Bicycle Safety Guide and Countermeasure Selection System



Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices Signing can be used to provide useful information to all road users about where to expect bicyclists to be safely riding.
Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices



Sign Improvements for Bicyclists

Signs convey important information that can improve road safety. The intent is to let bicyclists and motorists know what to expect, thus improving the chances that they will react and behave appropriately. For example, the use of a NO PARKING IN BIKE LANE sign is intended to keep this space clear for cyclists. Sign use and placement should be done carefully; overuse often results in non-compliance and/or disrespect. Excessive use of signs can also create visual clutter and lead to the intended sign and message getting "lost."

Regulatory signs, such as STOP, YIELD, or turn restrictions require driver actions and are enforceable. NO TURN ON RED signs can improve safety for bicyclists (and pedestrians). Problems often occur where right turns on red are permitted, especially if bicyclists are approaching the crossing from the right, riding the wrong way either in the street, or on a sidewalk or path, as motorists tend to look to the left for a gap in traffic.

Warning signs can also provide useful information. An example is the SHARE THE ROAD sign, which serves to let motorists know that bicyclists may be on the road and that they should be mindful and respectful of them. This sign is typically placed along roads with significant bicycle traffic but relatively hazardous conditions for riding, such as narrow travel lanes with no shoulder, roads or streets with poor sight distance, or a bridge crossing with no accommodation for bicycles. Alternatively, BIKES MAY USE FULL LANE signs may be used in these situations; however, these are typically used for shorter distances (e.g., on a bridge or narrow segment of roadway).

Wayfinding signs provide information about destinations, direction, and distance to help bicyclists determine the best routes to take to major destinations. Signs provide on-the-ground information that helps bicyclists understand and use the on-street and trail network without the use of a map. Directional signs also provide additional messaging to motorists to expect bicycles on the roadway. The presence of signs encourages bicycling on designated corridors because bicyclists feel the signs will direct them to the best route for getting to their destination. Signs may also be used to direct bicyclists around barriers. See wayfinding for more information.

All signs should be periodically checked to make sure that they are in good condition, free from graffiti, reflective at night, and continue to serve a purpose.


Signs provide warning and regulatory messages, as well as useful information to all road users. NO TURN ON RED signs can increase bicycle safety and decrease crashes with right-turning vehicles; SHARE THE ROAD signs can make motorists more aware of bicyclists on roads with poor bicycle accommodations; and wayfinding signs direct bicyclists to the best routes connecting destinations or circumventing barriers, while indicating to motorists that bicyclists may be present.


  • Streets with bicycle traffic should be evaluated to determine if sign improvements could improve safety.
  • Prohibiting right turn on red (RTOR) is a simple, low-cost measure. The change can benefit bicyclists on streets with considerable through bicycle traffic.
  • Part-time RTOR prohibitions during the busiest times of the day may be sufficient to address the problem, but the impact on motor vehicle traffic should be studied.
  • RTOR signs should be clearly visible to right-turning motorists stopped in the curb lane at the crosswalk.
  • Carefully evaluate use of both regulatory and warning signs. Avoid overuse which may lead to non-compliance or visual clutter.

Estimated Cost

Signs not included in the table but pertinent to pedestrian and bicyclists include (all costs are approximated and per unit): bike route signage ($160), no turn on red signage ($220 for a metal sign or $3,200 for an electronic sign), in-pavement yield paddles ($240), trail regulation sign ($160), and trail wayfinding/information sign (range from $530 to $2,150).

Min. Low
Max. High
Cost Unit
# of Sources (Observations)
Stop/Yield Signs

Safety Effects

A summary of studies that examine the safety effects of sign improvements for bicyclists can be found here.


To view references for this countermeasure group click here.

Case Studies

Portland, Oregon
Vancouver, Washington
Eugene, Oregon
Cambridge, Massachusetts
University Place, Washington
Seattle, Washington
Portland, Oregon
Davis, California
St. Petersburg, Florida