Bicycling Definitions

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Florida Street bike lane
What is a bike lane?

A bike lane is a portion of a roadway that has been designated by stripes, signs, and bicycle pavement markings for the preferential or exclusive use of bicyclists. Bicyclists may ride two abreast in a bike lane if the width allows. This picture shows a bicycle lane between the driving lane and the parking lane.

Edgeline HobbsWhat is an edge line?

Some roads have edge lines instead of bike lanes. An edge line separates the shoulder from the roadway. The shoulder may be used by bicyclists and pedestrians, but may also be used for parking (where allowed). An edge line does not have the bicycle pavement marking or the Bike Lane sign. The shoulder space created by an edge line can vary in width. Edge lines on Hobbs Road are pictured here.

Key facts about bike lanes and edge lines:

  • Parking is always prohibited in a bike lane. Parking may be allowed on shoulders where there are only edge lines.
  • The shoulder inside an edge line can be used by bicyclists and pedestrians, but bike lanes are for the exclusive use of bicyclists.
  • Bike lanes have road markings in them and edge lines do not.
  • Motor vehicles may not drive in bike lanes or shoulders created by edge lines, except when turning and crossing them to enter or exit a driveway or parking space.

Bike route signWhat is a bike route?

A bike route is a collection of streets or paths marked with appropriate direction and information markers. Sometimes they have a specific route number. Greensboro’s bike map shows area bike routes. They are typically marked by standardized green and white directional signs like those pictured here.

What is a bikeway?

A bikeway is any road, street, or path, paved or unpaved, suitable for bicycles. It may either exist within the right-of-way of other modes of transportation, such as highways, or along separate corridors.

Lake Brandt GreenwayWhat is a shared-use path?

A shared-use path, also known as a trail or greenway, is physically separated from the motor vehicle traffic of a roadway. It is designed for the exclusive use of non-motorized users, including bicycle riders, pedestrians, and other non-motorized recreational uses. Shared-use paths may be either within the roadway right-of-way or within an independent right-of-way.

What is a sidepath?

A path that has been designated for use by cyclists and is within the right-of-way of a public road is a sidepath. It is parallel to motor vehicle travel lanes, but is separated from them by space or a barrier. Designated bicycle lanes are not sidepaths because they are immediately adjacent to the traveled way. Sidepaths can provide an appealing environment for less experienced bicyclists to travel at low speeds. Street and driveway crossings can pose safety problems on sidepaths, however, because drivers may not look for bicyclists on these paths.

Pedestrian with dogsWhat is a sidewalk?

That portion of a highway, road or street specifically constructed for the use of pedestrians on the outside edge of the vehicular travel way. Sidewalks are typically, but not always, curb-separated from the roadway and made of concrete, brick, asphalt or other hard-surface materials. Bicyclists should avoid riding on sidewalks, because they have the disadvantages of sidepaths yet none of the advantages.

What is a bicycle?

A bicycle is any vehicle propelled solely by human power, and having two or more wheels, except children's tricycles. In North Carolina, a bicycle has the legal status of a vehicle, so cyclists must obey all traffic laws when on roadways.

Tanden bike riders large