Spring 2004, p.7

DOT Adopts Five Foot Bike Lane Standard

The DOT rightly adopted a 5-foot standard width for bike lanes. Anything less, like this one on 6th Avenue in Manhattan, is dangerously narrow.

Last summer, City DOT officials confirmed that the agency will no longer create bike lanes narrower than five feet wide. Experts believe that five feet is the minimum bike lane width that cyclists need to ride safely in traffic and to avoid hazards such as opening car doors and potholes. While it is good that the City adopted this national standard, the DOT and the Department of City Planning should study the efficacy of the bike lane designs in use in the city. Currently, the agencies do not know which bike lane design works best to reduce bicycle crashes and encourage more people to bicycle.

Five feet is the standard minimum width for bike lanes next to on-street parking in the United States. Open car doors completely block bike lanes that are less than five feet wide. Since “dooring” is the most common cause of cycling crashes in New York City, it is necessary to design bike lanes that are wide enough for cyclists to maneuver around open and opening car doors and other obstacles.

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