Countywide Bikeways Network: Design Resources

On December 1, 2022 the Alameda County Transportation Commission approved an All Ages and Abilities Policy for the Countywide Bikeways Network to ensure bike lanes and paths on the network are safe, comfortable, and high-quality. Design of each facility should be guided by a set of design expectations.

Countywide bikeways facilities are expected to incorporate All Ages and Abilities design principles, as defined in the NACTO Contextual Guidance for Selecting All Ages and Abilities Bikeways. They should also separate modes, address the high-injury network, continue through intersections, prioritize transit, be accessible, and use safe materials.

With the goal of building design consistency across the county and supporting local designers, this resource library includes specific design guidance citations for each design expectation. This resource library represents national best practice documents, and certain design guidance will be refined in partnership with stakeholders for the local context.

Countywide Bikeways Facilities Design Expectations

Document cover for NACTO Designing for All Ages & Abilities Countywide Bikeways Facilities are expected to incorporate All Ages and Abilities design principles defined in the NACTO Contextual Guidance for Selecting All Ages and Abilities Bikeways.
  • Bike lanes (Class II) and shared lanes (Class III bicycle boulevards) should demonstrate the appropriateness (vehicle speed and volume requirements) of the facility relative to an All Ages and Abilities standard.
  • Shared-use paths (Class I) or separated bikeways (Class IV) achieve this standard on any roadway, even major arterials with higher volumes and speeds.
  • On some corridors, a single street may not be able to best serve all modes, but a set of parallel facilities together (e.g. a transit priority street and parallel All Ages and Abilities bikeway) can provide strong multimodal travel options.
Projects should review the existing vehicle speeds, volumes, number of lanes, and operational characteristics of the corridor and reference the bikeway facility selection chart to determine an appropriate AAA facility.
Document Cover for Separated Bike Lane Planning & Design Guide, Massachusetts Dept of Transportation Countywide Bikeways Facilities are expected to maximize separation between all modes, to the extent feasible, and reduce or avoid conflict points. On many corridors, a separated bikeway (class IV) will be necessary in order to provide an All Ages and Abilities facility.

For separated bikeways, the Federal Highway Administration and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation have published guidance specifically tailored to determining bikeway type, roadway cross section considerations. The tabs below provide summaries and citations for these design topics. Both design guides include notes on potential solutions and considerations for constrained corridors within each topic area.
Federal Highway Administration Safe System logo Countywide Bikeways Facilities are expected to address the Countywide or local High-injury Networks. The facility design should focus especially on active transportation and safety needs in Equity Priority Communities and incorporate improvements to address the safety needs specific to a high-injury corridor. The Countywide High-Injury Network was a key focus in the development of the Countywide Bikeways Network, with 85% of the top 20 High-Injury Network corridors on or within ¼-mile parallel to the Countywide Bikeways Network.

In developing Countywide Bikeway projects, designers should use Safe System principles and elements in determining bikeway type and design. Where the bikeway will be routed parallel to the High-Injury Network, jurisdictions should consider corresponding safety projects such as road diets, traffic calming, or hot spot improvements to address the safety needs specific to the high-injury corridor. Resources from the Federal Highway Administration and recommended in Local Roadway Safety Plans should guide the selection of proven safety countermeasures on Countywide Bikeways that align with and are parallel to high-injury networks.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has led nationally on developing guidance and resources on the Safe System Approach, including specific resources for pedestrian and bicycle planning and engineering. The FHWA website on Zero Deaths and Safe System includes a thorough resource library on safety, including a recently published Primer on Safe System Approach for Pedestrians and Bicyclists.
Document Cover for NACTO Don't Give Up at the Intersection Countywide Bikeways Facilities are expected to continue protection through intersections. Where feasible, provide protected intersections for separated and protected facilities. Ensure safe and comfortable crossings of arterials for bicycle boulevards.

In intersection design development, careful evaluation of the bicycle network, conflicting vehicle turn movements and volumes, and critical physical constraints should determine the appropriate intersection design. Throughout this evaluation, safety should take top priority.

National best practice resources are available through NACTO’s Don’t Give Up at the Intersection and the MassDOT Separated Bikeway Planning and Design Guide, Chapters 4 and 6. The FHWA provides guidance on driveways.
Countywide Bikeways Facilities are expected to prioritize transit operations and transit rider comfort along with multimodal safety, as appropriate.

Use the Complete Corridors Approach described in the Countywide Transportation Plan (CTP), especially on operator-identified major bus corridors, to balance multimodal priorities. Designers should demonstrate appropriate and substantive coordination with transit operators beginning early in the process and at major design decision points. Additionally, designers should demonstrate efforts to improve bus service travel time, reliability, and quality.

On corridors with AC Transit service, the AC Transit Multimodal Corridor Guidelines are the standard for facilities with bikeways and buses. These guidelines are aligned with national best practices and may be applied to corridors with transit service provided by LAVTA, Union City Transit, and other partner transit agencies.
Getting to the Curb: A Guide to Building Protected Bike Lanes Countywide Bikeways Facilities are expected to use best practices for accessibility and universal design. Jurisdictions should design bikeways for people bicycling of all ages and physical abilities, including those using adaptive bicycles. They should also design for the needs of people with disabilities navigating near or crossing the bikeway.

The Beyond ADA compliance, designs should consider the comfort and navigation experience from the perspective of people with disabilities, including those with visual impairments, those using wheeled mobility devices, and those debarking from transit, paratransit, or private vehicles.

The U.S. Access Board has developed proposed guidelines under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that address access to facilities within public rights-of-way. These guidelines, the (Proposed) Public Rights-of-Way Accessibility Guidelines (PROWAG) provide detail on application of the ADA on public streets and shared-use paths. Getting to the Curb offers accessibility considerations for separated bike lanes and is a good example of user-focused design consideration.
Countywide Bikeways Facilities are expected to deploy durable materials appropriate to the funding source. Treatments should be designed to prioritize the safety of people biking, walking, rolling, and using transit.

For projects with significant capital funding and streetscape elements, it is expected that buffer treatments will include concrete buffers or raised bike lanes. These buffers may include landscaping. Some projects will have more constrained funding sources. For any project using temporary, low-cost, or “quick build” buffer treatments, designers should carefully consider maintenance and durability, prioritizing successful, safe implementation. In most cases, it is expected that critical design elements at bus stops and intersections will be implemented using durable, permanent materials.

Chapter 3 of the MassDOT Separated Bike Lane Planning and Design Guide provides detailed considerations on buffer materials, drainage patterns, and considerations for raised or street-grade bike lane buffer design.