Street Highway Sidewalk Roadway Shoulder Definitions

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Dan Gutierrez’s graphic illustration (CVC are references to the CA vehicle code).

It seems as though I’ve had to look this up over and over. Finally, here are all the definitions, for the first time ever, together:

§28-101, 52. “Street” or “highway” means the entire width between the boundary lines of every way if a part of the way is open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular travel.

 §28-601, 22. “Roadway” means that portion of a highway that is improved, designed or ordinarily used for vehicular travel, exclusive of the berm or shoulder. If a highway includes two or more separate roadways, roadway refers to any such roadway separately but not to all such roadways collectively.

 §28-601, 24. “Sidewalk” means that portion of a street that is between the curb lines or the lateral lines of a roadway and the adjacent property lines and that is intended for the use of pedestrians.

So a sidewalk is part of the street/highway. The roadway is a very specific, limited place; and doesn’t include the shoulder. There is no specific definition of the term shoulder; though we can say for sure is it’s not part of the roadway.

Bicyclists are traffic:

§28-601,  28 “Traffic” means pedestrians, ridden or herded animals, vehicles and other conveyances either singly or together while using a highway for purposes of travel.

MUTCD

Note that the MUTCD is incorporated into ARS.  Here are the definitions as above; they seem to be entirely consistent (yay). From MUTCD 2009 revision 2; Section 1A.13 Definitions of Headings, Words, and Phrases in this Manual:

Street—see Highway; Highway—a general term for denoting a public way for purposes of vehicular travel, including the entire area within the right-of-way.

Road—see Roadway; Roadway—that portion of a highway improved, designed, or ordinarily used for vehicular travel and parking lanes, but exclusive of the sidewalk, berm, or shoulder even though such sidewalk, berm, or shoulder is used by persons riding bicycles or other human-powered vehicles.

Sidewalk—that portion of a street between the curb line, or the lateral line of a roadway, and the adjacent property line or on easements of private property that is paved or improved and intended for use by pedestrians.

Here are some more definitions related to bicycles; most of these definitions, with the exception of bicycle, are not in ARS:

Bicycle—a pedal-powered vehicle upon which the human operator sits.

Bicycle Facilities—a general term denoting improvements and provisions that accommodate or encourage bicycling, including parking and storage facilities, and shared roadways not specifically defined for bicycle use.

Bicycle Lane—a portion of a roadway that has been designated for preferential or exclusive use by bicyclists by pavement markings and, if used, signs.

Bikeway—a generic term for any road, street, path, or way that in some manner is specifically designated for bicycle travel, regardless of whether such facilities are designated for the exclusive use of bicycles or are to be shared with other transportation modes.

Designated Bicycle Route—a system of bikeways designated by the jurisdiction having authority with appropriate directional and informational route signs, with or without specific bicycle route numbers.

Shared Roadway—a roadway that is officially designated and marked as a bicycle route, but which is open to motor vehicle travel and upon which no bicycle lane is designated.

Shared-Use Path—a bikeway outside the traveled way and physically separated from motorized vehicular traffic by an open space or barrier and either within the highway right-of-way or within an independent alignment. Shared-use paths are also used by pedestrians (including skaters, users of manual and motorized wheelchairs, and joggers) and other authorized motorized and non-motorized users.

Freeway?

AFAIK, there’s not legal definition of a freeway, but in common usage, it begins with a controlled access highway:

§28-601, 2. “Controlled access highway” means a highway, street or roadway to or from which owners or occupants of abutting lands and other persons have no legal right of access except at such points only and in the manner determined by the public authority that has jurisdiction over the highway, street or roadway.

Freeways are often taken to mean a fully controlled-access highway. Where fully refers to no intersections, and all entering/leaving the highway is done through entrance/exit ramps only.

AASHTO Guide to Bicycle Facilities

The following definitions are excerpted from the list of definitions appearing in the AASHTO Guide to Bicycle Facilities, 4th Edition (2012). The definition of Shared Use Path differs slightly from that in the MUTCD:

Shared Use Path — A bikeway physically separated from motor vehicle traffic by an open space or barrier and either within the highway right-of-way or within an independent right-of-way. Shared use paths may also be used by pedestrians, skaters, wheelchair users, joggers, and other non-motorized users. Most shared use paths are designed for tow-way travel.

Shoulder — The portion of the roadway contiguous with the traveled way that accommodates stopped vehicles, emergency use, and lateral support of the subbase, base, and surface courses. Shoulders, where paved, are often used by bicyclists.

I included the shoulder definition specifically because I can’t find it elsewhere; though referred to, it’s not defined in the MUTCD, or in ARS.

3 thoughts on “Street Highway Sidewalk Roadway Shoulder Definitions”

  1. another murky area of a highway is space set aside for parking; is that part of the roadway? Are cyclists required to ride in a parking “lane” (when not occupied by cars)?

