Protected Bike Lanes

  • Finding ways to protect cyclists in urban areas is a longstanding challenge for city planners. Riding on sidewalks can be dangerous to pedestrians. Shared roads with motorists can lead to cyclist deaths. As urban areas become more densely populated, this biking safety challenge will only grow. Clearly marked, protected bike lanes are an easy-to-install, cost-effective way to provide safe routes for cyclists and encourage bike travel.


a man riding his scooter along the protected bike lanes

Safe Space for Cyclists. Better Urban Roads for All.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 859 cyclist fatalities in 2018, making it the deadliest in the last 30 years.

An Urban Safety Solution: Designated, Protected, and Efficient Bike Lanes

Safe bicycle travel promotes greener and healthier cities.

Increased bicycle usage can offer significant benefits for large urban areas — particularly less motor vehicle congestion, less pollution and greener, healthier cities. A key factor in bicycle usage is bicycling safety. Cyclists need to feel comfortable, confident and safe as they ride their bikes around the city. Providing cyclists with designated, protected bicycle lanes can help accomplish this goal.

  • parking space for protected bike lanes

    Case Study: How the Netherlands Became the Biking Capital of the World

    In the 1970s, the majority of people in the Netherlands travelled by car and the number of traffic deaths and pollution was becoming unacceptable. So activists took action by promoting cycling as an alternative. As a result of their efforts, various cities started working to make their roads more bicycle-friendly. Eventually, the Dutch Ministry of Transport created a national strategy — “Bicycle Plan in the Dutch” — to:

    • Increase bicycle usage
    • Invest in bicycle infrastructure
    • Promote public confidence

    The Netherlands now has 22,000 miles of dedicated bike paths and 27% of trips are on a bicycle.


Designing and Building Effective Protected Bike Lanes

Two important components for effective and safe bike lanes are strategic road design and clear, highly visible traffic safety devices. Here are some ideas to get you started. For more information, take a look at the National Associate of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) Urban Bikeway Design Guide.

  • a road diet for safer infrastructure on urban streets
    Road Diets

    A road diet is an FHWA recommended safety countermeasure that reduces the number of lanes designated for vehicle traffic, typically from four lanes to three. Road diets can help create safe infrastructure on your urban streets for protected bike lanes and cyclists on the road.

  • protected bike lines with installed channelizers and delineators
    Channelizers and Delineators

    Install channelizers to separate bike lanes from vehicle traffic. This provides both a visual distinction and a physical barrier between bike lanes and vehicle lanes. High-visibility retroreflective sheeting on channelizers, delineators and bollards can help motorists see these important visual cues in a range of conditions, including at night, dawn and dusk.

  • ensure the safety of cyclists on protected bike lanes with high-visibility traffic signs
    High-Visibility Traffic Signs

    Signage that designates and communicates bike lanes, stops, turns, etc., improves safety and mobility for all travellers in urban areas. High-visibility retroreflective signage, particularly ASTM Type XI signage, reflects more light to drivers and cyclists, helping them see signs from further distances in a range of conditions and giving them more time to react. 

  • bike lane marking
    Bike Lane Markings

    Symbols, legends, lane markings and sharrows help cyclists navigate both protected bike lanes and shared bike lanes. They increase cyclist confidence and help drivers see bicycle lanes. Retroreflective markings are more visible at night, and wet retroreflective markings help to improve visibility in the rain. The addition of skid particles helps improve traction, particularly in wet conditions.

Graphic of bicyclist in protected bike lane on urban road, with pedestrian to the left and cars to the right.
Helping You Design Safer Protected Bike Lanes

Traffic Safety Products for Protected Bike Lanes

3M traffic safety devices are engineered to be visible in a range of conditions, more rugged to withstand harsh environments and more versatile for use in a variety of situations.

  • 3M pavement markings used in protected bike lanes
    Pavement Markings

    Our high-performance retroreflective, wet retroreflective, and adhesive pavement markings help cyclists, drivers, and pedestrians see and navigate bike lanes in urban areas.

    3M™ High Performance Pavement Marking Tape Series 380AW

  • symbols and legends on bike lane paths
    Symbols and Legends

    Use our high-visibility pavement marking tapes to add important messages on bike lane paths.

    3M™ Stamark™ Pavement Marking Symbols and Legends Tape Series L380

  • 3M reflective sheeting for bike lane signs
    Reflective Sheeting

    Installing traffic signs with highly visible retroreflective sheeting helps cyclists and drivers see signs from greater distances and in a wide range of conditions — giving them more time to react.


Need Help Designing and Building Safer Urban Roads?

Our 3M experts are here to show you cost-effective and easy-to-apply traffic infrastructure solutions that can help you improve traffic safety and mobility.

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