Roadway Design Bulletin 14-7 is a very dry sounding title for a very important policy shift at the Florida Department of Transportation. The bulletin allows for narrower lanes and makes a 7’ wide bike lane (2’ buffer + 5’ bike lane) the default choice for projects in or within one mile of an urban area.
For divided roadways with a design speed of 45 miles per hour and less within one mile of an urban area the default lane width for new construction has been reduced from the interstate standard width of 12’ to 11’ in width. For the 10′ lane lovers the commentary includes an especially notable teaser:
In the case of urban arterials it was determined, through an expert panel review process, that lane widths between 10 and 12 feet are acceptable on urban arterials and do not cause safety problems. There is no significant correlation between lane width and safety performance for the range of facilities studied.
From the bulletin it appears that the main reason why the new standard lane width wasn’t reduced to 10′ was due concerns about the safety and performance when a high percentage of truck and bus traffic exists.
The new standard for bike lanes in or within one mile of an urban area is 7’. The previous standard bike lane was 5’ in width. The new bike lane will consist of a 2’ wide buffer and a 5’ wide bike lane. Next to on-street parking a 3’ wide buffer will be provided in the door zone of the parked car and the bike lane will be 4′. The buffer will be hatched on a 10’ diagonal spacing. It is commended that FDOT standards now acknowledge the door zone issue.
It should be noted that this standard is for new construction. The bulletin also improved the decision making matrix on how to attempt to fit these bike lanes into existing roads.
During a January 21st webinar on the new policy, FDOT cited improved sight distance at driveways and the ability for cyclists to exhibit lane control if a vehicle were to use the bike lane as a right turn lane. (Note: A passenger car is 6’ wide so it is possible that some cars will use the 7’ wide lane as a deceleration lane). When asked about physical buffered bike lanes such as placing bike lanes behind parallel parked cars, FDOT stated these methods are still experimental (30 years of practice in the Netherlands doesn’t count!) and they are waiting on the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to complete a report on cycle tracks before they consider changing policy.
This new policy is a welcomed improvement and it will address poor designs such as what is proposed for the new Flagler Bridge. The new Flagler Bridge is proposed to have 12’ wide travel lanes with 5’ bike lanes and 35 MPH posted speed limit. One of Walkable West Palm Beach’s proposed solutions is to reduce the two travel lanes in each direction from 12’ to 11’ and provide a 2’ buffer for the bike lane. It isn’t too late to correct this mistake. Please, contact FDOT and request that the 12’ lanes are reduced. After all the existing Flagler Bridge had 10’ wide lanes for 75 years.
ACTION: Send emails to the below addresses, to ask for design changes to the project to make it bike-friendly and safe:
Public Information Officer: Tish.Burgher@qcausa.com
Jim Wolfe, FDOT District 4: James.Wolfe@dot.state.ﬂ.us
FDOT Pedestrian and Bike coordinator: Billy.Hattaway@dot.state.fl.us