Shared-use path

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(Redirected from Multi-use trail)
A shared-use path in Budapest, with a typical European shared use sign.
Cyclists are often permitted to use rail trails and bridleways, such as this rail trail in Germany.

A shared-use path, mixed-use path or multi-use pathway[1] is a path which is "designed to accommodate the movement of pedestrians and cyclists".[2] Examples of shared-use paths include sidewalks designated as shared-use, bridleways and rail trails. A shared-use path typically has a surface that is asphalt, concrete or firmly packed crushed aggregate. Shared-use paths differ from cycle tracks and cycle paths in that shared-use paths are designed to include pedestrians even if the primary anticipated users are cyclists.

The path may also permit other users such as inline skating. Contrastingly, motorcycles and mopeds are normally prohibited.[citation needed][where?] Shared-use paths sometimes provide different lanes for users who travel at different speeds to prevent conflicts between user groups on high-use trails.[3] Shared-use paths are criticised for creating conflict between different users. The UK's Department for Transport deprecates this kind of route in denser urban environments.[4]



In the UK, cyclists are legally permitted to cycle on bridleways (paths open to horse riders), but not on public footpaths. Therefore, bridleways are, in effect, a form of shared-use path.[5]

Segregated paths[edit]

A segregated path in Birmingham, England. Note the tactile pavings to delianate the pedestrian and cyclist sections of the path.

On segregated or divided paths, the path is split into a section for pedestrians and a section for cyclists. This may be achieved with a painted line or different surface. It may also be delineated with tactile paving for blind and visually impaired pedestrians.

Research by the UK Department for Transport found that cyclists and pedestrians prefer wider non-segregated paths to more narrow segregated paths (e.g. a 3 m wide shared path, compared with a 3 m path split into 1.5 m sections).[6]


The principal benefit of a shared-use path is saving space. This may be important in environmentally-sensitive areas or on narrow streets, where a full cycle track may not be feasible.[7]


Shared use paths are criticised for creating conflict between pedestrians and cyclists and creating complaints from pedestrians and speed. Therefore, the paths do not properly take into account the different needs of different road users.[8] For example a study by the Institute for Chartered Engineers found that users of shared use paths were confused about the nature of the path and who has priority on them.[2]

Pedestrians are sometimes unsure how to behave on shared-use paths. The question arises whether the path is to be treated as a road (therefore pedestrians should face oncoming traffic) or a path (and therefore pedestrians may walk wherever they choose).[2]

Shared-use paths alongside the highway often look like sidewalks to motorists. Therefore, at side roads, in jurisdictions where pedestrians do not have priority at side roads, the priority situation at side roads on shared-use paths can be confusing and often cyclists are required to give way to turning motorists.[6]

By country[edit]

United Kingdom[edit]

Part of the Milton Keynes redway system runs along the disused track bed of the former Wolverton to Newport Pagnell Line, now a rail trail

Before the January 2022 revision, the Highway Code gave no advice to pedestrians on how to share space with cyclists;[9] there was is also little guidance given to cyclists.[2] (The 2023 edition covers both aspects.[10]The UK Department for Transport advises local authorities that cyclists and pedestrians should not be expected to share space on or alongside city streets.[4]

The Milton Keynes redway system is an example of a city-wide network of shared-use paths. The network consists of over 200 miles (320 km) of shared-use paths that avoid the city's busy and fast grid roads (which run between neighbourhoods rather than through them).[11]

United States[edit]

In the US, the 1999 AASHTO Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities defines a shared-use path as being physically separated from motor vehicular traffic with an open space or barrier.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Multi-Use Pathways" (PDF). NCDOT. Retrieved 20 June 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d Delaney, Hannah; Parkhurst, Graham; Melia, Steve (2017-09-01). "Walking and cycling on shared-use paths: the user perspective". Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers - Municipal Engineer. 170 (3): 175–184. doi:10.1680/jmuen.16.00033. ISSN 0965-0903.
  3. ^ "Part II of II: Best Practices Design Guide - Sidewalk2 - Publications - Bicycle and Pedestrian Program - Environment". Federal Highway Administration. 2017. Retrieved 25 March 2019.
  4. ^ a b Cycle Infrastructure Design (Local Transport Note 1/20) (PDF) (Report). Government of the United Kingdom. July 2020. p. 9. Retrieved 25 January 2023. Cycles must be treated as vehicles and not as pedestrians. On urban streets, cyclists must be physically separated from pedestrians and should not share space with pedestrians. Where cycle routes cross pavements, a physically segregated track should always be provided. At crossings and junctions, cyclists should not share the space used by pedestrians but should be provided with a separate parallel route
  5. ^ "Shared use routes - Ramblers". Retrieved 2022-10-12.
  6. ^ a b "New guidance on shared use routes | Cycling UK". Retrieved 2022-10-12.
  7. ^ "Sustrans Shared Use Paths". Retrieved 2022-10-12.
  8. ^ "A view from the cycle path". Retrieved 2022-10-12.
  9. ^ "The Highway Code UPDATES". Department for Transport, Government of the United Kingdom. 29 January 2022. Retrieved 25 January 2023.
  10. ^ The Highway Code. Department for Transport, Government of the United Kingdom. 27 July 2022. §13, §62, 63. Retrieved 25 January 2023.
  11. ^ "Redways". MK Council. Retrieved 23 May 2018.
  12. ^ "A Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities (Fourth Edition)" (PDF). National Association of City Transportation Officials. 2012. Retrieved 25 March 2019.