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More people cycling, more places, more often

More on advisory bike lanes

What are advisory bike lanes?

An Advisory Bike Lane defines a preferred space for bicyclists and motorists to operate on narrow streets that would otherwise be a shared roadway environment. The central, narrow driving lane has two advisory bike lanes on either side and when drivers coming in opposite directions meet, they must enter the advisory bike lane to pass.

Are advisory bike lanes All Ages and Abilities? Do advisory bike lanes attract new users?

Maybe. There is a massive research gap for advisory bike lanes in North America. There are no multi-city studies into advisory bike lanes that answer key questions around comfort and attractiveness. Here’s what we don’t know:

  • How comfortable bike riders are on advisory bike lanes
  • Whether or not advisory bike lanes attract new users
  • Whether or not advisory bike lanes increase the number of women and children riding

Note that this is stark contrast with true AAA bikeway types (protected bike lanes, trails and very low volume neighbourhood bikeways), all of which have been proven to increase ridership and especially ridership amongst women or children via counts and surveys of comfort.

What research does exist for advisory bike lanes in North America?

Not much. As of December 2019, only a single paper has been published (and all its authors worked for the City of Ottawa).

Almost all the other research has been done by a single engineer, Michael Williams, who also runs advisorybikelanes.com. Here is the list of ABL documents written by him:

There are also a few staff reports about advisory bike lanes installed in various places, including Gibson’s:

None of the research, nor the staff reports above are able to answer the fundamental questions about whether or not ABLs increase use.

Weren’t protected bike lanes new once too?

Absolutely! When the City of Victoria proposed the Pandora protected bike lane, the GVCC did a lot of research about protected bike lanes and what designs worked the best. We were guided by the excellent Lessons from the Green Lanes report, which looked at protected bike lanes across the United States and Cycling in Cities program from SFU/UBC. Crucially, that research looked at bike volumes, comfort and safety across a whole variety of different designs, research that is lacking for advisory bike lanes in North America.

Isn’t the City already installing advisory bike lanes on Humboldt?

Yes. As part of the Wharf/Humboldt bikeway project, the city will be installing advisory bike lanes on Humboldt St from Douglas St to Vancouver St in 2020.

Part of why we are arguing against advisory bike lanes on Richardson is that we haven’t seen whether or not they will work here, given the lack of evidence elsewhere.

Don’t the Dutch have lots of advisory bike lanes?

Yes, but Dutch design almost always requires the bike lane to be coloured in completely.

What could be used instead of advisory bike lanes?

Shared streets with volumes at or below 1000 cars/day, with extensive traffic calming and wayfinding sharrows. See our Richardson page for more details