This post updated March 29, 2013 to reflect new standards documents.
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:
- Maryland’s main bikeway design guide is SHA’s 2007 Bicycle and Pedestrian Design Guidelines. Many other states and cities have design guides as well (Minnesota for example).
- The SHA’s Policy on Marked Bicycle Lanes contains useful bike lane practices that helped me in some difficult situations.
- The 2007 Maryland MUTCD provides signing and marking standards that amend guidance in the federal MUTCD. Other individual states have their own MUTCDs.
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.