Protected bicycle lanes consist of a separated lane for cyclists on each side of the street. Cyclists are protected from motor vehicles by a kerb. Protected bicycle lanes reduce the risk to cyclists by eliminating the hazards imposed by motor vehicles, such as dooring and collision.

Wellington Street protected bicycle lane. Image credit: City of Yarra.

Popular around the world

Protected bicycle lanes are increasing in popularity around the world, even in the USA:

Increase participation

When protected bicycle have been built, people feel safer and participation rates increase, especially amongst children and seniors. Thus, protected bicycle lanes are key to building 8 to 80 cities.

Image credit: City of Melbourne

VicRoads guidance

VicRoads Traffic Engineering Manual Volume 3 Part 2.16 recommends the installation of protected bicycle lanes on all streets where the speed limit is 40 km/h or above. This applies to all nominated arterials in Yarra, or any street that has not been slowed to 30 km/h or lower.

Image credit: VicRoads Traffic Engineering Manual Vol 3 Part 2.16

Best practice design

A best practice protected bicycle lane is elevated up above the road, to distinguish it from the traffic lane, as well as being protected by a kerb. The lane continues at the same higher grade when crossing minor side streets, in a similar way to continuous footpaths.

Image credit: British Columbia Road Safety Toolkit (flipped for driving on the left)

Kerbs should present a 90 degree (or vertical) barrier to vehicles, to discourage them from entering the bicycle lane, and a 30-45 degree (or forgiving) slope to bicycles, to decrease the likelihood of a crash if they contact the kerb.

Forgiving kerbs with a 30-45 degree angle. Image credit: Bicycle Dutch

A best practice bicycle lane is 2.3-2.5 m wide and paved with high quality coloured asphalt, to provide low rolling resistance and to distinguish it from the black asphalt used for the traffic lane.

Lower cost options

Protected bicycle lanes can be also be built for lower cost, as demonstrated by this example from Canada:



Supporters in Australia include We Ride Australia, who all advocate for networks of safe cycling infrastructure, including protected bicycle lanes:

Image credit: We Ride Australia

Design guides

Learn more from this collection of design guides, or the Dutch (CROW) guide to bicycle infrastructure:

CROW platform design manual for bicycle traffic
Image credit: CROW Platform