Despite being used successfully for decades in Europe, Advisory Bike Lanes (also known as advisory shoulders), are an emerging facility type in North America and can be an effective tool for communities to provide bicycle lanes on streets that are otherwise too narrow to accommodate them.
Alta’s Innovation Lab has produced a white paper that explores the current US guidance and lessons learned from 10 North American early adopting communities. The Small Town and Rural Multimodal Networks Guide includes guidance on the design of “advisory shoulders” — this work builds upon that guidance.
Our white paper provides one element of an expanding body of knowledge; however, it should not be the sole resource used for implementation of advisory bike lanes. It is hoped that additional study of this facility type in the US will continue to provide improved guidance.
Advisory Bike Lanes
An Advisory Bike Lane defines a preferred space for bicyclists and motorists to operate on narrow streets that would otherwise be a shared roadway environment. Roads with Advisory Bike Lanes accommodate low to moderate volumes of two-way motor vehicle traffic and provide a prioritized space for bicyclists with little or no widening of the paved roadway surface. Because of their reduced cross section requirements, Advisory Bike Lanes have the potential to open up more roadways to more comfortable bicycle travel at an affordable cost.
Unlike dedicated bicycle lanes, which prohibit motor vehicle use, an Advisory Bike Lane overlaps with the motor vehicle travel area and it is expected that motorists will regularly encounter meeting or passing situations where driving in the bike lane is necessary and safe.
At low volumes, conflicting bicyclist/motorist interactions are limited, and the design can maintain a comfortable environment for bicyclists.
The white paper’s appendices provide interested parties with an expanded view into the Federal Highway Administration standards and the request to experiment process by providing an evaluation report, sample striping plans, and international research, among other resources.
Download or view the white paper here.