A brightly marked bicycle lane on a two-lane urban street.

Local Guidance for Bicycle Facility Design

A quick reference guide is now available to help local agency planners and designers select the best bicycling facilities for their system. This guide walks local agencies through the selection and design process, and directs users to specific places within design manuals for details on facility questions.

The Local Road Research Board (LRRB) project sought to develop a bicycle facility selection reference guide that brought together critical national directives and best practices into a manageable document for planners and designers to use in choosing local bicycle facilities.

To streamline design decision-making, cities and counties needed tools to select bicycle facilities that reflect the best in current practices and designs, and that suit small agency needs and budgets.

“Our goal was to provide some clarity to local agencies for what sources to go to for design and selection information. A lot of this information is based on MnDOT’s new Bicycle Facility Design Manual,” said author Renae Kuehl, principal, SRF Consulting Group, Inc. 

What Did We Implement?

A designer or planning official at a local agency can turn to any number of sources for design and facility selection direction. State resources include MnDOT’s Bicycle Facility Design Manual or the Minnesota Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. National resources like the Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) or the Small Town and Rural Multimodal Networks guide from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) also provide guidance. Additional information is available from documents produced by other states and from maintenance and trail guides produced by other Minnesota agencies.

The new Bicycle Facility Implementation—Quick Reference Guide supplements MnDOT’s Bicycle Facility Design Manual. The team developed the guidebook as a searchable tool for directing local agency planners and designers to various resources to answer their design questions and assist in decision-making. 

The quick reference guide includes a detailed list of resources with web links for selection and design information. Resources include state and national bicycle facility design guides and directives on lanes, trails and maintenance. 

Two cyclists use a bicycle path on an urban street in the snow.
When designed well, bike lanes invite use even during Minnesota winters.

A detailed frequently asked questions (FAQ) section is also provided, based on survey results from city and county road agencies. Questions are grouped into four key categories: system planning and facility selection, facility design, safe crossings and intersection design, and maintenance. Responses direct the reader to specific sections within resources and publications for more information. 

A flowchart on bikeway selection illustrates the process in four stages: policy, planning, selection and design. Finally, the guide summarizes survey responses and findings from 46 Minnesota cities and counties, charting the amount of experience agencies had with six types of bicycle facilities: paved shoulders, sidepaths, multi-use trails, standard bike lanes, buffered bike lanes and contra-flow bike lanes. 

How Did We Do It?

Researchers began with a literature search of best practices in bicycle facility design and selection. Working closely with the project’s Technical Advisory Panel (TAP), the research team developed a survey about bicycle facility selection experience, policies and plans for cities and counties throughout Minnesota. 

“We all want a balanced transportation network. My hope is that this guide leads to a safer and more balanced transportation system for all modes,” said Chad Millner, engineering director, City of Edina.

The team analyzed various selection and design resources, developing a list of resources for the selection guide. Working with the Technical Advisory Panel and relying on survey responses, investigators developed a detailed FAQ grid with answers and directions to design resources, and a decision-making flowchart. Investigators organized the 46 survey responses into tables and bullet points for quick review.  

What’s Next?

Following use of the guide by local agencies, MnDOT and LRRB may choose to update the guidebook with current standards and document links, and may wish to expand upon maintenance practices as research and practice on bicycle facility maintenance evolve. 

Related Links

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