Washington Bicycling Hub - Winter '04
New, Uniform Signage for Bike Lanes, Paths
Mr. Pekow, a seasoned Washington journalist, provides Bikexchange.com with continuing coverage of national legislative news on
Look for new traffic signs as you bicycle
along in the coming years. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has just
revised its Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), with a rewritten
chapter called Traffic Controls for Bicycle Facilities governing signs
and street markings for bike lanes.
By December 22, 2005, all states will have
to adopt the new code or their own code in “substantial compliance” with it.
If not, they can lose federal highway funds and will easily lose lawsuits filed
by any bicyclists injured in a non-compliant roadway. The rules apply to all
public roads owned by state and local governments.
Among the biggest changes in the next two
national code adopts a new bike lane sign. “It simplifies the message,”
says Richard Moeur of the Arizona Department of Transportation, chair of the
MUTCD Bicycle Technical Committee. Signs that say “Right lane bicycles
only” will be replaced because they “were confusing to motorists,”
Moeur says. “People didn’t interpret a five-foot strip as the right
lane” and other vehicles can legally enter the lane to make turns. The new
sign drops the word “only.” And the word “bicycle” will be truncated
to “bike.” Signs that say “Bicycle Lane Ahead” and “Bicycle Lane
Ends” will be replaced with redesigned signs featuring a picture of a
bicycle and the words “BIKE LANE” with plaques beneath them saying
“AHEAD” and “ENDS.”
signs saying “WRONG WAY” and plaques reading “RIDE WITH TRAFFIC” are
officially approved to warn bicyclists not to ride on the wrong side of the
street or opposite traffic on a one-way street. The signs will be posted
opposite traffic so motorists can’t read them and get confused.
will be easier for bicyclists to activate green lights. FHWA adopted a rule
to put markings on the road to tell bicycles the location of vehicle
detection devices plus signs directing bicyclists to the markings on the
pavement. FHWA is basing the code partially on road markings used in
California. But focus groups and tests showed that many cyclists didn’t
understand the pavement markings without signs. “I think it is something
bicyclists will probably pick up on pretty quickly,” Moeur says. But he
added that he doesn’t know how many bicycle activation devices exist now.
roads include both parking and bike lanes, pavement will indicate where to
park and where to pedal.
lanes will not be allowed to the right of a right turn only lane because
cyclists riding straight through an intersection from the right of a right
turn lane surprise motorists.
lanes will also not be allowed in the middle of a roundabout. Markings there
“have been found to cause a false sense of security for bicyclists
traveling through the roundabout with conflicting and turning traffic,”
FHWA concluded. The Oregon Department of Transportation agreed with the
sentiment but suggested the roundabout prohibition be changed from a
“standard” to “guidance” because “it is difficult to foresee all
possible circumstances.” FHWA disagreed.
MUTCD code also replaces the terms
“Bicycle Path” and “bicycle facilities” with “Shared Use Path” when
referring to off-road facilities.
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