Two-Way Cycle Tracks


Two-way cycle tracks (also known as protected bike lanes, separated bikeways, and on-street bike paths) are physically separated cycle tracks that allow bicycle movement in both directions on one side of the road. Two-way cycle tracks share some of the same design characteristics as one-way tracks, but may require additional considerations at driveway and side-street crossings.

A two-way cycle track may be configured as a protected cycle track at street level with a parking lane or other barrier between the cycle track and the motor vehicle travel lane and/or as a raised cycle track to provide vertical separation from the adjacent motor vehicle lane.

Click on the images below to view 3D concepts of two-way cycle tracks. The configurations shown are based on Cambridge, MA and Washington DC, examples.

Treatment details can be accessed below under design guidance.

Two-Way Cycle Track Benefits

  • Dedicates and protects space for bicyclists by improving perceived comfort and safety. Eliminates risk and fear of collisions with over-taking vehicles.
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  • Reduces risk of ‘dooring’ compared to a bike lane, and eliminates the risk of a doored bicyclist being run over by a motor vehicle.
  • On one-way streets, reduces out of direction travel by providing contra-flow movement.
  • Low implementation cost when making use of existing pavement and drainage and using parking lane or other barrier for protection from traffic.
  • More attractive to a wide range of bicyclists at all levels and ages.
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Typical Applications

  • On streets with few conflicts such as driveways or cross-streets on one side of the street.
  • On streets where there is not enough room for a one-way cycle track on both sides of the street.
  • On one-way streets where contra-flow bicycle travel is desired.
  • On streets where more destinations are on one side thereby reducing the need to cross the street.
  • On streets with extra right-of-way on one side.
  • To connect with another bicycle facility, such as a second cycle track on one side of the street.
  • Along streets on which bike lanes would cause many bicyclists to feel stress because of factors such as multiple lanes, high traffic volumes, high speed traffic, high incidence of double parking, and high parking turnover.
  • On streets for which conflicts at intersections can be effectively mitigated using parking lane setbacks, bicycle markings through the intersection, and other signalized intersection treatments.
  • Along streets with high bicycle volumes.
  • Along streets with high motor vehicle volumes and/or speeds.
  • Special consideration should be given at transit stops to manage bicycle and pedestrian interactions.

Design Guidance

See protected cycle tracks and raised cycle tracks for additional guidance on configuration options. See cycle track intersection approach and bicycle signals for details on design strategies at intersections.

Required Features
Bicycle lane word, symbol, and/or arrow markings (MUTCD Figure 9C-3) shall be placed at the beginning of a cycle track and at periodic intervals along the facility to define the bike lane direction and designate that portion of the street for preferential use by bicyclists.
If configured on a one-way street, a “ONE WAY”  sign (MUTCD R6-1, R6-2) with “EXCEPT BIKES” plaque shall be posted along the facility and at intersecting streets, alleys, and driveways informing motorists to expect two-way traffic.
A “DO NOT ENTER” sign (MUTCD R5-1) with “EXCEPT BIKES” plaque shall be posted along the facility to only permit use by bicycles.
Intersection traffic controls along the street (e.g., stop signs and traffic signals) shall also be installed and oriented toward bicyclists traveling in the contra-flow direction.
Recommended Features
The desirable two-way cycle track width is 12 feet. Minimum width in constrained locations is 8 feet.
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When protected by a parking lane, 3 feet is the desired width for a parking buffer to allow for passenger loading and to prevent dooring collisions.
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In the absence of a raised median or curb, the desired with of the painted buffer is 3 ft. The buffer space should be used to locate bollards, planters, signs or other forms of physical protection.
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A dashed yellow line should be used to separate two-way bicycle traffic and to help distinguish the cycle track from any adjacent pedestrian area.
Driveways and minor street crossings are a unique challenge to cycle track design. A review of existing facilities and design practice has shown that the following guidance may improve safety at crossings of driveways and minor intersections:

  • If the cycle track is parking protected, parking should be prohibited near the intersection to improve visibility. The desirable no-parking area is 30 feet from each side of the crossing.
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  • For motor vehicles attempting to cross the cycle track from the side street or driveway, street and sidewalk furnishings and/or other features should accommodate a sight triangle of 20 feet to the cycle track from minor street crossings, and 10 feet from driveway crossing.
  • Color, yield lines, and “Yield to Bikes” signage should be used to identify the conflict area and make it clear that the cycle track has priority over entering and exiting traffic.
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  • Motor vehicle traffic crossing the cycle track should be constrained or channelized to make turns at sharp angles to reduce travel speed prior to the crossing.
  • If configured as a raised cycle track, the crossing should be raised, in which the sidewalk and cycle track maintain their elevation through the crossing. Sharp inclines on either side from road to sidewalk level serve as a speed hump for motor vehicles.
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Two-stage turn queue boxes should be provided to assist in making turns from the cycle track facility.
Optional Features
Tubular markers may be used to protect the cycle track from the adjacent travel lane. The color of the tubular markers shall be the same color as the pavement marking they supplement.
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Cycle tracks may be shifted more closely to the travel lanes on minor intersection approaches to put bicyclists clearly in the field of view of motorists
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A raised median, bus bulb or curb extension may be configured in the cycle track buffer area to accommodate transit stops. Cyclists should yield to pedestrians crossing the roadway at these points to reach the bus stop. 

A two-way cycle tracks may be configured on the left side of a one-way street to avoid conflicts at transit stops.

May be configured as a raised cycle track.

ADA/PROWAG Considerations

Two-way cycle tracks have similar ADA/PROWAG considerations as one-way protected cycle tracks and raised cycle tracks depending on the configuration. The wider overall facility width of two-way cycle tracks may simplify accommodating disabled users.


  • Two-way cycle tracks should be maintained to be free of pavement damage, broken glass, and other debris.
  • Two-way cycle tracks have similar maintenance requirements to one-way protected cycle tracks and raised cycle tracks depending on the configuration.

Treatment Adoption and Professional Consensus

  • Commonly used in dozens of European bicycle friendly cities.
  • Currently used in the following US cities:
    • Austin, TX
    • Cambridge, MA
    • Eugene, OR
    • Indianapolis, IN
    • New York City, NY
    • Portland, OR
    • Saint Petersburg, FL
    • Washington, DC

Click to see the complete reference material for this treatment.

Reference Publications