Protected bike lanes are on-street bike lanes with physical separation from sidewalks and/or motor vehicle traffic. They are designed for use by people riding bicycles or other micromobility devices and can increase safety, comfort, and predictability for all street users - particularly on busy streets. Protected bike lanes are one of the four types of bicycle facilities that make up Austin’s All Ages and Abilities Bicycle Network, which also includes urban trails, neighborhood bikeways, and crossings of major streets.

Protected bike lanes in Austin

Austin Transportation began building protected bike lanes in 2010 and has significantly accelerated the design and construction of these facilities in recent years. As of 2020, Austin’s bicycle network includes around 25 miles of protected bike lanes. Austin Transportation anticipates installing around 40 more miles in the coming years, many of which will be funded by the 2016 Mobility Bond’s Local Mobility Program. Learn more about recently completed, in progress, and upcoming bikeway projects on the Active Transportation Projects webpage.

Types of bike lane protection

Austin Transportation considers many factors when choosing which kind of physical barrier to propose for a protected bike lane design. These factors include available street width, cost of materials, durability, street sweeping, trash collection, stormwater runoff, perceived safety, and aesthetics. Types of barriers used in Austin include flex posts, concrete buttons, concrete curbs, parked cars, and planters.

Flex posts

A flex post-protected bike lane on Denson Drive

A flex post-protected bike lane on Zach Scott Street

Concrete buttons

A concrete button-protected bike lane on Arroyo Seco

A concrete button-protected bike lane on Shoal Creek Boulevard

Concrete curbs

A concrete curb-protected bike lane on Rio Grande Street

A concrete curb-protected bike lane on Zach Scott Street 

Parked cars

A parking-protected bike lane on San Jacinto Boulevard

A parking-protected bike lane on Guadalupe Street

Planters

A planter-protected bike lane on Barton Hills Drive

Protected intersections

Where protected bicycle lanes intersect, “protected intersections” are an engineering best practice. Protected intersection designs keep physical protection and user separation continuous through intersections.

Left: Zach Scott Street and Berkman Drive. Right: Shoal Creek Boulevard and Foster Lane. 

Buffered-to-protected bike lane projects

Austin Transportation is upgrading many existing painted and buffered bicycle lanes around Austin to physically protected bicycle lanes. The first of these projects are anticipated to be installed in 2020.

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