How Wide is a Bike Lane?


Herman asked:  Is there a minimum width requirement for a bike lane to be a bike lane?


Generally, a bike lane on a curb and gutter roadway is four feet wide, not including the gutter pan.   On a flush shoulder roadway (No curb) it is five feet wide for new construction, but can be four feet for repaved roadways.

Florida Department of Transportation

Plans Preparation Manual

8.4.1 Bicycle Lanes

Where required by Table 8.1.1, a bicycle lane shall be provided for each direction of travel on the roadway. Bicycle lanes shall be marked in accordance with Design Standards and the MUTCD.

On curb and gutter roadways, a 4-foot minimum bicycle lane width measured from the lip of the gutter is required. This provides for a 5.5-foot width to the face of curb when FDOT Type F curb and gutter is used. The 1.5-foot gutter width should not be considered as part of the rideable surface area, but this width provides useable clearance to the curb face. A minimum width of 5 feet shall be provided when the bicycle lane is adjacent to on-street

parking, a right-turn lane, guardrail or other barrier.

On flush shoulder roadways, the paved shoulder described in Section 8.4.2 should be marked as a bicycle lane in or within 1 mile of an urban area.

Where parking is present, the bicycle lane shall be placed between the parking lane and the travel lane and have a minimum width of 5 feet. If the parking volume is substantial or the turnover is high, an additional 1 to 2 feet of width should be provided if available.

At intersections with right turn lanes, the bicycle lane shall continue adjacent to the through lane; between the through lane and the right turn lane, and shall be 5 feet in width for new construction and reconstruction projects. On RRR projects where the bicycle lane is required in accordance with Chapter 25, a 5-foot bicycle lane width should be provided (4- foot minimum).

Bicycle lanes shall be one-way facilities and carry bicycle traffic in the same direction as adjacent motor vehicle traffic. On one-way streets, bicycle lanes should generally be placed on the right side of the street. A bicycle lane on the left side of the street can be considered if it will substantially reduce the number of potential conflicts, such as those caused by frequent bus traffic, heavy right-turn movements, high-turnover parking lanes, or if there is a significant number of left-turning bicyclists.

8.4.2 Paved Shoulders

A paved shoulder is a portion of a roadway which has been delineated by edge line striping, but does not include special pavement markings or signing for the preferential use by bicyclists. Paved shoulders shall be 5 feet in width for new construction, reconstruction and RRR projects, however existing 4-foot paved shoulders on RRR projects may be retained.

A paved shoulder of at least 4 feet in width is considered to be a bicycle facility, however a minimum 5-foot clear width between the traveled way and the face of curb, guardrail or other roadside barrier is required.

11 Comments on “How Wide is a Bike Lane?

  1. I don’t think that really answers the question. It’s like saying that there are no door zone bike lanes in Florida because the standards prohibit them, when there clearly are.

  2. Door zone bike lanes are not prohibited. We may not like them, but they are in the roadway design guidelines above.

    “Where parking is present, the bicycle lane shall be placed between the parking lane and the travel lane and have a minimum width of 5 feet. If the parking volume is substantial or the turnover is high, an additional 1 to 2 feet of width should be provided if available.”

    • Bad example. My point is that the FDOT standards do not legally define what is and is not a bike lane. A three-foot lane, fully striped and marked, is “a lane marked for bicycle use” despite not meeting the standards.

  3. A three foot shoulder or part of the roadway marked as a bike lane is not permitted by the standards as described above. These are the legal requirements for installing bike lanes on state roadways in Florida. Another publication for other roadways, the Florida Greenbook, uses similar standards. Notice the use of four feet and five feet in those standards. No mention of three feet. They may exist, but they are not within the guidelines for roadway construction and maintenance. If you know of such a problem, you should report it to your local roadway officials.

  4. My understanding is that the MUTCD standards adopted by FDOT have the effect of law. In other words, they publish the standards and must comply with them. If they don’t certain liability is attached, similar to a statute. I believe that is derived from this statute.
    s. 316.0745 – Uniform signals and devices
    (1) The Department of Transportation shall adopt a uniform system of traffic control devices for use on the streets and highways of the state. The uniform system shall, insofar as is practicable, conform to the system adopted by the American Association of State Highway Officials and shall be revised from time to time to include changes necessary to conform to a uniform national system or to meet local and state needs.
    If any of you attorneys out there can explain this better, please do.

  5. Suggest that you measure it. The entire paved surface is the bike lane, not just to the apparent stripe on the outside edge. It looks like they tried to obscure a previous edge line. One of the problems is maintenance of a bike lane and the overgrowth of grass. Such issues should be brought to the attention of local roadway officials.

    • That “apparent stripe on the outside edge” is a gutter.
      They retrofitted the bike lanes when the elementary school at the end of the street opened. (Students tend to use the sidewalk anyway.) Previously it was just a normal two-lane road with (I believe) no centerline.

  6. Measure it from the center of the stripe to the gutter edge. Even the 2007 Greenbook has a minimum of four feet for a bike lane. If it is less than four feet, it does not meet minimum standards, and I suggest contacting roadway officials.

  7. Geo,

    Thank you for the answer, and I apologize if I’ve opened a can of worms with my question.

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