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Cycle Tracks


A cycle track (also refered to as a 'physically separated bike lane') is an exclusive bike facility that is physically separated from motor traffic and is distinct from the sidewalk for the exclusive or primary use of bicycles.[1] Physical separation provides an extra level and sense of security for cyclists and are therefore, can be an appealing design solution.

In English-speaking countries outside of the U.S., separated bicycle lanes are sometimes called "segregated bicycle lanes" or "segregated cycle facilities." [2]

Cycle tracks are not all the same and can have a variety of characteristics in different combinations. Cycle tracks may be one-way or two, at street level, sidewalk level or somewhere in between. When at street level where cars also travel, cyclists are protected by physical structures such as curbs, bollards or medians. In situations where on-street parking is allowed cycle tracks are located to the curb-side of the parking (in contrast to bike lanes). [3] In this case, the parked vehicles act as a buffer. When on the same grade as sidewalks, cycle tracks are often distinguished using different pavement colours and textures.

Types of Cycle Tracks

According to the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), cycle tracks can be categorised into three main groups:
  • One-Way Protected Cycle Tracks These cycle tracks are at street level and are sometimes refered to as "on-street bike paths". This type of cycle track accommodates bike traffic in a single direction and is buffered by streetscaping elements such as bollards, curbs, medians etc.
  • Raised Cylce Tracks These cycle tracks are elevated above street level, either to the height of the adjacent sidewalk or between the sidewalk and road way.
  • Two-Way Cycle Tracks These types of cycle tracks may include elements from the other two groups; however unlike one-way protected cycle tracks, these two-way tracks facilitate bike traffic in two directions. They may or may not be elevated.

Challenges for Cycle Track Design

  • Function – User Travel
    • Safety and efficiency of crossings and intersections for all users (pedestrians, cyclists & vehicle).
    • Optimal traffic signal operation.
    • Connections to other bikeways.
    • Connections to adjacent parks and popular cyclist destinations.
    • Connections to destinations / mobility hubs (e.g. a subway station).
  • Function - Impacts on City Operations
    • Interaction and with public transit bus stop operations.
    • Efficiency and convenience of curbside waste collection
    • Emergency vehicle access (e.g. barriers for movements by ambulances and fire trucks)
    • Maintenance costs and complexity (e.g. snow clearing, street sweeping, resilience of materials)

[We should add examples of solutions to these challenges in this wiki]

See some potential solutions in Portland Bicycle Plan for 2030: Survey of Best Practices


Read all Streetsblog Articles on Bike Lanes


[1] National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), "Cycle Tracks". Urban Bikeway Design Guide.
[2] "Segregated cycle facilities." Wikipedia.
[3] National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), "Cycle Tracks". Urban Bikeway Design Guide.


Pictures are cited in the order they appear above.
[1] Biking Toronto


Streetfilms on Cycle Paths

Physically Separated Bike Lanes:
Ninth Ave Gets a Physically Separated Bike Lane:
In Davis' Platinum City, Even Munchkins Ride Bikes: