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Elements of Sustainable Transportation

Home Cycle Tracks
Cycle Tracks

A cycle track is an on-street bikeway that is separated from auto traffic by some sort of barrier (typically a 1 to 8 foot curb or landscaped boulevard- known as a 'sidian' or verge). The Dutch and the Danish have led the way with cycle tracks. Montreal provides a great examples N. American example cycle tracks, with many being 2-way cycle tracks on one side of the road. There is a need for on-going research as to the safety and equity of cycle tracks when compared to bike lanes.

Our current thinking is that cities in the U.S. should strive for a well-connected bike lane and cycle track systems on arterials, using cycle tracks when motor speeds are above 30mph and volumes are above 10,000 cars a day.  Ideally, a 'culture of respect' will continue to evolve, a culture that will allow bikes and cars to share 'unsegregated' street space. Perhaps a bike lane is a way to provide just enough separation to promote cycling comfort and safety, without confining bikes to the sides of arterial streets. This may be one of the most important issues in sustainable transportation. What do you think?



A cycle track is between the sidewalk and parked cars. (Denmark)

Cycle track with bus pullout. (Denmark)

Well-built and maintained bicycle facilities encourage shifts from driving to cycling. This reduces pollution, roadway expansions, and crashes. This bikeway has turn arrows. (Copenhagen)


Degrees of separation: texture, color, material, and gradient (gradient refers to the different heights of the walkway, bikeway and motorway).


Bikeway raised from the roadway. (Vancouver B.C.)


Bi-directional, separated bikeway in Montreal. This facility also serves rollerbladers and wheelchairs.  Note:  A two-way cycle track on one side of the street needs to be designed with extreme care:  intersections are particularly challenging when cyclists come from a direction that a driver does not expect.  Special signal phases can be set up at busy intersections... or a roundabout can be used to manage the flow.


The 3-foot verge, or 'sidian', between the parked white van and the bikeway creates a space for bicycle parking, benches, and landscaping, and also keeps car doors from hitting cyclists.



Without the sidian or physical barrier, cars are likely to encroach on the bikeway. (Copenhagen)


Side profile of a cycle track. Inset parking on the far left. (Copenhagen).  MIST interviewed the shop owners along this street and there was high support for this bikeway.  If this model is implemented in the United States, a cultural mind-shift would likely be needed as well as great attention to detail of how the cycle track integrates with side streets, alleys and driveways.  The U.S tends to have many more driveways entering arterial streets when compared to European cities. 


Cycle track with separate bike signal and brick surface. (the pedestrian crosswalk is blocked by cars in above example). (Holland)


Shared bikeway/ parking access lane. Parking turnover rate is a factor.

A wide curb lane for bicylists turns into a cycle track up ahead (sidewalk is on the right). (Denmark)


Note: Missoula installed cycle tracks on N. Higgins



NACTO design guide for American cycle tracks

The Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center (VTC) at Rutgers University

'Together we make biking better'

Bike Portland- To Inform and Inspire

International Bicycle Fund 

A non-governmental, nonprofit, advocacy organization, providing information and resources promoting sustainable transport and international understanding to make this planet a healthier and happier place to live

VÈlo QuÈbec- Pedaler. Agir. Transformer

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