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Designing Bus Stop Islands for Active Traveler Comfort and User Safety


It has been 30 years since the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in the U.S. and resulted in a rapid evolution in design standards for accessible facilities. Public agencies have been upgrading sidewalks, bus stops, and other elements of the public right of way since then, but many facilities still do not meet the minimum ADA standards (1). At the same time, design guidance for bicycle facilities has expanded, especially for facilities that physically separate people on bicycles from vehicles. Corridors that are strong candidates for separated bicycle facilities often have high multimodal demands, and bus stops along bicycle corridors concentrate pedestrian, bicycle, and bus activity. However, there is a lack of design guidance on how to improve the bus stops at these transit hubs to maximize the comfort of riders, particularly those with disabilities. Hence the objective of the proposed study is to develop bus stop design recommendations on corridors with separated bicycle facilities that address perceived and empirical bus rider safety concerns.

Designers and people with disabilities are still developing new designs for accessible infrastructure, and feedback from vulnerable transit riders indicates that it is important to understand which tradeoffs are acceptable at bus stops and which elements are essential. Engineers, planners, and those using the public right of way would benefit from improved design guidance based on qualitative and quantitative studies of bus rider comfort and safety at bus stops on multimodal corridors.


The objective of the proposed study is to develop bus stop design recommendations on corridors with bicycle facilities that address perceived and empirical pedestrian and bus rider safety concerns. The proposed research should consider, at a minimum, activity levels (pedestrians, bicycles, buses, and other vehicles), sight distances, and accessibility needs. This study will then develop recommendations for considering those criteria in facility designs. The project tasks should consist of:


Increasing percentages of people in every state are living in urban areas where conflicts between pedestrians, bicyclists, and buses are most likely. The results and findings of this project will supplement the information provided in the AASHTO Bike Guide, NACTO Transit Street Design Guide, and other existing documents for bicycle and transit facilities by giving more detailed recommendations on bus stop design. Without this research, facilities with decades-long lifespans may be designed without appropriately considering the most vulnerable roadway users.

Related Research:

Literature on ADA accessibility of bus stops has typically focused on meeting existing standards, including prioritization models for updating bus stops (1), the reduced demand for paratransit services with improved fixed route bus stop access and amenities (2), and surveying users to understand challenges of bus access (3). Researchers have implemented video-based methods to evaluate pedestrian-bicycle conflicts (4), including at bus stops along bike paths (5). These methods have not yet been applied to compare different bus stop designs along separated bike lanes.

A recent synthesis of stop design practices was completed before more expanded guidance and construction of separated bike lanes (6). A few guidance documents and research have focused specifically on shared bicycle/bus lanes (7–9), while others discuss a broader range of transit and bicycle facility designs (10–12). Some guidance documents include recommendations for when to provide a shared bicycle/bus lane instead of a mixed traffic curb lane. Selecting whether bus stops include boarding islands, where the bike lane is between the bus stop and the sidewalk, is often based on right of way or cost constraints, so there is limited guidance on when that design is most effective and little research on bus rider comfort with boarding islands next to bicycle facilities. When bus riders are not comfortable with bus stop facilities it can discourage ridership on fixed route services and push ADA users to paratransit services when existing routes could serve their needs, reducing bus rider mobility and increasing agency costs.


This project will develop specific recommendations that practitioners can apply in roadway designs along multimodal corridors. It will consider both lower-cost, temporary design options and durable, long-term design options. Roadway designers and planners are seeking best practices for bicycle and transit facilities that improve comfort and safety for all road users, including which elements are essential in designs and which are additional amenities. The results of this study will provide traffic engineers with research they need for implementing newer designs to improve comfort and reduce conflicts and ultimately crashes along multimodal corridors. The findings of this research will be disseminated via a research report and webinars conducted as part of the implementation plan.

Sponsoring Committee:ACH20, Bicycle Transportation
Research Period:12 - 24 months
RNS Developer:Lee Reis
Source Info:Potential panel members include members of TRB’s ACH10, ACH20, AP025 and members of AASHTO’s Technical Committee on Nonmotorized Transportation Committee.
Date Posted:10/27/2020
Date Modified:01/15/2021
Index Terms:Bus stops, Traffic islands, Passenger comfort, Transit riders, Bus transit, Design, Nonmotorized transportation, Transit safety,
Cosponsoring Committees:ACH10, Pedestrians; AP025, Public Transportation Planning and Development
Pedestrians and Bicyclists
Public Transportation
Terminals and Facilities

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