Video: How to Use Contra-Flow Bike Lanes

Learn How to Use Contra-Flow Bike Lanes

Contra-flow bicycle lanes are bicycle lanes designed to allow bicyclists to ride in the opposite direction of motor vehicle traffic. They convert a one-way traffic street into a two-way street: one direction for motor vehicles and bikes, and the other for bikes only. Contra-flow lanes are separated with yellow center lane striping.

Like the name implies, contra-flow bike lanes are designed to allow cyclists to bike against traffic in certain areas. They aim to provide connectivity for traveling by bicycle in complex street grids and can reduce dangerous wrong-way or sidewalk riding. For instance, this contra-flow bike lane in Oakland begins at Bellefield Ave, where Forbes Ave goes from a two-way street to a one-way street, simplifying access to Schenley Plaza, Pitt’s campus, and bike lanes on Bigelow Boulevard. Watch our 60-second video for tips on how to use the Forbes Ave contra-flow bike lane!

City Cycling Tips: Riding in Contra-Flow Bike Lanes

Ride against traffic

First, Contra-flow bike lanes are designed for you to ride against traffic. Riding the wrong way in these lanes can be dangerous and may lead to a collision with another cyclist.

Check for the bicycle signal

Stop on red, go on green! When approaching this bike lane, be sure to stop at the stop line if the bicycle signal is red. Wait for the bicycle signal to turn green, then proceed across the intersection. Forbes Ave at Bellefield Ave is a complex intersection with various traffic lights, so be sure to ONLY follow the bicycle signal when riding a bike.

Be aware of your surroundings

Above all, it’s important to remember your city cycling basics, and be aware of your surroundings. Contra-flow bike lanes are very useful, but they’re not all the same. For example, not every contra-flow bike lane has a bicycle signal, so always pay attention to traffic lights, vehicles, and pedestrians.

A closer look at Forbes and Bellefield

1. To accommodate bicycle travel at this intersection, the City installed our first ever bicycle signal and a dedicated signal phase for people on bicycles to follow across the intersection.

2. For people on bicycles to turn left onto Bellefield, a two-stage turning pocket is cut into the sidewalk.

Share these tips with a friend

The Forbes Ave contra-flow bike lane provides cyclists with an safer, protected route when riding in Oakland. Whether you’re commuting or riding for fun, it’s important to understand how contra-flow bike lanes work. These lanes are a big improvement to keeping our city’s cyclists safe, as long as everyone is informed and follows traffic laws. Thanks for watching, and be sure to share these tips with a friend!

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