Bike Lanes 101

Figure 1.  League of American Bicyclists video illustrating how to use a conventional bike lane.

What's a Bike Lane?

A bike lane is a space on the street reserved for people driving a bicycle.  Little Rock has begun installing bike lanes to make our transportation system safer for bicyclists and more convenient for motorists sharing the road with them.

How are Bike Lanes Used?

Whether driving a bike or car, it is important to understand how bikes and cars should move on a street with bike lanes.

Basically, a bike lane should be treated by all road users as a traffic lane that only accommodates bikes.  Typically this is the safest place for someone on a bike.  Some instances when a bicyclist should leave the bike lane and occupy the vehicular traffic lane to the left include:

1) When passing another bicycle in the bike lane

2) When skirting debris in the bike lane

3) When turning left

4) When going straight and a vehicle has crossed into the bike lane to turn right

Remember, when changing lanes from the bike lane to a vehicular lane, a bicyclist must signal and yield to occupants of that lane in the same way as if both road users were in cars.

Conventional Bike Lane Markings

With the exception of Louisiana St. from 4th St. to 11th St., all of the bike lanes installed in the City of Little Rock are conventional bike lanes.  Conventional bike lanes typically have a solid white line separating the lane from vehicular traffic lanes, but the solid white line can become dashed and even absent in some locations along the lane.  These differences indicate how bicycles and cars should move

Solid white line:  Bike lanes are typically separated from vehicular lanes by a solid white line, reinforcing to drivers that vehicles do not belong in the bike lane.  However, there are instances in which cars should cross this solid white line, including to enter or exit a driveway or if there are street parking options available to the right of the bike lane.  Bikes may also cross the solid white line, especially for the reasons noted above.

Dashed white line: Dashed white lines warn drivers and bicyclists that lane changes are more common in the zone.  Dashed white lines may be used close to an intersection, at which drivers may be crossing into the bike lane to turn right and bicyclists may be crossing into the vehicular lane to turn left or to go around a car in the bike lane turning right.  If the bike lane ends and bike traffic must merge into a vehicular lane (such as on N. Rodney Parham close to Cantrell), dashed white lines will help indicate the merge to drivers and bicyclists.  Dashed white lines may also be used at major driveways to highlight to drivers bike traffic in the bike lane to which they must yield and warn bicyclists of traffic moving in and out of the driveway.

No line:  Despite what the video below shows, bike lane markings typically stop within intersections (just as all other lane markings stop) to allow and not confuse complex traffic movement within intersections.  Bike lane markings may stop at both major driveways and intersections.