Understanding Bike Symbols, Signs, and Pavement Markings (For Cyclists and Drivers)


Bike Lanes

When you bike: Striped bike lanes designate a dedicated space on the roadway for bicycles to ride. They are marked by a bike stencil with an arrow and a bike lane sign. Always travel in the same direction as traffic.

When you drive: A bike lane is restricted to automobile traffic, except in instances when you need to enter or leave the roadway or park adjacent to the bike lane. Always yield to thru bicyclists when you cross a bike lane. When parking adjacent to the bike lane look for approaching bicyclists before you open your door


Sharrow & Lane Usage

When you bike: Sharrows designate a safe and visible place to ride. Sharrows also indicate the correct direction to travel. To assist with safety for the cyclist, some locations will allow the full lane use.

When you drive: Keep an eye out for all types of travel — bikes, pedestrians, skateboards, etc. Drive slowly and give ample room when passing.


Bike Route

When you bike: A bicycle route is a suggested route to get to a specific destination. Bike routes are usually located on low traffic volume streets or scenic, direct routes that are preferred to bicyclists.

When you drive: Be aware of when you are traveling on a designated bike route. Look out for bikes that may be present and pass bicycles safe and legally.

Share the Road signShare the Road sign

Share the Road

When you bike: Intended to increase bicyclists’ visibility without designating the signed roadway a preferred route. It is intended for use on roadways with high levels of bicycle traffic but relatively hazardous conditions for bicyclists.

When you drive: The "Share the Road" sign advise motorists that they are driving in, or approaching, a bicycle priority street. These signs alert motorists to the presence of bicyclists and advise them to exercise caution.

Green signs pointing to Wescott Park and Metra Station

Wayfinding Signs

When you bike: Wayfinding signs help bicyclists and pedestrians get to where they want to go. A bicycle wayfinding system consists of comprehensive signing and/or pavement markings to guide bicyclists to their destinations along preferred bicycle routes. Signs are typically placed at decision points along bicycle routes – typically at the intersection of two or more bikeways and at other key locations leading to and along bicycle routes.

When you drive: These signs alert motorists to the presence of bicyclists and advise them they are driving in, or approaching, a bicycle priority street. When parking on streets with wayfinding signs always look for approaching bicyclists before you open your door.

Sign showing that cars must stay 3 feet away from bikers - it's the law

3 Feet - It's the Law

When you bike: A new State bicycle safety policy that has gained significant interest and activity in state legislatures is 3-feet or safe passing laws. These laws seek to ensure that, when passing bicycles, motor vehicles allow adequate space to avoid sideswiping bicyclists or causing them to overcorrect to avoid a vehicle.

When you drive: Drivers must yield the right of way to a bicyclist just as they would to another vehicle. When passing a bicyclist, motorists must do so slowly and leave at least 3 feet of passing space.

Bike Maintenance Checklist (ABC Quick Check)

“Before you head out on a ride, try the “ABC Quick Check ” to ensure a safe ride:

  1. “A” = Air:  Check the sidewall of the tire and inflate tires to the rated pressure as indicated on the sidewall. Use a pressure gauge to ensure proper tire pressure. Check if there’s any damage to tire tread and sidewall; replace tire if they’re worn.
  2. “B” = Brakes: Have a look at your brakes, check the brakes and cables to make sure they aren’t worn down. See if you can reach the brake levers comfortably, then squeeze them for cable tightness and push forwards: if the wheel turns you will need to get your brakes fixed before you go out riding.
  3. “C” = Chain: Always check that the chain is clean and lubricated. A rusty chain drags, changes gear poorly and may even snap. While you’re down there, spin your pedals and check that the cranks don’t wiggle from side to side and that there are no grinding noises from the bottom bracket. Finally, make sure your derailleur – the device that moves the chain between gears – is straight and clears your spokes comfortably.
  4. “Quick”: Check your quick release skewers on your wheels. Make sure they are tight enough to keep your wheels on.
  5. “Check” Take a test ride to check if derailleurs and brakes are working properly. Inspect the bike for broken parts or loose parts; tighten, replace or fix them.

Proper Way to Wear a Helmet

In Northbrook, anyone under the age of 16 is required by Village ordinance to wear a helmet when riding a bike, though cyclists of any age are strongly urged to wear bike helmets as well. Parents are encouraged to educate their children on helmet safety. Learn about how to properly fit a helmet here.

Sharing Sidewalks with Pedestrians and Roadways with Vehicles

If emerging from a driveway or alley, cyclists must yield the right-of-way to motorists and pedestrians. When approaching a pedestrian from behind, slow down and give an audible signal to alert of your presence before passing them.

Walking for Health

You carry your own body weight when you walk. This is known as weight-bearing exercise. Some of the benefits include:

  • increased cardiovascular and pulmonary (heart and lung) fitness
  • reduced risk of heart disease and stroke
  • improved management of conditions such as hypertension (high blood pressure), high cholesterol, joint and muscular pain or stiffness, and diabetes
  • stronger bones and improved balance
  • increased muscle strength and endurance
  • reduced body fat.

Walking for 30 minutes a day

To get the health benefits, try to walk for at least 30 minutes as briskly as you can on most days of the week. ‘Brisk’ means that you can still talk but not sing, and you may be puffing slightly. Moderate activities such as walking pose little health risk but, if you have a medical condition, check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program of physical activity.

Building physical activity into your life

If it’s too difficult to walk for 30 minutes at one time, do regular small bouts (10 minutes) three times per day and gradually build up to longer sessions. However, if your goal is to lose weight, you will need to do physical activity for longer than 30 minutes each day. You can still achieve this by starting with smaller bouts of activity throughout the day and increasing these as your fitness improves