    On 4/7/2014 12:59 PM, John Forester wrote:
    > forgotten its name, and that it typically, daytime, had about 1/3 of
    > its parking slots filled. Alan was cited for not moving right to the
    > curb when between parked cars. And was convicted, as I remember.
    I asked Alan about whether he was convicted for not weaving in and out
    of parked cars and this is what he wrote:

    Yes, that was in the late 1970s, and your description is correct. The case is similar to Kevin’s in San Diego. The CHP officer, the traffic court commissioner, and the appellate court (because I did appeal) had
    no interest in what the law actually requires.

    It seems pretty clear to me that the parking lane is not part of “that portion of a highway improved, designed, or ordinarily used for vehicular travel.” You might equally well ask whether a vehicle
    traveling at less than the normal speed of traffic on an unlaned roadway would be required to drive in the parking lane in order to be as close as practicable to the right-hand edge or curb under 21654.

    What Alan is referring to is the definition of “roadway” in the California Vehicle Code. The definition in the Uniform Vehicle Code expands on it somewhat but still does not mention parking lanes. I found
    that the Model Law on Work Zone Safety attached to the Uniform Vehicle Code contains a definition for “roadway” that does include a parking lane, which just serves to confuse the issue.


    CVC 530. A “roadway” is that portion of a highway improved, designed, or ordinarily used for vehicular travel.

    Uniform Vehicle Code
    § 1-186 – Roadway — That portion of a highway improved, designed or ordinarily used for vehicular travel, exclusive of the sidewalk, berm or shoulder even though such sidewalk, berm or shoulder is used by persons riding bicycles or other human powered vehicles. In the event a highwayincludes two or more separate roadways the term “roadway” as used herein shall refer to any such roadway separately but not to all such roadways collectively.

    Model Law on Work Zone Safety
    “Roadway” means that portion of a highway improved, designed or ordinarily used for vehicular travel, exclusive of the sidewalk, berm or shoulder. Roadway includes auxiliary lanes such as lanes for parking, speed change, turning, weaving, truck climbing, and other purposes supplementary to through traffic movement. In the event a highway includes two or more separate roadways the term “roadway” shall refer to any such roadway separately but not to all such roadways collectively.

    Bob Shanteau

  2. Interesting; AZ Opinion of Attorney General 57-62 concludes that: “highway” does not include parking, but *may* include berm or shoulder.

  3. There seems to be confusion revolving around what have come to be called “Protected Bike Lane” — as in a designated bike facility that is somehow separated from the roadway that it’s ajacent to… in other words it would appear that is what is being casually called a protected bike lane isn’t actually a bike lane at all… e.g. here is a try at a technically-accurate explanation:

    In Arizona, bicycles are not vehicles, so a separated piece of highway for the purpose of bicycle travel is NOT a roadway. Bike paths are not highways in AZ, so there is no way they can have a roadway. Once you separate a bikeway from the roadway it becomes a non-roadway part of the highway, like a shoulder, path or sidewalk.

    In a somewhat related note: (left) buffered bike lane are made by placing a separation between the bike lane and the nearest general purpose travel lane; this is normally striped with two longitudinal white stripes (i.e. instead of the one bike lane stripe), and in between there may be white diagonal crosshatch markings. This appears to be covered by
    MUTCD Section 3B.24 “Chevron and diagonal crosshatch markings may be used to discourage travel on certain paved areas, such as … buffer spaces between preferential lanes and general-purpose lanes”. A BL is a preferential lane.
    This apparently is the genesis of the statement on the NHTSA’s MUTCD Bicycle Design guidance page that says: “Allowable through the 2009 MUTCD…Buffer-Separated Bicycle Lanes”.
    One oddity is the mutcd says a chevron shall (shall means must) be used when seperating same-direction flows; I’ve never seen a LBBL with a chevron, I’ve only ever seen diagonal crosshatch markings used; possibly because it isn’t possible to fit a chevron in a smallish buffer(?). Here is what a plain diagonal crosshatch looks like, e.g. on a shoulder.


    Here are some related def’ns:
    Separated Bike Lanes” per FHWA guide, defined as “an exclusive facility for bicyclists that is located within or directly adjacent to the roadway and that is physically separated from motor vehicle traffic with a vertical element. Separated bike lanes are differentiated from standard and buffered bike lanes by the vertical element. They are differentiated from shared use paths (and sidepaths) by their more proximate relationship to the adjacent roadway and the fact that they are bike-only facilities”

    ITE refers to “separated bikeway” here as – “one- or two-way exclusive bikeways parallel to the roadway yet physically separated from moving traffic by different vertical buffers. Separated bikeways are distinct from shared use paths, which are intended for bicycles and pedestrians. They also differ from bicycle lanes, which are on-street bicycle facilities separated from adjacent motor vehicles through the use of simple pavement markings and signage”
    And here they say “one-or two-way exclusive bikeways parallel to the roadway yet physically separated from moving traffic by different vertical buffers such as barriers, curbs, vehicle parking, or landscaping”

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