Mixed traffic lanes are common to most roads, where no formal cycle facilities are provided and cyclists can share the roads with general traffic. Note that neighbourhood greenways are also technically 'mixed traffic' situations as cyclists share the road space with general traffic. However, the vehicle volumes and speeds on neighbourhood greenways make them suitable for interested but concerned people to cycle along, whereas the general mixed traffic lanes considered in this section are only appropriate to enthused and confident cyclists. Bus lanes and transit lanes are not mixed traffic lanes, as they involve restrictions on the types of motor vehicles that can use them.

Traffic lanes where cyclists are expected to mix with general traffic should be either:

  • wide enough for cyclists to ride adjacent to motor vehicles; or
  • so narrow that cyclists must ‘take the lane’ and ride behind or in front of motor vehicles.

Wide lanes are generally provided in the kerbside position, or next to parking as cyclists generally occupy the leftmost lane where they have moving traffic on only one side.  A wide lane in the kerbside position is the preferred on-road facility for the enthused and confident audience in locations where cross-sectional width is too limited to provide dedicated cycle facilities and part-time parking is required, such as in clearways. If slightly more cross-sectional width is available and the route is aimed at a range of users, then cycle lanes or separated cycleways are preferred.

In-between traffic lane widths should be avoided (unless a suitable alternative cycle facility is provided directly adjacent to the lane) as these can result in drivers or cyclists attempting to pass each other when it is not safe to do so.


Check whether a mixed traffic (see Shared roadway section) situation is a suitable facility for your target users and for the type of road.

  • Concept design considerations


    Currently some guidance for wide lanes is contained within Austroads and MOTSAM but there is no guidance regarding narrow traffic lanes. TCD Manual Part 5 will provide details regarding the widths required for wide and narrow mixed traffic lanes. In the interim, best practice guidance is provided below.

    Wide traffic lanes

    On urban roads the appropriate width of wide traffic lanes is a function of the speed limit and whether there is on-street parking present. The table below provides desirable minimum widths and acceptable ranges.

    Tables: Wide Traffic Lane Dimensions

    Without parking

    Lane width2

    Speed limit1 (km/hour)



    Desirable minimum width



    Acceptable range




    With parking

    Lane width2,5

    Speed limit1 (km/hour)



    Desirable minimum width



    Acceptable range





    1. The speed limit is used unless 85th percentile speeds are significantly higher.

    2. Interpolation for different road speeds is acceptable.

    3. This width is the absolute minimum width and should only be used in low speed environments (85th percentile speed of 40 km/h and below) and when it is not possible to achieve a wider kerbside lane.

    4. Where greater width is available than identified here, consideration should be given to providing a cycle lane. If lanes are too wide, car drivers may attempt to travel two abreast.

    5. This is the lane width clear of the parking lane.

    On rural roads, wide lanes and narrow shoulders are less beneficial to people on bikes than conventional width traffic lanes with wider shoulders. Therefore, on rural roads, wide shoulders are the preferred treatment (as opposed to wide lanes) if cycle lanes or cycle paths cannot be provided.

    Narrow urban road traffic lanes

    Narrow traffic lanes require cyclists and motorists to travel in single file – sharing the lane. Only a small proportion of cyclists will be comfortable with this form of provision, which requires a cyclist to ‘take the lane’. The lane must be narrow enough that cyclists and other vehicles must travel in single file, a width of 3.0 m or narrower is appropriate and the following conditions must exist:

    • traffic must operate at slow speeds (30 km/h or less)
    • the traffic volumes are low (below 3,000 vehicles/day)
    • the traffic lane is not directly adjacent to a high turnover parking lane
    • the treatment is over short lengths, approximately one or two blocks; longer distances may evoke driver impatience, as most cyclists will be travelling at speeds of around 20 km/h
    • the road is not a bus route; where buses will be present (or could be in the future) the minimum width should be 3.2 m.
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