5 Easy Ways to Make a Bike Lane Not Rubbish

Planning a bike lane can't be easy - but these are the major mistakes to avoid...

Admittedly, we’re not road planners. We understand that painting a white line along the side of the road to give cyclists a little extra room is probably more complicated than it sounds. It must be – because we’ve seen some pretty impressive botch jobs in our time.

Creating ‘the perfect bike lane’ probably is a science, and we can’t claim to offer the ultimate solution. However, there are certainly a couple of common practices that are guaranteed to turn a well intentioned bike lane into an instant failure.

Here’s a look at five mistakes to be avoided…

Don’t have it run alongside parked cars

Cyclists should always ride a doors width away from a parked car. Why? In case the inhabitants of the car open the door without checking the mirrors, thus creating a surprise obstacle course for our rider.

If the lane is quite wide, it is possible for the rider to stay on the edge of the lane, and maintain the appropriate distance, but often there isn’t enough room and the alternative is using the road, rendering the lane useless.

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Don’t place obstacles in the lane

Weaving, ducking, diving – all good skills for a cyclist to practice if they want to take their riding to a higher level – maybe 25mph pack riding in a road race. Your average commuter probably doesn’t need to practice weaving through cones, or bollards, or riding the fine line between railing and pavement.

Don’t have it weave around existing obstacles

Alright – so the obstacle was there and it’s hard to plan around it. However, there are ways to do this, and ways not to. Creating a roller coaster zig-zag path: probably not ideal. Having the path encompass an entire bus stop: probably not ideal. The top right example isn’t so bad, but it could do with being more gradual, so the rider doesn’t need to make sudden movements that could upset pedestrians to stay within the lines.

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Don’t allow cars to park in it

What’s actually the point in creating a segregated bike lane, and then not leaving it clear for use? A parked car in the bike lane means the cyclist has to move away from their straight line, pull out into the road, and hope the drivers also sharing that road are paying attention. It’s surely safer to have no bike lane than have cyclists weaving between bike lane and road.

Don’t stop the bike lane abruptly and leave the cyclist with nowhere to go

Ah – our favourite ‘love to hate’ – the road to nowhere. Of course, the bike lane does have to end somewhere, but it would be helpful if more consideration was taken over where exactly that should be. A grass verge at the edge of the road? A metal fence with the cyclist on the wrong side of the road? Not the best.

The ideal situation is having the bike lane end as the traffic calms, or the road widens – with the cyclist pointing in the correct direction, either on the road or next to a drop down curb, so that they can get back into the rhythm of sharing the road with traffic smoothly.

Liked these? Check out our gallery ‘Bad Bike Lanes: 15 Things No Cyclist Ever Wants to See In Their Path’.


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