Guidance for Protected/Buffered Bike Lanes With Delineators

Principal Investigator:

John Hourdos, Director, MN Traffic Observatory, Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering

Co-Investigators:

Project Summary:

Separated bicycle lanes (SBLs) are a bicycle facility that employs both paint and a vertical element as a buffer between vehicle traffic and bicycle traffic. In 2016, the city of Minneapolis increased the total mileage of separated bike lanes in the city from 5.4 to 9.4 miles with plans to increase that to 30 miles by 2020. While many other cities around the U.S. are in the process of installing separated bike lanes as part of their non-motorized transportation networks, research on them has not kept pace. A preliminary review of current research provided in the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Separated Bike Lane Planning and Design Guide identified several gaps in existing research, including the effects of SBLs on vehicle traffic, the preferred speed and volume thresholds to recommend SBLs, and the differences in safety between one- and two-way SBLs. Despite safety being a major concern with SBLs, the guide states that "there are no existing [SBL] studies that have satisfied best practices for analyzing the safety of [SBLs]." The guide goes on to caution that even in cases where research on the safety or operational effects of SBLs does exist, "much of the highest quality research comes from outside the U.S." The FHWA guide also lists cost as a gap in knowledge about SBLs, saying, "Few benchmarks exist for separated bike lane costs, which vary extensively due to the wide variety of treatments and materials used." This project provides a thorough synthesis of current research and guidelines and a comprehensive analysis of the impacts of different midblock bike lane designs to help Minnesota-based agencies make data-driven design and planning decisions. Design variables include delineator type and spacing, land and buffer widths, and one- vs two-way bike lanes. Impacts being evaluated include installation, maintenance, and user costs as well as safety and facility usage.

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