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Buffered Bike Lanes

3D Rendering by the National Association of City Transportation Officials showing buffered bike lanes installed on a city street

A buffered bike lane is similar to a regular bike lane, but also includes a marked buffer between the bike lane and adjacent travel lanes. The purpose of a buffered bike lane is to provide extra elbow room for bicyclists to increase safety.

The buffer is placed between the bike lane and travel lane. The buffer is marked with white chevrons to indicate that no vehicles are allowed to travel in the buffered area.

Image of Bike Lanes from NACTO Design Guideline.

Cyclist biking down 2nd Street in Milwaukee, riding in a buffered bike lane.

To the left is an example of a buffered bike lane installed on 2nd Street in the Walker's Point neighborhood here in Milwaukee.

When driving by buffered bike lanes remember:

1. A buffered bike lane is restricted to bicycle traffic, unless you need to turn, enter, or leave the roadway.

2. You are not allowed to drive in the bike lane or buffered area, even to pass other motorists.

3. Whenever you must cross a bike lane to prepare for a turn, look over your right shoulder for bicyclists approaching the intersection. If a bicyclist is approaching the intersection, you must yield and let them pass before turning.

When biking in a buffered bike lane remember:

1. Don’t ride the wrong way in any type of bike lane (buffered, protected or conventional). The buffered area is not intended for opposite flow bicycle traffic.

2. Whenever you enter or exit the bike lane, make sure to signal and yield to vehicles already in adjacent travel lane

Illustration of proper way bicyclists and motorists should engage with each other on a road with buffered bike lanes. Motorists should drive to the left of the buffer. Do not use the bike lane to pass other vehicles. Bicyclists ride in the bike lane.