Here in San Diego, we have a wide variety of bicycling facilities. Some are quite new to the city while others have been around since the 1970’s. The way it breaks down is this:
Class I (Bike Path):
A separated path for bicycles. This is also known as a multi-use path, so watch for pedestrians. The Silver Strand Bike Path and other shorter paths in the area are a good example of this type. Motor vehicles, including motorcycles, are not allowed on these paths.
Class II (Bike Lane):
A lane that is striped for bicycles only. The lane can be adjacent to the roadway edge, adjacent to curbside parking, or a buffered lane. The optimal one is at the roadway edge and/or buffered. This gives a good separation between faster traffic and the bicycle lane. The lane next to parking is known as a “door zone” lane, which can be unsafe and should be ridden with caution. Motor vehicles, including motorcycles, can only enter a bicycle lane to turn.
Class III (Bike Route):
Bike Routes are nothing more than a roadway with a sign along side it. These usually have no special markings on the roadway. Some roads in San Diego have special striping however. This striping is known as a “Sharrow” or Shared Lane Marking. These markings tell motorists to expect cyclists along the roadway and approximately where they should be riding. These markings should be beyond the “door zone” and are usually a good place to ride.
Sometimes there are special features built into other roadways that aren’t marked for bicycles but do help them. Well placed median breaks and curb cuts can help crossing busy roadways where cars cannot.