By Angie Schmitt, July 18, 2014
Contraflow bike lanes could soon be included in an influential traffic engineering guide.
Buffered bike lanes have been used in some American cities for
decades now, and an increasing number of cities are implementing
contraflow bike lanes. But only just now are these street designs
getting official recognition from powerful standard-setters inside the
U.S. engineering establishment.
Late last month, the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices gave its approval to 11 treatments, including these two bike lane configurations. Committee members also, as anticipated,
approved bike boxes and bike signals, which had been considered
“experimental,” as well as bike lane markings that continue through
This opens the way for these designs to be included in the Manual on
Uniform Traffic Control Devices. Without recognition in the MUTCD,
engineers in many cities are reluctant to install these treatments.
Official acceptance in the leading design manual would help make these
treatments more widespread — and that will help make American streets
safer for biking.
That’s still not a done deal. The committee approval is advisory, and
the group’s recommendation will now be sent to the Federal Highway
Administration for potential inclusion the the MUTCD. To get final
approval, the new guidelines must undergo a rule-making period where
they are reviewed by other engineering institutions that have
historically been averse to change, like the American Association of
State Highway and Transportation Officials.