• How bicyclists, motorists and pedestrians can safely share the road

    Brighter Signs Mean Safer Roads

    Guidelines for increasing bike safety on the road

    • Two bicyclists, wearing helmets

      Healthy communities share the road, with motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians watching out for one another, respecting each other’s right-of-way and enjoying using our byways safely and responsibly.

      Ensuring bicyclist safety is more important than ever. The number of bicyclists on U.S. roads more than doubled from 1.4 billion in 2001 to 4 billion in 2009, according to The National Household Travel Survey1. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that commuters biking to work rose from 488,000 to 786,000 between 2008 and 2012².

      In August 2013, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) confirmed its commitment to helping communities create safe, accessible bicycle facilities, stating its support for “taking a flexible approach to bicycle and pedestrian facility design.” Urban Bikeway Design Guide3, published by the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) can help you stay up-to-date on proper signage, pavement markers and traffic control delineators vital to helping bikers know where it is safe to ride and helping motorists understand where they need to watch for bicycles and/or give them right of way

    Create safety with well-marked bike lanes, delineators, signage and signals

    Well-marked bike lanes allow bicyclists to travel at their preferred speed without interfering with car traffic and make it easier for motorists and pedestrians to predict bicyclists’ behavior. NACTO’s Urban Bikeway Design Guide provides helpful guidance on three crucial categories: pavement marking, wayfinding signage and bike signals.

    • Pavement markings

      Pavement markings vary throughout the U.S. from small dots a foot apart to stencils that take up a full lane. To minimize confusion with other traffic-control markings, NACTO recommends green pavement markings be used “either as a corridor treatment along the length of a bike lane or cycle track, or in limited locations as a spot treatment, such as a bike box, conflict area or intersection crossing marking.” Normal white bike lane lines should be used along the colored lane edges for consistency across facilities and for better nighttime visibility.

      Recommended pavement marking materials:

      • Paint: Sometimes including additives such as reflective glass beads for retroreflectivity and sand for skid resistance.
      • Durable liquid pavement markings (DLPMs) including epoxy and methyl methacrylate (MMA): Both are typically applied as a paint or spray, often skid-resistant, retroreflective and can adhere to concrete or asphalt surfaces.
      • Thermoplastic: A durable pavement marking made from polymer resins that becomes a homogenized liquid when heated and hard when cooled. Retroreflective and anti-skid materials can be added or applied.
      • Embedded: Colored asphalt composed of the same material as standard asphalt, but with a colored pigment added and installed as a thin layer over conventional asphalt.
      • Permanent high performance tapes: Durable retroreflective tapes for improved daytime visibility.
    • Delineators

      In the FHWA’s “Separated Bike Lane Planning And Design Guide”, delineators are noted as effective forms of separation and are considered “one of the most popular types of separation”4 because of cost, visibility and installation.

    • Road signs for bicyclists

      Bicycle identification and wayfinding signage

      Wayfinding signage identifies intersecting bikeways for cyclists and lets them know the distance and ride time to a variety of destinations, such as connecting bikeways, neighborhoods, commercial districts and transit hubs. NACTO requires bicycle identification and wayfinding signs be included on bicycle boulevards:

      • To provide a strong visual identity for the street and designate the corridor as a bicycle route, and
      • Where the boulevard turns or jogs onto another street to indicate how users can remain on the route.
    • Bike signals

      Bicycle signals make crossing intersections safer by clarifying when bicyclists can enter an intersection and by restricting conflicting vehicle movements. NACTO bike signal types and requirements:

      • Active warning beacons: For roadside installation. If center islands or medians exist, installing additional beacons can improve driver yielding behavior. Beacons should be unlit when not applicable.
      • Hybrid beacons for bike route crossing major street: Consists of a signal-head with two red lenses over a single yellow lens. Maintain signing and striping to help users understand this relatively unfamiliar traffic control.
      • Signal detection and activation: A push-button or automated detection device alerts the signal controller of a bicycle presence. Proper detection should accurately detect bicyclist and clearly guide bicyclist on how to activate detection.

      The bicycle pavement markings, signs and signals discussed here only touch on NACTO specifications and requirements for bicyclist, motorist and pedestrian safety. For more complete information, visit https://nacto.org/publication/urban-bikeway-design-guide.

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