For this question, I'm referring to bike lanes of the type shown here:

Central Montreal Bike Lanes

To me they seem like a really bad idea. Firstly, one of the lanes is going against traffic. In this instance, the cars turning left at the intersection have to look behind them to see if bikes are coming from behind. Also, it seems that it would be really difficult to pass another cyclist if the path was busy, since the only way to move around another cyclist is to go into the opposite lane, against the traffic of the other bikes. The only advantage I can see over regular bike paths is that for the most part you are cut off from the cars. However, I've never had a problem with cars using "regular" bike lanes. Are there any studies as to how well these lanes work? Does anybody have any experience with these kids of bike lanes? How do you like them compared to other types of bike lanes?

Part of my concern is shown in this video (skip to 2:50). The lanes seem to move really slowly, and there seems to be a lot of people in the wrong lane completely. It seems like it would be nice for people taking a leisurely Sunday ride with the kids, but if your actually trying to commute and get somewhere in at a reasonable speed, it seems like it would be impossible.

  • I'm always a little leery of these, but time will tell how well they work out. On the other hand, anything that gets more cyclists thinking like they're operating a vehicle is a good thing. And maybe if auto drivers seem cyclists on these paths, this will help shift bikes into the "vehicle" category in their minds. Jul 27, 2011 at 0:06
  • 1
    You weird non-dutch people ;) We have them all over the place, and they're perfectly fine. You can easily bike next to each other, and pass two bikes from the opposite direction which also bike next to each other. The persons on the inside should just go slightly back (front-wheel next to the back-wheel of the 'outside' person, so that you can bike a little closer). As for passing, a single person can easily pass another single person if a single person from the opposite side is passing. If you want to overtake a couple, ring.
    – markijbema
    Aug 2, 2011 at 21:25
  • I find it much easier to overtake more casual cyclists on a double bike lane than on a single, protected bikelane. With a bit of care you an fit 3 and even 4 cyclists on a stretch this wide, where on half the width it is hard to fit 2 cyclists due to the danger of the raised curbs.
    – Pelle
    Nov 26, 2021 at 13:25

3 Answers 3


Studies done by the school of Health at Harvard, and published in Injury Prevention, are showing these to be safer.


  • Studies reported by Forrester some years back came to the opposite conclusion, but that was for all "sidepaths" vs the specific "cycle tracks" described in your link. Jul 26, 2011 at 23:48
  • 60% to 85% of the injury risk.
    – ChrisW
    Jul 27, 2011 at 0:34
  • 2
    This study compares the bicycle tracks shown above but "compared with one or two reference streets without bicycle facilities". The result in this case seems obvious. However, what happens if you compare them to regular bike lanes? +1 though for citing an actual scientific study.
    – Kibbee
    Jul 27, 2011 at 14:56
  • When I see where they use them in the Netherlands I'd say you want double lanes when there are less junctions, and normal lanes when there are more junctions. I expect there is dutch research about this as well, but I don't have any references I'm afraid.
    – markijbema
    Aug 3, 2011 at 8:07

Bike lanes like this work well in London city centre. Being separated from the traffic is a major bonus. In a number of places they use separate traffic lights for the bike lane so the cars aren't crossing the lane when the bikes are on the junction. In other places, there are no right turn, or no left turn junctions to protect the bike lane (common in a city centre due to the number of one way streets).

Given the number of junctions in London, the number of traffic lights, pedestrians etc, it just isn't safe to travel above about 12mph anyway and these lanes are perfectly safe for passing the oncoming bikes and the occasional overtake at these speeds. In general the stretches I use which are laid out like this are relatively short.

The biggest issue is actually the pedestrians who aren't expecting the bikes to come from both directions. Judicious use of the bell is needed to warn them. This has got better with familiarity, and it is only the occasional tourist who seems unsure, but the tourists tend to be more wary and aren't sure which side of the road we drive on anyway!

  • Montreal is another city with a similar setup. Bikes get a head-start at traffic lights, and the curb seperating the bikes from cars is very effective at preventing the majority of close-calls on bicycles.
    – STW
    Jul 27, 2011 at 2:31

The seperated bike lanes in Vancouver seem to work well over here.

In my limited riding on these lanes, here are the some advantages that I have observed:

  • Bikes get a separate set of traffic lights
  • Cars have a controlled right turn signal, so minimal chance of a car turning right into a cyclist
  • Essentially separated from cars, your only potential contact with a car is at an intersection

I do agree that the lanes are sometimes narrow, and maintaining momentum behind a slower cyclist going uphill may be difficult. I don't ride on them during rush hour, but they don't seem crowded enough to cause cyclists to overtake dangerously or otherwise ride irresponsibly.

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