A buffered bikeway on Wabash Avenue in Chicago

Better Bikeways: An Introduction

What is a better bikeway?

There is no official definition of a better bikeway, but here at Shasta Living Streets, we consider a better bikeway to be a path or lane for bicycles that is more than just a perfunctory requirement.

  • It is a bikeway that people of all ages and skills will feel comfortable riding.
  • It is a bikeway that will take people to places they want to go.
  • It is a bikeway that connects with other bikeways.
  • It is a bikeway located out of “the door zone.”
  • It is a bikeway wide enough for one cyclist to pass another.
  • It is a bikeway that varies by context to provide value to adjacent properties and neighborhoods.

Who benefits from better bikeways?

Everybody benefits—cyclists, pedestrians, motorists, businesses, and families.

What are the benefits of better bikeways?

  • Increased safety for motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists.
  • They’re good for businesses.
  • Better health outcomes.
  • Less people in cars means less congestion.
  • Better air quality.

What are some kinds of better bikeways?

Buffered Bikeways:

A buffered bikeway is a lane for bicycles featuring additional space that separates  the bicycle lane from the adjacent motor vehicle travel lane and/or parking lane.

Protected Bikeways:

A protected bikeways is a bikeway that is at street level and uses a variety of methods for physical protection from passing traffic, such as planters, K-rail, or bollards. 

Where can better bikeways be implemented?

Anywhere! Bikeways have been successfully implemented in small midwestern farm towns and megacities like Los Angeles, New York, and Washington D.C.

Are better bikeways expensive?

No! A buffered bikeway can be created with just a few stripes of paint. According to People for Bikes, a mile of buffered bikeway (with a 1.5′ buffer) typically costs between $8,000 to $16,000.  In comparison, the cost to construct a new 2-lane undivided road is about $2-$3 million per mile in rural areas and about $3-5 million in urban areas according to the American Road & Transportation Builders Association.

Bicycle infrastructure is much cheaper than automobile infrastructure., lasts longer, and can carry more people in the same amount of space.

Do people really want them here?

Yes! A recent Shasta Living Streets  survey found 94% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they would be more likely to ride their bicycle if there were better (protected or buffered) bikeways in town. 93% of the respondents said that a better (protected or buffered) bikeway would make them feel more comfortable riding on city streets.

How can I help?

Glad you asked!

  • Become a paid member of Shasta Living Streets.
  • Join our #betterbikeways social media campaign!
  • Volunteer with Shasta Living Streets.
  • Help explain better bikeways to your friends, families, and coworkers.

Where can I learn more about better bikeways?