familygreen2.gif (5638 bytes)

wpe6.jpg (9625 bytes)

  A Web-site for Everyday Bicyclists.

Page One Site Map FAQs About
  Bicycling Life

Page One

About Our Site

News And Views

Issues & Editorials

Bicycling "How-To"s

Solutions for Little Problems,
Adjustments, and Repairs.

Practical Cycling

Using Bikes in Everyday Life
Commuting & Errands

Touring & Recreation

Cycling for Fun & Health

Safety Skills

Street Smarts for Bicyclists
Safety Issues

Effective Advocacy

Advancing Cycling Issues
Getting Involved


Position Papers
Research and
Source Documents




Twenty-Two Reasons For Paved Highway Shoulders


Since the 1971 "Bike Bill" was passed, and the terms "shoulder bikeways" or "bike lanes" were commonly used, the Oregon Highway Department advocated building paved shoulders when reconstructing roads. There was also an aggressive program in the 60's and 70's to add paved shoulders to existing roads. These were often referred to as "safety shoulders." There are good reasons for this term.

The following are some of the reasons why standard width shoulders are advantageous. Most are paraphrases of what AASHTO has to say about shoulders. Paved shoulders have benefits in three important areas: safety, capacity and maintenance. Most of these advantages apply to both shoulders on rural highways and to marked, on-street bike lanes on urban roadways.

(A) Safety--highways with paved shoulders have reduced accident rates, as paved shoulders:

1. Provide space to make evasive maneuvers;

2. Accommodate driver error;

3. Add a recovery area to regain control of a vehicle;

4. Provide space for disabled vehicles;

5. Provide increased sight distance for through vehicles and for vehicles entering the roadway (in cut sections or brushy areas in rural areas, and in urban areas with many sight obstructions);

6. Provide lateral clearance to roadside objects such as guardrail, signs and poles;

7. Contribute to driving ease and reduced driver strain;

8. Reduce passing conflicts between motor vehicles and bicyclists and pedestrians;

9. Make the crossing pedestrian more visible to motorists; and

10. Provide for storm water discharge farther from the travel lanes, reducing hydroplaning. This also reduces splash and spray to following vehicles and nearby pedestrians and bicyclists.

(B) Capacity--highways with paved shoulders can carry more traffic, as paved shoulders:

11. Provide more intersection and safe stopping sight distance;

12. Allow for easier exiting from travel lanes to side streets and roads (also a safety benefit);

13. Provide greater effective turning radius for trucks;

14. Provide space for off-tracking of truck's rear wheels in curved sections;

15. Provide space for disabled vehicles, mail delivery and bus stops;

16. Provide space for bicyclists to ride at their own pace;

17. Provide space between motor vehicles and pedestrians, increasing pedestrians level of comfort

(C) Maintenance--highways with paved shoulders are easier to maintain, as paved shoulders:

18. Provide structural support to the pavement;

19. Discharge water further from the travel lanes, reducing the undermining of the base and subgrade;

20. Provide space for maintenance operations and snow storage;

21. Provide space for portable maintenance signs;

22. Facilitate painting of fog lines. 


By Michael P. Ronkin

Oregon DOT Bicycle & Pedestrian Coordinator)

Excerpt from a public posting on Usenet.


Home About This Site Email the Editor Submissions Sponsors
Copyright 1999 Bicycling Life Website.