It appears there will soon be some discussion of whether to use the new “Bicycles May Use Full Lane” sign that was approved in the 2009 Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD).
This sign would only be used on lanes less than 14′ wide, which are too narrow for a bicyclist and a motorist to safely travel side by side. On these types of roads, where there is no bike lane, would you rather see this new sign or the “Share the road” plaque/warning sign combo?
The MUTCD does give engineers a choice. Don’t let the picture sizes fool you, the yellow warning sign is bigger. Answer in the poll below.
Share the road photo by flickr user belboo.
Now you’re probably asking, what’s the MUTCD? The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices sets the standards for striping, signage, and signalization across the country. If a traffic control feature you want is not in there, you’ll have a hard time getting it installed on your road. The US Department of Transportation just released a long awaited new version of this manual that comes with some changes that many complete streets advocates will welcome. Hit up the press release here, and if you really want to delve into it, read the actual manual at FHWA’s website.
Until now, some new pedestrian and bicycle features have been experimental and difficult to install since they weren’t in the old 2003 MUTCD. Here are some of the additions to the roadway designer’s palette in the new manual:
- Shared lane use markings, or “sharrows.” These are like bike lane markings in the middle of the traffic lane, for lower speed areas where bicycle lanes don’t fit. That’s one in the picture next to on-street parking.
- “Bicycles may use full lane” sign, for use with or without sharrows. It’s a white regulatory sign, which carries more weight with police.
- “HAWK” signals. These are hybrid signals designed for mid-block crosswalks. These will be easier to install than regular signals since they don’t require as much vehicle traffic or pedestrian traffic.
States have two years to adopt the 2009 MUTCD. It may take a few months before Florida adopts it, but projects that are being designed now (to be constructed once we adopt the new MUTCD) may start incorporating them. We hope designers will use the new pedestrian and bicycle features as soon as possible.
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