Edge lane roads (ELRs) are a class of roadway which includes Advisory Bike Lanes and Advisory Shoulders. ELRs support two-way motor vehicle traffic within a single center lane and vulnerable road users (VRUs) such as bicyclists, wheelchair users, or pedestrians in the edge lanes on either side. Motorists may use the edge lanes, after yielding to any VRUs there, to pass approaching vehicles. ELRs are called Advisory Shoulders in the 2016 FHWA Small Town and Rural Multimodal Networks guide which was the first federal guidance to describe them. They are also called out in the 2019 FHWA Bikeway Selection Guide where they are known as Advisory Bike Lanes.
This type of roadway is really a shared street rather than lanes which are added to support non-motorists. As a shared street, it has the potential to offer more freedom of travel for all VRUs including the less abled. Rural roads with no or limited shoulders and ditches on either side of pavement that is only wide enough for only two vehicular travel lanes are a good example of locations where this treatment can provide benefits. Urban locations can also benefit; in fact most of the current American installations are in urban areas. It could even provide a solution to the endemic problem of rear end collisions with horse drawn wagons in Amish and Mennonite communities. More information is available at www.advisorybikelanes.com.
ELRs have the potential to add space for VRUs on the more than 2 million miles of paved local and collector roads in the US. But this treatment faces obstacles. It is new and relatively unknown by most practitioners. It faces opposition from some who know little about the treatment. Use of ELRs for people with vision problems is clouded by lack of guidance with respect to detectable warning surfaces.
I would like to see an effort to make this treatment better known, research some of the questions around its use, and address the lack of guidance around ADA for ELRs.