There are many types of bike facilities that when combined together, create connected bike routes using both streets and trails or bike paths to get around a community. Different cyclists like different facilities. Not one facility has been proven generally safer than any other. Comfort level varies widely making some facilities more favorable with beginner cyclists and other facilities more favorable with vehicular cyclists.
Bike path or multi-use trail:
A bike path or mutlt-use trail is generally a 10-foot wide paved or concrete path completely separated from traffic. These often form great recreational multi-use trails (for pedestrians, bikes, rollerbladers) in open space areas and along rivers such as Pueblo’s River Trail system. Sometimes these trails are soft-surface using a crusher fine material that is less expensive, more natural and easier on the joints of walkers and runners.
- Welcome cyclists of any ability level
- Enjoyable ride away from traffic noise, pollution. Also a great way to enjoy nature!
- NYC has created separated bike lanes with integrated bike and traffic signals to improve safety at intersections thus creating separated paths on busy streets. Watch Video
- Up to 4 times higher crash rate with cars when trail crosses streets if the trail runs parallel to the road. Traffic doesn’t look for traffic here, especially if riding against traffic. Photos of Pueblo Blvd and Hwy 50 path.
- Conflict between users is common with many beginner and different type of users (pedestrians, bikes, strollers). More safety concerns with winding trails, blind curves and poor surface maintenance. Also can be unsafe for cyclists going 10 mph or faster.
- Requires sufficient right of way access, open space corridors not always available in a city.
- Expensive to build at a minimum of $115,000 per mile or more.
Bike lane with on-street parking:
Bike lanes with on-street parking generally include two solid white lines 4 to 6 feet apart providing a lane for bicyclists between the right motor vehicle lane and on-street parking area that is 7-8-feet wide next to the curb. Pueblo has bike lanes on Union Avenue from the library down to Grand Avenue.
- Welcome cyclists willing to ride on a road with traffic.
- Provides visible space for cars and bikes to travel side by side. Some wide curb lanes provide sufficient space for cars and bikes to travel side by side but this is not always visible or believable making motorist or cyclist uncomfortable.
- More enjoyable ride on city streets with heavier traffic alerting cyclists and motorists that bicycles are welcome here
- Slows motor vehicle traffic by narrowing travel lanes to 10-12 feet rather than wide open lanes that encourage higher vehicle speeds than the posted speed limit.
- To park, cars have to cross the bike lane and some people double park in bike lanes so cyclists need to watch for vehicles.
- Bike lanes often put cyclists in the “door zone” next to parked cars. (door zone) NYC puts bike lanes on one-way streets on the left side of the road to avoid the driver side door zone.
- Some motorists and some cyclists think cyclists must stay in the bike lane. Sometimes bike lanes discourage cyclists from using the proper lane for turning (i.e. left turns should not be made from a bike lane on the right, cyclist should signal and move over to the left turn lane on roads 35 mph or less).
- Confusion and conflict arises at intersections with right turn only lanes. A straight through cyclist and a right turning vehicle cross paths in the right turn only lane. Striping and signing these areas is a challenge
Bike lane without on-street parking:
A bike lane without on-street parking is a solid white line 4 to 6 feet from the curb providing a lane for bicycles alongside the right travel lane. Parking is not allowed in these bike lanes. Pueblo has this type of bike lane on the Union and Main Street bridges and in City Park and Mineral Palace Park. Photos The striping along Hollywood, Vinewood and Constitution are actually parking lanes but are used by cyclists when not obstructed by parked cars.
- Welcome cyclists willing to ride on a road with traffic.
- Provides visible space for cars and bikes to travel side by side. Some wide curb lanes provide sufficient space for cars and bikes to travel side by side but this is not always visible or believable making motorist or cyclist uncomfortable. Photo of 18th bridge over train tracks.
- More enjoyable ride on city streets with heavier traffic alerting cyclists and motorists that bicycles are welcome and expected here.
- Naturally slows motor vehicle traffic by narrowing travel lanes to 10-12 feet rather than wide open lanes that encourage higher vehicle speeds than the posted speed limit.
- Some cyclists might have a false sense of security with their own lane and don’t pay attention to right turn only lanes ahead and surrounding traffic that may be turning.
- Often cities stripe a bike lane with less than the minimum recommended 4-foot width. A stripe with a 2-foot or less width can be more dangerous and give cyclists a false sense of security. The lane is probably too narrow to share safely and should be a shared lane encouraging the cyclist to take more of the lane to deal with road debris or other hazards.
For more information see Where are bike lanes needed?
similar to a bike lane without on-street parking but found in more rural areas and roadways without curb and gutter.
- Provides space for cyclists and other slower moving vehicles to travel without obstructing the travel lane.
- More enjoyable ride on roads with heavier traffic.
- Protects the roadway from damage and motor vehicles from rollovers when vehicles drifting off the edge of the roadway.
- Shoulders often have sand, broken glass and debris that can be dangerous to cyclists or damage tires. If not maintained, cyclists may not use the shoulder and still use the lane frustrating motorists.
- Often paved shoulders are minimal and less than the minimum recommended 4-foot width for a bike lane. The faster the motor vehicle traffic, the more distance is needed between a cyclists and overtaking motorist to handle wind blast.
Sharrows and Taking the Lane:
Bicyclists have a right to be on the road and need to follow the rules of the road by signaling lane changes and turns and using the rightmost lane serving their destination.
- Sharrow – a pavement marking showing motorists and cyclists where cycists should ride in the shared lane (FAQ on Sharrows)
- Vehicular Cycling: On roads with 35 mph or less speed limit - DRIVE your bike, communicate with other road users with hand signals, using a mirror and turning your head to look for traffic and you will be surprised how well it works. (Bike Driving on SoCal Arterials, Sharing the Road locally).
- On higher speed roads, circumstances (cyclist ability, speed, comfort, traffic speed and volume) will vary more widely and DRIVING your bike may not as safe. Use extra caution and consider making left turn like a pedestrian if needed
Whatever bike facility is used on a certain road will carry its own benefits and risks.
- Planners and engineers need to design the best facility economically possible that will meet the needs of average cyclists.
- The risks of any facility can be minimized with educating cyclists and motorist.
- Some strong opinions debating the value on danger of certain bike facilities remain.