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Bike Lanes: Different Strokes for Different Spokes

Without trudging too deep into the swamp of municipal politics, it’s safe to say that bike infrastructure makes roads—well—safe. It protects fixie bike riders from heavier vehicles and pedestrians, and provides a sense of security for new cyclists. Most importantly, bike infrastructure decreases congestion and promotes harmony among urban citizens.

It’s important to stress, though, that bike infrastructure is more than just segregated bike lanes. It takes many forms, and different environments will call for different solutions. Below, Regal has listed a variety of bike infrastructure projects found in cities across Canada and around the world.

Bicycle Lanes

The most typical form of cycling lane in North America, the white-painted bicycle lane is located on the right-hand side of the road and indicates a path that is meant to be exclusive to cyclists. Motorists are allowed to cross the lane to park or when the white line is dashed.

Woonerfs

Woonerf is a Dutch word that literally translates as “living yard,” but for cyclists, it means “priority.” Woonerfs are streets designed for cars, pedestrians and cyclists, with legal right of way given to the latter two. Markings exist where a traditional curb may have. While hundreds of these streets exist in the Netherlands, a network woonerfs will soon make their debut in Toronto’s new West Don Lands community.

Bike Boxes

Also known as “advanced stop lines,” bike boxes allow cyclists to edge in front of cars at intersections when the light is red. These painted zones allow cyclists to make left turns more easily and (should) prevent them from getting hit by cars on right turns.

Shared Lane or Sharrows

Sharrows are painted markers (bike symbols with two chevrons) that remind commuters that cyclists have the same rights to the lane as cars. Their position in the road indicates the ideal cyclist position in the lane. Sharrows also urge drivers to be mindful of their surroundings and give cyclists proper space.

Contra-Flow Lanes

Contra-flow lanes are painted yellow lines that indicate cyclists can travel two ways on streets that are one-way for all other vehicles.

Buffered Lanes

Buffered Lanes increase the separation between bike lanes and auto lanes. Painted lines, parking lanes, or both, can create the buffer zone. This system places cyclists right next to the curb and makes use of existing pavement and drainage.

Bollards

Bollards—posts that are installed along the outside of bike lanes to make the separation clear to drivers—are very popular in Montreal and European cities. The posts can be flexible or rigid, and allow cyclists to merge with the automotive road when necessary

Extruded Curbs, Walls, and Islands

These types of bike lanes generally feel the most safe to cyclists as they make separation highly visible, and provide barriers to motorized traffic. Separating the cyclists from the road could be concrete walls, low curbs, islands, and planters, among many solutions.

Raised Lanes and Pavement Level Paths

These bike lanes are located in the space between the sidewalk and the street. They are vertically separate from automotive traffic. Painted lines or pavement of a different colour distinguish raised lanes and pavement level paths. Popular in Germany, these lanes discourage other vehicles from parking in cycling 

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