A Guide to Design, Policies, and Operational Characteristics for Shared Bicycle/Bus Lanes

Travel time for bicycles and buses can be improved with dedicated shared bicycle/bus lanes, so that neither is hindered or endangered by congestion from auto traffic. Shared bicycle/bus lanes are sometimes used in central business districts or urban areas where room for exclusive bicycle lanes is limited, and where motor vehicle congestion warrants a separate facility for buses. A recent bicycle design manual (Bicycle Design/Best Practices Manual, prepared by Alta Planning + Design for the City of San Diego, Appendix B, 2009, p.24.) lists the following a potential locations for bicycle/bus lane implementation: congested streets with no existing bicycle lanes and with moderate or long bus headways; streets with no existing bicycle lanes and with moderate bus headways during peak hours; or places that provide no reasonable alternative routing alignment. Shared bicycle/bus lanes are presently not in common use in the U.S., although they do exist in some cities in California, Oregon, Illinois, Massachusetts, Washington state, and Arizona. Such lanes also exist in Ottawa, Canada; Queensland, Australia; and some cities in The Netherlands and Ireland. As the concept becomes established, there exists some variation in definition of terms, and there is a range of designs that are considered to be shared use, including bicycle boulevards, bicycle/bus lanes, roadways restricted to bus and bicycle traffic only, and bicycles that can use bus-ways. Because there can be a significant difference in operating speeds between bicyclists and buses, the design and operation of shared use facilities need to address the potential conflicts and safety issues arising from bus/bicyclist interaction, changing conditions, intersections and complex traffic situations (Bicycle Design/Best Practices Manual, prepared by Alta Planning + Design for the City of San Diego, Appendix B, 2009, p.24.)