Class II and Class III routes, how important are they?

New Reader Pete Van Nuys has a couple of interesting questions:

How important are Class 2 routes to the promotion of bike commuting? Is the stripe twice as important as just the Class 3 sign?

OK, so let’s start by defining the difference of a Class 2 and Class 3 route:

Bike Lane in Tampa
Class II Bike Lane – A lane set aside in city streets exclusively for bikes.

Picture courtesy of

Class III Bike Route – Purportedly safe city streets connected into a means of getting from one place to another on a bike.

My 2 cents: I like Class II bike routes, I do feel a little safer riding a bike lane because it sort of gives me my own little space on the road. Now, Class III bike routes… Those I could careless for and in fact, I would love to have some of those route signs taken down . There’s an avenue (Slauson Ave, East of the 605) that you wouldn’t pay me to ride it to work. It is a 3 lane road with vehicles traveling at 50 mph with a sliver of room for a car and a cyclist. And yes, it is designated as a ‘safe street’ to ride.

Would a bike lane promote bike commuting? I would think so. Is the stripe twice as important as a class III sign? If a route is actually safe to ride, I don’t think so. What’s your opinion?