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

This report is an archived publication and may contain dated technical, contact, and link information
Publication Number: FHWA-RD-99-034
Date: December 1999

A Comparative Analysis of Bicycle Lanes Versus Wide Curb Lanes

Final Report

PDF Version (2.96 MB)

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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 probicycling 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.

The research documented in this report provides a description of the research methodology, data collection procedures, and analysis used to compare the safety and operations of 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
Director, Office of Safety
Research and Development

A Comparative Analysis of Bicycle Lanes  Versus Wide Curb Lanes: Final Report



1. Report No.


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

A Comparative Analysis of Bicycle Lanes Versus Wide Curb Lanes: Final Report

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.


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
Subcontractor: Bicycle Federation of America

16. Abstract

This report is a comparative analysis of bicycle lanes (BLs) versus wide curb lanes (WCLs). The primary analysis was based on videotapes of almost 4,600 bicyclists (2,700 riding in BLs and 1,900 in WCLs) in the cities of Santa Barbara, CA, Gainesville, FL, and Austin, TX, as the bicyclists approached and rode through eight BL and eight WCL intersections with varying speed and traffic conditions. The intent was to videotape bicyclists who regularly ride in traffic. The videotapes were coded to learn about operational characteristics (e.g., intersection approach position and subsequent maneuvers) and conflicts with motor vehicles, other bicycles, or pedestrians. A conflict was defined as an interaction between a bicycle and motor vehicle, pedestrian, or other bicycle such that at least one of the parties had to change speed or direction to avoid the other. Both bicyclist and motorist maneuvers in conflict situations were coded and analyzed. This covered maneuvers such as a bicyclist moving incorrectly from the bicycle lane into the traffic lane prior to making a left turn, or conversely, a motor vehicle passing a bicyclist and then abruptly turning right across its path. Bicyclist experience data were also collected separately from the videotaping at each of the 16 data collection sites in each city through use of a short oral survey. Slightly more than 2,900 surveys were completed. These data were analyzed to learn more about the age, riding habits, and experience levels of the bicyclists riding through these intersections. Bicycle-motor vehicle crash data were also analyzed to determine if there were parallels to the videotape data.

In addition to this final report, there is a separate report (FHWA-RD-99-035) containing a synopsis of the key findings of the final report and recommended countermeasures, 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)


20. Security Classification (of this page)


21. No. of Pages

vii, 104

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


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