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Safety Toolbox: Engineering

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Bicycle box

Jonathan Maus/ - permission received

A bicycle box is a "reservoir" on a bike lane, located at an intersection between the motor-vehicle stop line and the crosswalk. According to the DETR Traffic Advisory Leaflet 8/93, the bike box should be 4 to 5 meters deep.  To increase its effectiveness, a bicycle stencil should be placed in the bike box and a contrasting surface color is strongly recommended for the reservoir and the approach bike lane. Instructional signs and separate cyclist signal heads can be installed in conjunction with the bike box. Encroachment and violation of the bike box must be enforced by local law enforcement.
objective To improve the visibility of cyclists at intersections. To enable bicyclists to correctly position themselves for turning movements during the red signal phase by allowing them to proceed to the front of the queue. To provide a transition from a left-side or median bike lane to a right-side lane.
applications For use at intersections with high motor vehicle and bicycle volume, frequent turning conflicts, and/or intersections with a high percentage of turning movements by both cyclists and motorists.
target population All Bicyclists, Motorists
crash type Traffic Signals and Signs, Improper Passing
  • Increases cyclist visibility, allowing them to move to the front of the line where they are in full view of motorists on all sides of the intersection.Allows cyclist to maneuver to the correct position for turning movements during the red signal phase.
  • Does not significantly delay motorists since cyclists are usually able to accelerate quickly through intersections.
  • Reduces conflicts between turning bicycles and vehicles by clearly delineating location for movements to occur.
  • Provides buffer between vehicles and pedestrians/bicycles crossing the street
  • Effectiveness of the bicycle box may be decreased by motorists encroaching into the bike box area.
  • Allowing motorists to turn right on red may be hazardous to bicyclists since the approach bike lane leads right up to the intersection (left-turning vehicles in Britain and other countries where motorists drive on the left)
  • If the signal turns green as a cyclist is approaching the intersection, they may not have enough time to position themselves properly to effectively and safely use the box.
  • Unfamiliar drivers may be confused or uncertain about intended purpose of markings.
  • Local traffic laws may not permit the use of this treatment.
  • Cost of on-going maintenance to maintain color may be a concern.
  • Pavement markings obscured by snow may lead to driver uncertainty in winter conditions
pointers If the bicycle box is shallower than 4 to 5 meters, bicyclists tend to feel intimidated by the motor vehicles, and if it is deeper, motorists tend to encroach.
cost Varies, dependent on the materials and whether signage and new signal heads are needed.
responsibility Public Works
further reading

TRL Project Report 181- Advanced Stop Line for Cyclists: The Role of Central Cycle Lane Approaches and Signal Timings

A Wheeler (TRL) Advanced Stop Lines: A Simplified Layout. Traffic Engineering and Control, May 1995

William Hunter, Evaluation of an Innovative Application of the Bike Box. University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center. Prepared for U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration. Publication Number FHWA-RD-00-141, August 2000

Traffic Advisory Leaflet 10/86: Innovatory Cycle Scheme, Oxford-Parks Road/Broad Street, Advanced Cycle Stop Line, November 1986

Traffic Advisory Leaflet 3/89: Innovatory Cycle Scheme, Newark, Advanced Cycle Stop Line, April 1989

Traffic Advisory Leaflet 6/99: Innovatory Cycle Scheme, Bristol, Advanced Cycle Stop Line, September 1999

Traffic Advisory Leaflet 8/93: Advanced Stop Lines for Cyclists, August 1993

Traffic Advisory Leaflet 5/96: Further Development of Advanced Stop Lines, May 1996

examples City of Cambridge, MA; City of Eugene, OR; United Kingdom, Driver Information and Traffic Management Division
related tools Advance Limit Lines, Pavement Legends for Bicyclists

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