Find local advocacy groups, bike shops, instructors, clubs, classes and more!

Find by Zip Code or City, State
Find by State
Find based on current location

Eleventh Edition of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices brings modern bicycle facilities

Way back in December 2020, the Federal Highway Administration released its first proposal for an update to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) since 2009. Now, almost exactly three years later, the 11th edition of the MUTCD is finally published.

The League of American Bicyclists has long understood the importance of the MUTCD. It is a document that provides the building blocks used throughout the United States to sign, stripe, and signal streets so that people biking, walking, and driving have clear indications of how they are expected to interact no matter where they are in our nation. For more than a decade, the League has participated in the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices to ensure that developments in safe bicycle facilities turn into proposals for standards, guidance, and support for their implementation nationwide. With the 11th edition of the MUTCD, modern bicycle facilities like buffered and separated bike lanes, bicycle signals, and interstate bicycle routes are included in the toolbox for America’s  streets.

This edition of the MUTCD started on a rocky foundation. The first proposal had a drafting error that could be read to ban bicyclists. The League was the first to identify that error and alerted FHWA, resulting in a near immediate correction. The final language affirms that bicycles are “generally allowed on rights-of-way open to motor vehicles.”

Other sections of the proposed MUTCD had issues too. We cataloged and commented on them extensively, ultimately submitting over 200 itemized comments as an organization and over 2,000 comments from our supporters. 

Over time, we will dig into each of the sections, but here is a high-level look at some of our key interests and how the 11th edition of the MUTCD dealt with them.

RecommendationFinal RuleRating
Embrace the Safe System Approach
Road user definition recognizes human errors and vulnerabilities
Justification for adding traffic signals to an intersection no longer requires people to die to meet warrant 
Highlight: “Protection of vulnerable users is a priority in this Manual”
Lowlight: Crash Experience warrant still requires people to be injured or killed to meet warrant for justifying a traffic signal
4 out of 5 bikes
Remove barriers to lower speed limits
All guidance recommending the use of 85th percentile speeds removed
Bicyclist safety considered in speed limit setting
Highlight: Roadway context must be considered in engineering studies related to speed limit setting
Lowlight: The 85th percentile lives on, even in a diminished state
4 out of 5 bikes
Enable better bike networks
Protected bike lanes included
Restrictive “shall” statements modified to allow flexibility
Highlight: “Turns on red shall be prohibited across separated bicycle lanes while bicyclists are allowed to proceed through the intersection”
Lowlight: Many restrictive “shall” statements not modified
3 out of 5 bikes
Allow context-sensitive solutions that orient streets to people
Interesting art allowed in crosswalks
Colored paint allowed for bike facilities
Highlight: Colored paint allowed for bike lanes and bus lanes
Lowlight: Art in crosswalks discouraged if the art is interpreted to be “designed to encourage road users to remain in the crosswalk, engage or interact with the pattern, or otherwise inhibit users from crossing the street in a safe and efficient manner”
2 of 5 bikes
Rewrite the Autonomous Vehicle chapter
Chapter removed pending more inclusive process
Bicyclist safety, not just machine vision, used as justification for separated bike lanes
Highlight: Potentially benefiting human road users is listed as a reason for implementing separated bike lanes
Lowlight: Avoidance of decorative elements in crosswalks added to marking section
2 out of 5
More experimentation encouraged
Fewer than 11 steps to request experimentation of new traffic control device
No requirement to attest that experimental device is in the public domain
Highlight: FHWA adopted new optional processes to reduce burdens on agencies interested in experimentation and divert them from experimentation
Lowlight: Few changes to make actual experimentation process easier
1 out of 5