Urban Cycling

13 Worst Bike Lanes in the World

Terrible bike lanes around the world

This post may contain affiliate links, which help to keep Discerning Cyclist rolling. Learn more.

The dangerous, the silly, and the downright wacky. We’ve scoured the globe for examples of the worst bike lanes in the world. 

Some of these will make you roll your eyes, and the first two will certainly leave you shaking your head, but our last example shows how good bike lanes can and should be done. 

Here we are, then, thirteen of the world’s worst bike lanes…


1. A Moronic Cycle Lane in Edinburgh, Scotland

Zig Zag Bike Lane
Image credit: www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/Allasan Seòras Buc, Twitter

First up, it’s this ‘moronic’ cycle lane from Edinburgh, Scotland. This one gets our goat – it’s not something you’d expect to deal with when driving a car along the road, so why do cyclists have to put up with this kind of ill-thought-out infrastructure? Heaven only knows. The design is thanks to the route needing to pass bus stops and loading bays, apparently! 

Some super internet sleuthing reveals that Edinburgh City Council saw the error of their ways and submitted plans to alter the route in 2023.


2. Caution! Obstructions Galore in Romania

Tree in bike lane
IMAGE CREDIT: UNKOWN

If it’s not someone getting creative with the spray paint, arguably the second worst type of bike lane is one peppered with obstructions. From street lights to pot plants, concrete bollards to trees, we’ve seen it all, but this bike lane in Romania is perhaps the most famous. 

While canny observers have said that the ‘tree was there first’, that shouldn’t have stopped the bike lane designers from routing around the tree. Hey-ho, painting an arrow on the tree will improve things, right?


3. Building Site Bike Path in London, England

cyclingshepherd/FLICKR
image credit: cyclingshepherd/FLICKR

Cor a lovely, well-surfaced, well-marked cycle way straight into… a building site. Whilst London’s recent increase in cycling infrastructure has been rightly praised, this bike lane isn’t great, is it? Maybe the hoardings to this development located on The River Thames have now been taken down. Here’s hoping.


4. Follow the Arrow? Another from Edinburgh!

Bad Bike Lane
IMAGE CREDIT: Greener Leith/Flickr

Signage, by its very definition, should be helpful, but you have to feel somewhat sorry for the poor soul who was tasked with spraying this bike lane onto the road. This one is from the outskirts of Edinburgh, Scotland. And whilst we’re at it, that picture of the bike shouldn’t be repeated anywhere else – what a shocker!


5. Paint = Bike Lane, in Louisville, Kentucky

Bike lane
image credit: brokensidewalk.com

Okay, okay, any attempt to add some bicycle infrastructure to today’s car-orientated roads should be applauded, but when this is the kind of thing that some people think constitutes a bike lane, we need to say something. 

When riding, cars passing in close proximity (even at low speeds) can be quite off-putting. That’s why simply whacking out a paintbrush and dabbing some white lines on the tarmac shouldn’t be regarded as creating a bicycle lane. The best bicycle lanes are completely segregated from traffic and, depending on the exact design, are comfortable enough for riders to pass each other, sometimes in both directions.

This shocker is from Louisville, Kentucky, and given that it dates back to the early 2010s, we’re hoping it’s long since been changed!


6. Short But Not Sweet in Edinburgh Again!

Bike lane
IMAGE CREDIT: imgur.com

Why don’t cyclists use bicycle lanes? Exhibit A, your honor. This minute bicycle lane is from Edinburgh, Scotland, which has already appeared on our list of the worst bike lanes in the world. We’d challenge even the most militant of cycle lane users to hop off the main road and enjoy the mere five meters of pedaling freedom before being unceremoniously dumped back onto the road.


7. Tight Squeeze in Birmingham, England

TIGHT SQUEEZE BICYCLE LANE
IMAGE CREDIT: Tim Egan: USER @timegan1995 ON X

Still in the UK, but further south now in Birmingham. Narrow cycle lanes usually involve a thin ribbon of paint; this example is no different. While the lane on its own is acceptably wide, this post on X shows just how incredibly narrow the bike lane becomes when a tram comes past – definitely not enough for a rider and bike. We feel back to the drawing board for this one!


8. The Rollercoaster in Körmend, Hungary

Bicycle Lane
image credit: civil engineering discoveries twitter

Over to Hungary and the small town of Körmend now to something that will get all you engineering types twitching. A raised roadway and a bike lane at a slightly lower level left the planners with no option but to add these rather extraordinary larger bumps every five meters or so. Was it to facilitate the drainage of the road? Or even as exit and entry points to other routes? Whatever the reason, it certainly doesn’t make for a great bike lane. 

Yes, riding it on a mountain bike might be fun, but when you want to get from A to B, home to office, this kind of forced fun really isn’t appreciated. We will give the planners points for the lane’s segregations and clear markings.


9. The Scenic Route in North Yorkshire, England

bike lane
image credit: unknown

Going by bike is hard enough, out in all weather, mixing it up with other road users. But when planners make you ride further than you need to, well, that’s just a kick in the teeth. Cyclists in North Yorkshire, England, are the unfortunate recipients of this bike lane.


10. Electric cars, eh?

charging port
image credit: imgur.com

Marketed as the planet’s savior, electric cars can sometimes be the scourge of bike lanes, too! This example from an unknown location shows the hazards of on-street or at-home electric car charging. We’re wincing at the thought of riding along and becoming entangled in that!


11. Wacky Races in Villavcencio, Colombia

drain cover
image credit: imgur.com

Like imitating Mario Kart in real life? Like adding a sense of jeopardy to your daily bike ride? Give this bike lane a go – our first entry from South America, Villavicencio, Colombia, to be exact. That drain cover looks like the perfect width for swallowing bicycle tires.


12. Downright bizarre in Halifax, England

bicycle lane
IMAGE CREDIT: metro.co.uk

Up in the northern part of England now, and this downright bizarre cycle lane in Halifax, West Yorkshire. Although it’s less bike lane and more bike parking, Calderdale Council, the local government department that installed (painted) the lane, said it had been designed to meet national guidelines. One local quipped: “It’s a magical Calderdale forcefield for bikes; you can leave your bike, and it won’t get nicked.”


13. The Signs are Clear in Ascoli, Italy

Bicycle lane
image credit: unknown

The thirteenth and final bike lane on our blacklist is this sign-ridden nightmare from Ascoli in the Marche, central Italy. While we’ll give the designers plenty of points for the bright green, smooth-looking surface – they ruined things as soon as they lifted their white paint out of the van. Okay, we can see what they were trying to achieve, but what’s wrong with a simple T-junction or intersection?


Doing it Properly

And now for something to put your mind at ease. A well-designed cycle lane showing it is entirely possible to create bicycle infrastructure that makes it safer and more pleasant to ride a bike. 

This newly constructed cycle path, well relatively new anyway – it was finished in 2019 –  connects the city center with Birmingham University and Selly Oak. A beautiful ribbon of blue, the bi-directional lane, 4km in length, is completely separated from the busy road traffic plying its way along the A38 into and out of Birmingham. At intersections and junctions, signs and road markings are clear and concise. Well done, Birmingham City Council!

Share the 🚲 Love

Ride in style

Join our weeky newsletter to get early access to our latest discoveries.

Related reads