Signs & Symbols Glossary

Philadelphia uses a variety of signs and icons to designate bicycle lanes and other bicycle infrastructure. Here is a guide to icons you may see around town and what they mean.

Standard Bike Lane

A standard bike lane. These lanes are 1-way and flow in the direction of the adjacent vehicle travel lane. Cars are not allowed to drive here except when avoiding obstacles or merging to make a turn. Cars and trucks’ ability to stop or stand in these lanes varies depending on the location.

These bike lanes may be placed adjacent to a line of parked cars. When riding in those lanes, make sure to scan the “door zone” (the range a car door can sweep, if opened). It is legal in Philadelphia to bike outside of the bike lane in order to avoid this danger. Should someone open a car door into a bicyclist, that is called “dooring” and is a summary offense in Pennsylvania.

Standard bike lane

Mixing Zone

This indicates the area in which vehicles may merge into the bike lane to prepare to make a turn. Vehicles must yield to bicycles already occupying that space. Not all bike lanes are dashed at all intersections. If a car enters the turn lane ahead of you, do not squeeze between the car and the curb. Wait your turn, or pass the car on the left.

Mixing Lane

Buffered Bike Lane

A buffered bike lane, which provides more space between vehicles and bicycles. The laws and principles that apply to standard bike lanes also apply here.

Buffered Bike lane in Philadelphia

Green Bike Lane

Same as a normal bike lane, but painted green for better visibility. Contrary to rumor, green lanes are not more slippery in the rain.

The dashed section visible in this photo is one type of mixing zone. Bicycles and vehicles must yield to whomever is farther ahead when changing lanes here.

Green Bike Lane


NOT a bike lane. This symbol, the name of which is a combination of “share” and “arrow,” is simply a reminder to drivers that they should expect to share the street with bicycles. The sharrow’s position in the lane also indicates where in the street a bicyclist should ride.

In Philadelphia a bicyclist may ride in any lane, regardless of whether there is a sharrow painted in that lane.


Bus/Bike Lane

Found along Chestnut and Walnut Streets in Center City Philadelphia. This lane is reserved for buses and bicycles only. In practice this is not regularly enforced by the police.

Bus and Bike lane in Philadelphia

Bike Box

This is a space designated for bicyclists waiting at the light. Bicyclists can use this space to get ahead of traffic in order to make a turn that would otherwise be across multiple lanes of traffic. It also makes bicyclists more visible to vehicles waiting to make a turn.

Bike Box in Philadelphia

Contraflow Lane

A bike lane explicitly designated in the opposite direction of adjacent travel. Unless marked like this, all bike lanes are one-way, the same direction as adjacent vehicular travel lanes.

contraflow lane in Philly

Protected Bike Lane and Parking Protected Bike Lane

Protected bike lanes are the safest bike lanes and considered the standard for new build outs. These bike lanes can be standard (with traffic), contraflow (against traffic) or 2-way, and are currently located at a number of key corridors in Philadelphia. Protected bike lanes provide some kind of physical separation — whether curbing, flex posts, planters, or parked motor vehicles — between motor vehicle traffic and bicycle traffic on streets.

Protected Bike Lane in Philadelphia being installed
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