Since the publication of the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide, NACTO has released additional intersection design guidance.
See this new resource >
At locations where a bicycle boulevard crosses a major street with right-of-way priority, a variety of measure may improve visibility and reduce delay for bicyclists. Treatments can be categorized into the following groups:
- Supplemental signs and markings that enhance crosswalks, including advance stop bars and advance signing.
- Geometric elements, including median refuge islands and curb extensions.
- Crossing devices, including crosswalks, warning signs/markings/beacons, actuated warning beacons, and signals.
Major street crossings may pose a significant barrier the effectiveness and quality of a bicycle boulevard. Treatments of high quality should be selected to mitigate these barriers. Otherwise, it is recommended that another route or crossing that permits a higher level treatment should be selected. Selection of a given treatment depends upon several factors, including roadway width, speed, visibility, and the number and regularity of gaps Read More+
See National Cooperative Highway Research Program Report # 562 Improving Pedestrian Safety at Unsignalized Crossings (2006) for guidance on when to use crosswalks, active or enhanced treatments, or beacons and signals. The future expected volume of bicyclists and pedestrians should be used in the analysis to determine the appropriate crossing treatment that will encourage use of the corridor.
At unsignalized crossings of major streets, treatments should aim to decrease crossing distance, increase the number of available crossing gaps, improve visibility for bicyclists and for people using the cross street, and/or enhance the general awareness of the crossing.
Treatments appropriate for streets with three or fewer travel lanes and posted speeds below 35 mph vary with conditions and operational characteristics of the cross street. Treatments may include the following elements:
- Advance warning signs notify motorists that they are about to cross a bicycle boulevard and remind them to watch for people walking and bicycling. Read More+
Vehicular traffic warning signs may be used to alert road users to locations where unexpected entries into the roadway [or shared use of the roadway by pedestrians, animals, and other crossing activities] might occur. When used in advance of a crossing, non-vehicular warning signs may be supplemented with supplemental plaques with the legend AHEAD, XX FEET, or NEXT XX MILES to provide advance notice to road users of crossing activity.
Federal Highway Administration. (2009). Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. 2C.48.
- Curb extensions shorten crossing distances and allow crossing bicyclists and pedestrians to make use of shorter gaps. They may be used in conjunction with a variety of other intersection treatments, and should only be used as a stand-alone crossing device where they will provide additional crossing gaps in a location with insufficient existing crossing opportunities..
- A bicycle forward stop bar—used in conjunction with a curb extension—is placed closer to the intersection than the motor vehicle stop bar in a location that does not block the crosswalk. Encouraging bicyclists to stop at the nose of the curb extension helps bicyclists take full advantage of the design by decreasing the crossing distance. It also improves bicyclists’ view of cross traffic and provides better visibility of bicyclists waiting for a crossing opportunity. Colored paint may be used to bring further attention to this space. Read More+
This is a variation of a staggered stop line.
“Option: Stop and yield lines may be staggered “longitudinally on a lane-by-lane basis (see Drawing D of Figure 3B-13).
Support: Staggered stop lines and staggered yield lines can improve the driver’s view of pedestrians, provide better sight distance for turning vehicles, and increase the turning radius for left-turning vehicles.”Federal Highway Administration. (2009). Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. Section 3B.16
- Intersection crossing markings or standard crosswalks can be used to highlight to cross traffic that bicyclists are crossing the roadway in that location. They may be used with crossing warning signs for bicycles or bicycles and pedestrians (MUTCD sign W11-1 or W11-15).
- A raised intersection is a Speed Management device that increases motorist awareness of the crossing while reducing motor vehicle speeds on the cross street. See Route Planning for a discussion of bicycle boulevards and emergency vehicle routes.
Crossings of higher order streets with three or more travel lanes and posted speeds over 35 mph should improve safety and comfort for bicyclists. Treatments include the following elements:
- A Median Refuge Island allows bicyclists to cross one direction of traffic at a time when gaps in traffic allow. Islands placed in the middle of the intersection narrow the cross street, providing some speed management benefit. They can also be used to prohibit left turns by motor vehicles on the cross street and through movements on the bicycle boulevard, thus also acting as a volume management treatment. Median refuge islands should be wide enough along bicycle boulevards to accommodate more than one bicyclist or longer bicycles such as cargo bikes and trail-a-bikes.
