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  1. #1
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    Qualifications of a bike route vs bike lane

    I hope this doesn't sound like a silly question. I'm genuinely puzzled by what my city would have me interpret of the two.

    We certainly have a few bike lanes, which I take are actually sections of a public road which have been designated specifically for bike travel. Those are easy to spot.

    However, I'm puzzled by various signs (and maps) we have around for "bike routes" Generally there is a road with general traffic with no shoulder, and usually a sidewalk to the side. Am I to assume that a bike route is just a sidewalk for me to ride on next to a road? They vary in size from a typcal sidewalk width, to maybe a driveway's width. Or does the bike route intend for me to make use of the actual road-way?

  2. #2
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bud_311
    I hope this doesn't sound like a silly question. I'm genuinely puzzled by what my city would have me interpret of the two.

    We certainly have a few bike lanes, which I take are actually sections of a public road which have been designated specifically for bike travel. Those are easy to spot.

    However, I'm puzzled by various signs (and maps) we have around for "bike routes" Generally there is a road with general traffic with no shoulder, and usually a sidewalk to the side. Am I to assume that a bike route is just a sidewalk for me to ride on next to a road? They vary in size from a typcal sidewalk width, to maybe a driveway's width. Or does the bike route intend for me to make use of the actual road-way?
    It may depend on the area. Where I live in NC, Bike Routes are signed routes where you ride on the street, for the most part. Unfortunately they aren't always up to date. There is one bike route that I helped install signs for over 30 years ago, the signs are still there and the road has gone from a fairly quiet 4 lane residential street to a 6 lane raceway. It isn't uncommon for vehicles to be exceeding the speed limit by 20mph or more

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  3. #3
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    I believe denver defines bike routes as street routes with low traffic. Though I find this incorrect at times.
    So, you ride on the streets with bike routes.
    Bike lanes are generally seperate lanes of travel on busy streets. Again this is not entirely true.

    The only time I ride on sidewalks is when directed to, albeit begrudgingly.

  4. #4
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    Bike routes in California (and in most parts of the U.S., I believe) are pretty much the same thing that DataJunkie and wahoonc described in their states: they're the city or county's suggestions for good roads to ride on. Sometimes they're excellent suggestions, other times they're flat-out lousy...and no two riders will always agree on which ones are which. In any case, you're certainly never limited to riding on official "bike routes"; take them as a suggestion, but choose the roads that get you where you're going the most smoothly, safely, and enjoyably.

    To address your question about riding on sidewalks -- that's almost never a good idea. Sidewalk riding may or may not be legal where you live, but it's almost always inefficient and unsafe (not just because you may be endangering pedestrians, but because cars which turn across your path at driveways and intersections won't be expecting to encounter a fast-moving cyclist on the sidewalk, and you and the driver often will lack a good line of sight to one another.)

    By the way, the Advocacy and Safety subforum has a long thread on the question of sidewalk riding; you can find zillions of opinions there, links to relevant studies, and advice on those (rare) times when it really IS better to take the sidewalk.

    Good luck, and enjoy your ride!

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