Bike Boxes


A bike box is a designated area at the head of a traffic lane at a signalized intersection that provides bicyclists with a safe and visible way to get ahead of queuing traffic during the red signal phase.

Click on the images below to view 3D concepts of a bike box. The configurations shown are based on Columbus, OH, Madison, WI, and Portland, OR, bike boxes.

Treatment details can be accessed below under design guidance.

Bike Box Benefits

  • Increases visibility of bicyclists.
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  • Reduces signal delay for bicyclists.
  • Facilitates bicyclist left turn positioning at intersections during red signal indication. This only applies to bike boxes that extend across the entire intersection.
  • Facilitates the transition from a right-side bike lane to a left-side bike lane during red signal indication. This only applies to bike boxes that extend across the entire intersection.
  • Helps prevent ‘right-hook’ conflicts with turning vehicles at the start of the green indication.
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  • Provides priority for bicyclists at signalized bicycle boulevard crossings of major streets.
  • Groups bicyclists together to clear an intersection quickly, minimizing impediment to transit or other traffic.
  • Pedestrians benefit from reduced vehicle encroachment into the crosswalk.
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Typical Applications

  • At signalized intersections with high volumes of bicycles and/or motor vehicles, especially those with frequent bicyclist left-turns and/or motorist right-turns.
  • Where there may be right or left-turning conflicts between bicyclists and motorists.
  • Where there is a desire to better accommodate left turning bicycle traffic.
  • Where a left turn is required to follow a designated bike route, access a shared-use path, or when the bicycle lane moves to the left side of the street.
  • When the dominant motor vehicle traffic flows right and bicycle traffic continues through (such as a Y intersection or access ramp).

Design Guidance

Required Bike Box Features
A box formed by transverse lines shall be used to hold queuing bicyclists, typically 10-16 feet deep. Deeper boxes show less encroachment by motor vehicles.
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Stop lines shall be used to indicate the point behind which motor vehicles are required to stop in compliance with a traffic control signal. See MUTCD 3B.16. 
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Pavement markings shall be used and centered between the crosswalk line and the stop line to designate the space as a bike box. The marking may be a Bike Symbol (MUTCD 9C-3A) or Helmeted Bicyclist Symbol (MUTCD 9c-3B.)
In cities that permit right turns on red signal indications, a “No Turn on Red” sign shall be installed overhead to prevent vehicles from entering the Bike Box. 
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Recommended Bike Box Features
A “Stop Here on Red” sign should be post-mounted at the stop line to reinforce observance of the stop line. 
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Colored pavement should be used as a background color within the bike box to encourage compliance by motorists. 
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An ingress lane should be used to define the bicycle space. Colored pavement may be used. When color is used, length shall be 25 to 50 feet to guarantee bicycle access to the box. 
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An egress lane should be used to clearly define the potential area of conflict between motorists and bicyclists in the intersection when intersection is operating on a green signal indication. 
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A “Yield to Bikes” sign should be post-mounted in advance of and in conjunction with an egress lane to reinforce that bicyclists have the right-of-way going through the intersection. 
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Optional Bike Box Features
A “WAIT HERE” legend marking may be used to supplement the stop line and “Stop Here on Red” sign at a bike box. 
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Stop lines may be placed up to 7 feet in advance of the bike box space to limit encroachment by motor vehicles.
The box may be setback from the pedestrian crossing to minimize encroachment by cyclists into the pedestrian crossing.
Bike boxes may extend across multiple travel lanes to facilitate bicyclist left turn positioning. A two-stage turn queue box may be an alternative approach to facilitating left turns where there are multiple vehicle through lanes. 
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Bike boxes may be combined with an exclusive bicycle signal phase or leading bicycle interval through the use of bicycle signal heads to allow clearance of the bicycle queue prior to the green indication for motorists.
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At areas with high volumes of right turning vehicles, or low levels of motorist yielding compliance, an active display sign may be used to further alert drivers to the potential of conflict movements with bicyclists. This sign should use signal detection and actuation to activate only in the presence of bicyclists.


  • Colored pavement surface may be costly to maintain, especially in climates prone to snow/ice.
  • Placement of markings between tire tracks will reduce wear.

Treatment Adoption and Professional Consensus

  • Commonly used in dozens of European bicycle friendly cities.
  • Currently used in the following US cities:
    • Austin, TX
    • Alexandria, VA
    • Boston, MA
    • Baltimore, MD
    • Boston, MA
    • Cambridge, MA
    • Chicago, IL
    • Columbus, OH
    • Decatur, GA
    • Madison, WI
    • Minneapolis, MN
    • New York, NY
    • Phoenix, AZ
    • Portland, OR
    • Roswell, GA
    • San Francisco, CA
    • San Luis Obispo, CA
    • Seattle, WA
    • Tucson, AZ
    • Washington, DC

Click to see the complete reference material for this treatment.

Reference Publications