Bikeway Design Best Practices

by / February 19, 2016

We recommend the following guides and manuals to any engineer or planner in California. Each one provides valuable advice on bikeway and roadway designs that are approved for any road in the state.


NACTO’s Urban Street Design Guide and Urban Bikeway Design GuidePublished by the National Association of City Transportation Officials, these guides have the same authority in California as the California Highway Design Manual. It provides a wide range of options for safe, comfortable bikeways. It lacks on an important piece of infrastructure: protected intersections. It was last updated in October 2013.

Caltrans’ Class IV Bikeway Guidance. Produced to comply with the Protected Bikeways Act of 2014, which we sponsored, this guide provides helpful direction for building class 4 bikeways. It authorizes protecting the bicycle lane from the roadway to create a separate bikeway with a barrier between it and moving traffic.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s Separated Bike Lane Planning and Design Guide provides 130 pages of the best advice in the country on planning, designing, and maintaining protected bike lanes. The manual is not in itself approved by California but almost none of its standards and designs conflict with California’s.

Model Design Manual for Living Streets
Ryan Snyder Associates  developed  the Model Street Design Manual in Los Angeles with national experts in living streets concepts. The manual focuses on all users and all modes, seeking to achieve balanced street design that accommodates cars while ensuring that pedestrians, cyclists and transit users can travel safely and comfortably. It also incorporates features to make streets lively, beautiful, economically vibrant as well as environmentally sustainable. Cities may use this manual in any way that helps them update their current practices, including adopting the entire manual, adopting certain chapters in full or part, modifying or customizing chapters to suit each city’s needs. The manual may be downloaded for free (NOTE: the manual is 300+ pages and contains many color images).

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