Bicycle Boulevards

Bicycle boulevards are streets with low motorized traffic volumes and speeds, designated and designed to give bicycle travel priority. Bicycle Boulevards use signs, pavement markings, and speed and volume management measures to discourage through trips by motor vehicles and create safe, convenient bicycle crossings of busy arterial streets.

Design Elements

Many local streets with low existing speeds and volumes offer the basic components of a safe bicycling environment. These streets can be enhanced using a range of design treatments, tailored to existing conditions and desired outcomes, to create bicycle boulevards. Design treatments are grouped into measures that provide the following benefits.

  1. Route Planning: Direct access to destinations
  2. Signs and Pavement Markings: Easy to find and to follow
  3. Speed Management: Slow motor vehicle speeds
  4. Volume Management: Low or reduced motor vehicle volumes
  5. Minor Street Crossings: Minimal bicyclist delay
  6. Major Street Crossings: Safe and convenient crossings
  7. Offset Crossings: Clear and safe navigation
  8. Green Infrastructure: Enhancing environments

Many of the treatments presented in this section not only benefit people on bicycles, but also help create and maintain “quiet” streets that benefit residents and improve safety for all road users.

Naming and Branding

Many cities around the United States have chosen to brand their bicycle boulevards using different names.

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Many factors should be taken into consideration when branding a bicycle boulevard. These include existing bikeway definitions used by the state or city, citizen ideas and input, and specific features and activities expected to take place along the route (jogging, green infrastructure, etc.).

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Route Planning

Bicycle boulevards are a key component of a low-stress bikeway network, which includes off-street paths, cycle tracks, and some bike lanes. These facilities appeal to a wider spectrum of the population than just bike lanes along busy streets. Continue reading

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Bicycle Boulevard Signs and Pavement Markings

Signs and pavement markings are often a starting point for designation of a bicycle boulevard. Together with the intended lack of a centerline, these elements indicate to road users that a roadway is intended to be a shared, slow street. However, it is important to recognize that simply installing signs does not create a bicycle boulevard, unless the other operational characteristics are fulfilled. Continue reading

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Speed Management

Slower motorist speeds improve the bicycling environment by reducing overtaking events, enhancing drivers’ ability to see and react, and diminishing the severity of crashes if they occur. Maintaining motor vehicle speeds closer to those of bicyclists greatly improves bicyclists’ comfort on a shared roadway and is critical to creating an effective bicycle boulevard. Continue reading

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Volume Management

Motor vehicle traffic volumes affect bicyclist comfort, particularly on roadways with shared travel lanes such as bicycle boulevards. Higher vehicle volumes are less comfortable and lead to a greater potential for conflicts. Continue reading

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Minor Street Crossings

Minor streets include residential or local streets, which have low motor vehicle volumes. The optimal bicycle boulevard minimizes delay and prioritizes bicycle boulevard right-of-way at local streets and minor collectors. Continue reading

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Major Street Crossings

At locations where the bicycle boulevard crosses a major street that has right-of-way priority over the bicycle boulevard, a variety of treatments improve visibility and reduce delay for bicyclists. Continue reading

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Offset Intersections

Bicycle boulevards typically traverse local streets, which may not always be continuous and therefore may require bicyclists to turn onto another street for a short distance before turning again to resume the original direction. Continue reading

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Green Infrastructure

Bicycle boulevards provide a good opportunity to provide street trees and other plantings, as these elements can be integrated with traffic speed and volume management treatments. Continue reading