Signs of the times for bicycling

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Didn't Bob Dylan sing “…the signs, they are a-changin'”?

Maybe not, but I couldn't get that song out of my head when I read at Bike Portland that the feds were establishing new guidelines for signs and road markings that included changes that effect bike riders.

While some of the improvements deal with freeway signs and traffic signals, many changes involved making bike lane markings more uniform and establishing common signs for bike routes and paths.

The ones at left caught my attention at first.

U.S. bike route

The U.S. Bicycle Route signs will be used on the 50,000-mile bike route corridor network being established by Adventure Cycling Association and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation officials.

Those bike route designations are already being used for USBR 1 and 76 in Virginia.

The manual suggests that the USBR signs should be erected frequently enough to keep bicyclists informed of route changes and make motorists aware of the presence of bicyclists on the road.

Bike route

The green signs with the bike symbol are to be used for state and local bicycle routes. The number on the sign refers to a route designation; some will include the name of the route or agency in charge of the route.

Full lane

The “bicycles may use full lane” signs is to be used on roads where no bike lanes or shoulders are available for use by bicyclists and “the travel lanes are too narrow for bicyclists and motor vehicles to operate side by side.”

A shared lane marking — sharrow — may also be used in these circumstances.

Bike lanes

The new guidelines also establishes best practices for bike lanes are two-lane streets and intersections where the bike lane crosses a right-turn only lane.

All the changes can be viewed online under Traffic Control for Bicycle Facilities in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices.

You can review the bicycle sign changes at “signs” and the bike lane changes at “markings”.

The Department of Transporation press release regarding the changes in the manual says:

“By requiring better pavement markings which can increase bike lane safety, and extending walk times for pedestrians at crosswalks, the updated MUTCD furthers the “complete streets” concept – an effort long championed by the FHWA to ensure roads accommodate all types of travel, not just automobiles.”

Let's hope these changes have the desired effect.

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