To proceed further on with the "cycling topic", which of these terms are most commonly found on US roads to designate respectively a path or part of a road in an urban area marked off or separated for the use of bicyclists --- and a path or road in suburban or rural surroundings marked off for the use of bicyclists, but which also can be used occasionally for strolling, jogging, and other outdoorsy activities?

My impression is that "bike route" and "bike lane" are used almost exclusively to refer to a path, street or lane alongside a roadway, whereas the terms "bike track" and "bike trail" sound a lot more appropriate for a peripheral or rural bikeway.

As regards the expressions "bikeway" and "bike path", I think these can be used just about interchangeably for a bicycle path in both urban and rural surroundings.





  • 2
    Where I'm from we say "bike trail" for the outdoorsy path and "bike lane" for the designated part of a road. Mar 23, 2014 at 3:24

2 Answers 2


There are probably formal, official definitions in some government document somewhere. But in my experience (United States), conventional usage is:

bike lane: A portion of a roadway that is primarily used by motor vehicles that has been set aside for bicycles.

bike path: A paved area for bicycles, not part of a "regular" motor-vehicle road

bike trail: An unpaved area for bicycles

I don't think I've ever heard "bikeway", "bike route", or "bike track". Though "bike track" sounds to me like a place for racing bicycles, as "a track" is term for a place where cars race.

  • I agree with everything you've said here, with one caveat: thanks to the Rails-to-Trails conservancy movement, bike trail is often used for paved bike paths, particularly when the area was once a railroad track. This, for example, is just about as likely to be called a "bike trail" as it is a "bike path."
    – J.R.
    Mar 24, 2014 at 1:03

In the US that would be bike lane and in the UK it's called cycle lane. In Ireland cycle tracks and cycle lanes are the same.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.