Buffered Bike Lanes

Source: NACTO


Buffered bike lanes are conventional bicycle lanes paired with a designated buffer space separating the bicycle lane from the adjacent motor vehicle travel lane and/or parking lane. A buffered bike lane is allowed as per MUTCD guidelines for buffered preferential lanes (section 3D-01).

Click on the images below to view 3D concepts of conventional bike lanes. The configuration shown is based on Brooklyn, NY, and Portland, OR, examples.

Treatment details can be accessed below under design guidance.

Buffered Bike Lane Benefits

  • Provides greater shy distance between motor vehicles and bicyclists.
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  • Provides space for bicyclists to pass another bicyclist without encroaching into the adjacent motor vehicle travel lane.
  • Encourages bicyclists to ride outside of the door zone when buffer is between parked cars and bike lane.
  • Provides a greater space for bicycling without making the bike lane appear so wide that it might be mistaken for a travel lane or a parking lane.
  • Appeals to a wider cross-section of bicycle users.
  • Encourages bicycling by contributing to the perception of safety among users of the bicycle network.
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Typical Applications

  • Anywhere a standard bike lane is being considered.
  • On streets with high travel speeds, high travel volumes, and/or high amounts of truck traffic.
  • On streets with extra lanes or extra lane width.
  • Special consideration should be given at transit stops to manage bicycle & pedestrian interactions.

Design Guidance

Guidance Buffered Bike Lane

Guidance Buffered Bike Lane

Guidance for conventional bicycle lanes will also apply.


  • Buffer striping may require additional maintenance when compared to a conventional bicycle lane.
  • Buffered bike lanes should be maintained free of potholes, broken glass, and other debris.
  • If trenching is to be done in the bicycle lane, the entire bicycle lane should be trenched so that there is not an uneven surface or longitudinal joints.
  • See conventional bicycle lanes for additional maintenance issues that may apply.

Treatment Adoption and Professional Consensus

Buffered bike lanes are used in the following US cities and counties:

  • Austin, TX
  • Brooklyn, NY
  • Billings, MT
  • Cape Coral, FL
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Marin County, CA
  • Minneapolis, MN
  • New York, NY
  • Portland, OR
  • Phoenix, AZ
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Seattle, WA
  • Tucson, AZ

Click to see the complete reference material for this treatment.