- Active Warning Beacons can be placed across a bicycle boulevard crossing of a major street. Rectangular Rapid Flash Beacons (RRFBs) are commonly used to alert drivers to crossing bicyclists and increase yielding behavior.”
- Hybrid Beacons can facilitate bicycle crossing of a busy street where cross traffic does not stop but side street volumes do not warrant installation of a conventional traffic signal, or where a full traffic signal installation is not desired.
Full traffic signals may be added to create gaps, overcome visibility issues, or force motorists to stop if needed (see Signals). Signal installation can also alleviate a
congestion problem on the main road caused by a high volume bicycle/pedestrian crossing by limiting when bicyclists or pedestrians can cross.
On streets with few crossing gaps and high motor vehicle speeds and volumes, a bicycle/pedestrian-actuated hybrid beacon should be considered. This will reduce delay at non-peak times when bicyclists do not otherwise need to wait for a gap in traffic on the cross street as well as for users on the cross street, who are not delayed with a full signal. It also reduces the likelihood of generating cut-through traffic on the bicycle boulevard route. Read More+
This application [of a hybrid beacon] provides a pedestrian crossing without signal control for the side street because signal control on the side street can encourage unwanted additional traffic through the neighborhood.
Federal Highway Administration. (2010). Safety Effectiveness of the HAWK Pedestrian Crossing Treatment. FHWA-HRT-10-042.
If the intersection is fully signalized, it shall provide bicycle signal detection and actuation. Volume management may be required so that the signal does not attract unwanted vehicular cut-through traffic. However, forced turns may increase the frequency of right-turn conflicts between bicyclists and motorists. Enhancements to signals on bicycle boulevards to address these issues include the following treatments:
- Bicycle Signal Heads can be added to a hybrid beacon to improve function and safety for bicyclists. See Bicycle Signal Heads for additional guidance
- A separate bicycle signal head can provide a leading bicycle signal phase, which allows bicyclists to begin crossing the street in advance of other traffic.
- Signs that prohibit through movements, right-in/right-out splitter islands, and partial closures are volume management strategies to reduce cut-through motor vehicle traffic. Signs are typically less effective than physical diversion.
- Bike boxes allow bicyclists to get to the head of the queue at signalized intersections. This allows them to take advantage of the typically short green time provided to the minor roadway at an intersection with a major roadway. Such boxes also increase bicyclist visibility to drivers. Parking removal should be considered where a bicycle boulevard has insufficient space to provide the ingress lane to a bike box.
Click on the images below to view 3D concepts of major street crossing treatments.
Treatment details can be accessed below under design guidance.
- Provides bicycle access across streets that can be major barriers along the bicycle boulevard and that compromise bicyclist safety. Because bicycle boulevard retrofits to local streets are typically along facilities without existing signalized accommodation at crossings of collector and arterial roadways, these treatments significantly improve connectivity and access.
- Reduces the crossing distance and improves visibility of bicyclists, encouraging drivers to allow other users to cross safely.
- Aids pedestrian crossing and improves pedestrian connectivity.
- Raises awareness for both bicyclists and drivers of potential conflict areas.
- Encourages or requires driver yielding behavior, allowing bicyclists to cross.
- Minimizes delay for bicyclists on the bicycle boulevard.
- Promotes the multi-modal nature of the corridor.
- Signals separate bicycle movements from conflicting motor vehicle, streetcar, light rail, or pedestrian movements.
- Provides priority to bicycle movements at an intersection (e.g., with a leading bicycle interval or bike box).
- Protects bicyclists in the intersection, which may improve real and perceived safety and comfort.
- Anywhere bicycle boulevards intersect streets that are not stop controlled (generally higher-order streets).
Click the image above to see the guidance summary page full screen.
See median refuge islands, active warning beacons, bicycle signal heads, hybrid signals, bike boxes, and through bike lanes for detailed guidance associated with these facilities.
- Maintain signs, markings, and other treatments, and replace as needed. Monitor intersections for bicyclist delay to determine if additional treatments are warranted.
- Bicycle signal heads require the same maintenance as standard traffic signal heads, such as replacing bulbs and responding to power outages.
Treatment Adoption and Professional Consensus
See adoption and consensus information for specific treatment types under the relevant treatment pages.