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Bicycles

Article

Planning for bicycles requires not only a knowledge base of facilities but also an understanding of bicyclists and how they use the transportation network. Bicyclists can generally be divided into two or three categories based on skill, experience, and age:

  • Group A: Advanced - Experienced riders who are comfortable operating a bicycle under most traffic conditions. This group includes bicycle commuters, bike club riders, and other cyclists who follow the rules of the road and ride on roadways with no special accommodations for bicyclists. In most communities, Group A comprises a small segment of the population, but logs the majority of bicycle miles ridden.
  • Group B: Basic - Casual or new adult and teenage riders who are less confident of their ability to operate in traffic without special provisions for bicycles. Some riders in this group will develop greater skills and progress to the advanced level, but nationally there will always be millions of basic bicyclists who prefer to have a clear separation between bicycles and motor vehicles.
  • Group C: Children - Pre-teen cyclists who typically ride close to home under close parental supervision. Because basic riders and children may have similar needs, these groups are often combined as Group B/C.

Bicycle planning generally promotes a "design cyclist" concept that recognizes and accommodates the needs of both Group A and Group B/C bicyclists.

Group A cyclists are best served by making every street bicycle-friendly by removing hazards and maintaining smooth pavement surfaces. Group B/C riders are best served in when designated bicycle facilities, such as signed and striped bicycle lanes and off-road trails following waterways and other linear open space corridors, are provided in key travel corridors.

While sidewalks may be the best choice for the youngest riders, they are typically not included in bicycle planning as bicycle facilities. It is important to recognize that sidewalks are pedestrian spaces, and their presence is not meant to substitute for or preclude bicyclist use of the roadway.

Ideally, every place type should be accessible for all bicyclists, regardless of skill or comfort level. However, throughout the St. Louis region, existing development patterns have created places with varying levels of bicycle-friendliness - both in terms of the distance between destinations and the types of physical infrastructure provided.

Certain places, such as downtown areas and school sites, which serve as major community activity centers should be designed to accommodate and encourage bicycle access by the broader cross-section of the community represented in the B/C bicycling group.

Bicycle Planning for Residential Neighborhoods:

Most residential areas are designed to minimize through traffic, and have streets intended to move vehicles at slow speeds. Schools are typically a major neighborhood destination and are served by residents living within easy bicycling distance.

Therefore, these place types should be designed with abundant bicycling opportunities. The edges of individual neighborhoods are critical locations for bicycle facilities, as they offer connectivity and access across perimeter roadways, into adjacent neighborhoods, and to nearby community destinations.

Plan for shared roadways within neighborhoods. Shared roadways are the most common bicycle facility found on residential streets. Because traffic volumes and speeds are typically low in residential areas, both Group A and Group B/C bicyclists can comfortably share street space with vehicles without the need for bicycle lanes and parallel paths.

  • Signed shared roadways (bicycle routes) may be used selectively within a neighborhood where it is desirable to designate a preferred route that may not be readily apparent. Bike route signs should be used in conjunction with supplemental destination plates and directional arrows.
  • Traffic calming measures that may be considered to reduce vehicular speed or volume will often benefits bicyclists as well. Certain measures, namely speed tables and curb extensions, need to be planned and designed with bicycle traffic in mind so they do not become barriers to bicycle travel on an otherwise great bicycling street.
  • In some locations, a network of bicycle-friendly residential streets may be created parallel to major arterials. These shared roadways or bicycle boulevards are provided to encourage cyclists to leave more dangerous arterials for lower-speed, lower-volume side streets. Amenities include unique pavement markings, route identification signs, and signs providing bicycle-scale destinations and distances, as shown in the images below. However, it is important to plan how users of a bicycle boulevard network on local streets can safely cross intersecting arterial streets.
Bicycle boulevard sign
Credit: Berkeley Transportation
Bicycle boulevard pavement marking
Credit: Berkeley Transportation

Use bicycle lanes to connect neighborhoods to surrounding areas. Bicycle lanes should be considered on residential connector streets (often called collectors) that offer connectivity from the neighborhood to surrounding areas, with moderate traffic volumes and moderate vehicular travel speeds. Bicycle lanes in residential settings should be placed between on-street parking and the through travel lane. The minimum space required for a bike lane plus parking is 11 feet where curb and gutter is not present, or 12 feet when adjacent to a curb face.

Use bicycle lanes to connect neighborhoods to surrounding areas. Bicycle lanes should be considered on residential connector streets (often called collectors) that offer connectivity from the neighborhood to surrounding areas, with moderate traffic volumes and moderate vehicular travel speeds. Bicycle lanes in residential settings should be placed between on-street parking and the through travel lane. The minimum space required for a bike lane plus parking is 11 feet where curb and gutter is not present, or 12 feet when adjacent to a curb face.

Collector streets usually have some form of intersection control where they meet with arterial streets. When bicycle-friendly traffic signals and bike lane continuity are provided, controlled intersections allow cyclists to more easily cross arterials.

Multi-use trail
Credit: Charlier Associates

Consider multi-use paths. Multi-use paths for bicycling, walking and other recreational activitiesare often a desired facility within residential neighborhoods, particularly for Group B/C cyclists in suburban areas. Multi-use paths are best suited to linear parks and other open space corridors separated from traffic conflicts.

Sidewalks are not bicycle facilities. It is important to remember thatsidewalksare not bicycle facilities, and should never be signed as such, even though many young children are taught by their parents to ride on sidewalks instead of in the street.