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MUTCD Requirements for Bike Traffic Safety Signs

As vehicle technology has advanced, the conveyances that get us where we need to go have become faster and more powerful.  It is easy to forget about the humble beginnings of transportation, and they are sometimes neglected in larger road-building plans.  Fortunately, the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) outlines required modifications and phase-ins that are necessary to accommodate bicycles, pedestrians, and other modes of transportation that must be separated from vehicular traffic.  Certain traffic safety devices and signs are needed to clearly delineate and separate areas designated for bike lanes and other non-motorized traffic, for the safety of all road users.

Requirements for bike lane signage are varied, but the MUTCD states that just because a road lacks a clearly-marked bicycle lane does not mean that bicyclists are disallowed on the roadway.  General requirements for bicycle-related separation include a standardized legend, shape and color for all signs. Also, signs must be retroreflectorized to be installed on bikeways such as shared-use paths and bicycle facilities, and signs should be designed and installed to serve the needs of both bicyclists and other users.

Traffic safety signs are also extremely important for pedestrians in all areas of the road system, with a special emphasis on school areas.  The MUTCD directs that the most effective use of traffic control devices be utilized to ensure the safety of pedestrians and should be the goal in the development of effective traffic control strategies.  The safety of pedestrians depends on the overall understanding between road users and the designers of those roads.  For instance, traffic separator curbing can be implemented along bus loading and unloading zones to ensure moving traffic and pedestrians do not mix.  School crossing signals or crossing guard programs are essential where children cross major intersections or portions of roadways.  Uniform application and enforcement of signage combined with efficient use of traffic control equipment will create an environment of understanding and safety.

Due to the weight, mass and design of motorized vehicles in comparison to vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and bicyclists, the need for proper signs and equipment designed to separate the two classes of shared-use roadways is imperative – especially in school zones where age of those pedestrians and distractions from potential roadway hazards are common.    The MUTCD gives a clear outline of proper procedures and equipment that can be used to keep those vulnerable road users safe.