Bicycle Safety Guide and Countermeasure Selection System
Contraflow bike lane. Photo by Toole Design Group
Bicyclists are expected to follow established rules-of-the-road. A particular example is riding in the same direction as motor vehicle traffic. However, there are certain situations where the placement of a bicycle lane counter to the normal flow of traffic may increase safety or improve access for bicyclists. Contraflow bike lanes, when designated on a street that has one-way motor vehicle traffic, even for a short segment, may enhance connectivity to the broader bicycle network and access to destinations, thereby reducing out-of-the-way detours and the desire for bicyclists to ride the wrong-way. The contraflow bike lane is a specialized bicycle facility that can be used in particular situations and is intended to reduce the number of conflicts between bicycles and motor vehicles and improve access for bicyclists. Contraflow lanes may also alleviate riding on a high-speed, high-volume route. However, there are safety concerns associated with contraflow riding, as this places bicycles in a position where motorists do not expect to see them. Thus, a careful assessment should be made before installation.
Contraflow bike lanes can be found in cities in the United States with large numbers of bicyclists, including Cambridge, MA (see case study); Boulder, CO; Madison, WI; and Eugene, OR.
Contraflow bike lanes create specialized on-street facilities for bicyclists that can be used to enhance bike connectivity. They can improve safety and bicyclist behavior by reducing out-of-direction riding and the wrong-way riding that may occur where the most direct or comfortable route is a one-way street. This treatment can also be used to provide an alternative to riding on a high-speed, high-volume route.
See countermeasure costs for bike lanes.
Authors and Acknowledgements