998

14. Sponsoring Agency Code
15. Supplementary Notes

Contracting Officer's Technical Representative (COTR): Carol Tan Esse, HSR-20

16. Abstract

This report presents operational and safety findings and countermeasure recommendations from a comparative analysis of bicycle lanes versus wide curb lanes. The primary analysis was based on videotape of almost 4,600 bicyclists in Santa Barbara, CA, Gainesville, FL, and Austin, TX. The videotapes were coded to evaluate operational characteristics and conflicts with motorists, other bicyclists, or pedestrians.

Significant differences in operational behavior and conflicts were found between bike lanes and wide curb lanes but varied depending on the behavior being analyzed. Wrong-way riding and sidewalk riding were much more prevalent at WCL sites compared with BL sites. Significantly more motor vehicles passing bicycles on the left encroached into the adjacent traffic lane from WCL situations compared with BL situations. Proportionally more bicyclists obeyed stop signs at BL sites; however, when a stop sign was disobeyed, the proportion of bicyclists with both "somewhat unsafe" and "definitely unsafe" movements was higher at BL sites. The vast majority of observed bicycle-motor vehicle conflicts were minor, and there were no differences in the conflict severity by type of bicycle facility. Bicyclists in WCLs experienced more bike/pedestrian conflicts while bicyclists in BLs experienced more bike/bike conflicts. An initial model fitted to the intersection conflicts showed no differences in the conflict rate by type of bicycle facility, but showed higher conflict rates for left turn movements.

The overall conclusion is that both BL and WCL facilities can and should be used to improve riding conditions for bicyclists. The identified differences in operations and conflicts appeared to be related to the specific destination patterns of bicyclists riding through the intersection areas studied and not to the characteristics of the bicycle facilities.

In addition to this implementation, there is a final report (FHWA-RD-99-034) containing a complete discussion of the research method, data collection procedures, and data analysis, as well as a guidebook (FHWA-RD-99-036) about innovative bicycle accommodations.

17. Key Words

Bicycle lane, wide curb lane, bicycle operations, bicycle maneuvers, conflicts

18. Distribution Statement

No restrictions. This document is available to the public through the National Technical Information Service, Springfield, VA 22161.

19. Security Classification (of this report)

None

20. Security Classification (of this page)

None

21. No. of Pages

31

22. Price
Form DOT F 1700.7 (8-72) Reproduction of completed page authorized

 

ResearchFHWA
FHWA
United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration