Seattle Cycle Tracks—Comfortable Protected Bike Lanes
Seattle is building a network that puts all residents within ¼ mile of a bike facility. We want to make riding a bike a comfortable part of daily life for everyone. Cycle tracks, or protected bike lanes, are one piece of the network. Protected bike lanes help eliminate perceived risk and fear of collisions; reduce the risk of dooring crashes; and add a level of predictability making streets safer for everyone.
A protected bike lane combines the user experience of a multi-use trail with a conventional bike lane. They have different forms, but all share common elements — they provide space that is used for bicycles and are separated from motor vehicle travel lanes, parking lanes and sidewalks. Read a recent report on the ways protected bike lanes are supporting economic growth in cities where they are being built.
Instructions on How to Use Protected Bike Lanes
Currently, Seattle is constructing two-way protected bike lanes on one side of the street. This may vary as new facilities are added. Whether you’re riding a bike, driving, or walking, here’s how to use them:
Riding a bike
- Yield to pedestrians and wheelchair users who may be crossing the road and protected bike lane and give an audible signal before overtaking and passing any pedestrian.
- Watch for turning vehicles when approaching intersections, driveways and alleys.
- Be alert for passing bicyclists within the bike lane and for pedestrians crossing the bike lane to access parked motor vehicles.
- Be aware that the bike lane may weave as it approaches intersections to make bicyclists more visible to motorists.
- Stay to the right and allow faster users to pass safely.
- Watch and listen for protected bike lane users traveling from either direction just as you would when crossing a street.
- Cross protected bike lane at crosswalks.
- Be alert for nearby cyclists when crossing a protected bike lane to access a parked vehicle.
Using a wheelchair
- Travelers in wheelchairs are allowed to use bicycle lanes and public roads that have speed limits below 35 miles per hour. Individuals determine what is most comfortable and must follow the same rules as other protected bike lane users.
- Park in the marked lane between the travel lane and the bike lane in instances where on-street parking is available.
- Take extra caution and look both ways before turning across the bike lane at intersections, driveways and alleys, especially when the barrier protected bike lane is protected by on-street parking.
- Watch for people on bikes traveling in both directions in two-way protected bike lanes.
- Remember through bicyclists have the right-of-way at uncontrolled intersections, driveways and alleys.
- Don’t drive in a protected bike lane. You can turn across a protected bike lane, but must yield to people riding bicycles.
Please note: Motorized scooters may not use cycle tracks.
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Be Super Safe
The City of Seattle’s road safety campaign, Be Super Safe, is an ongoing effort to reach zero traffic fatalities and serious injuries. When bicycling we ask that you Be Super Safe and follow the rules of the road.
- Obey all traffic laws—cyclists have all the rights and responsibilities of vehicle drivers. Bicyclists are not required to use cycle tracks.
- Ride no more than two abreast.
- Always wear a helmet. Helmets are required by law in King County.
- Use a front light visible at 500 feet and a red rear reflector. A red rear light may be used in addition to the rear reflector.
- Wear reflective clothing.
- Use hand signals and look before turning.
- Ride at a speed that is reasonable under the existing conditions if using the sidewalk and always yield the right of way to pedestrians.
Local, National and International Bicycle Design Guidelines
The Seattle Bicycle Master Plan guides the development of a citywide bicycling network, programs to encourage more bike riding, and activities and tools to measure our progress. The National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) Urban Bikeway Design Guide is also a primary source for Seattle’s new bike designs. This document was created out of an extensive worldwide literature search from design guidelines and real-life experience; as well as the input of a panel of urban bikeway planning professionals from NACTO member cities, traffic engineers, planners, and academics.