Jul 082012

This post updated March 29, 2013 to reflect new standards documents.

Have you ever wanted to know the proper width of a bike lane, the maximum safe grade of a shared use path, or the correct configuration of bike lane lines painted in an intersection?

Several bike-oriented standards and guides answer such questions, published at the federal, state, county and city levels.  Also some independent organizations publish guides for bikeway design and overall urban design.

Here are documents at the national level that bike advocates should be familiar with:

  • The definitive nationwide guide to bike facility design is 2012 Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities, published by AASHTO.  Unfortunately it costs $144 for either a print or online copy (and you won’t find it anywhere online for free).   Please contact me if you want to view or borrow my copy. The previous version, published in 1999, is free.
  • The federal guide governing signs, pavement markings and signals is the 2009 Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices or MUTCD.  I refer to it a lot.  The document is free, woohoo!
  • The National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) publishes its 2011 Urban Bikeway Design Guide, which contains a lot of good ideas and best practices.   In addition to the online version, there’s a print version consisting of two files (base document and the Annotated Plans).  The online and print versions don’t appear to be 100% identical.

Here are the most important documents at the Maryland level:

At the Montgomery County level there is this:

  • The Montgomery County Road Code.  This tome contains road design standards of vital importance to all road users.  Much of it is devoted to roadway dimensions, including width of bike lanes and many other elements affecting cyclists.

I often rely on these documents to discover appropriate solutions, cite minimum dimensions, defend advocates’ solutions, and of course to sound more knowledgeable at parties transportation meetings.

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