What does an ‘all ages, all abilities’ cycle route look like?
The Dutch were the first to discover the five secrets of success. Cycle routes need to be:
- Coherent – Routes go where people want to go, and are continuous.
- Direct – Routes do not add distance or stops into the journey.
- Safe – Users are safe, particularly from traffic on busy or fast roads.
- Comfortable – Users find the route comfortable both physically (e.g. surface quality) and mentally (e.g. not feeling in conflict with other users)
- Attractive – Routes should be attractive to users and enhance the environment for everyone.
These have proved so effective, and the Dutch so keen to spread the word and to earn money from their expertise, that they have translated these approaches into an English version of the Netherlands Design manual for bicycle traffic, often known as the ‘CROW standards’.
In the UK or England, unfortunately no national set of standards has been adopted. But, many public authorities and cycling groups have adopted these five factors and used them as a basis for their own guidance. In particular, it is worth looking at:
- Cycling UK: Space for Cycling, A Guide for Decision-makers. As a simple introduction (8 pages).
- Cyclenation: Making Space for Cycling. An good blend of overview and enough detail to really understand what works, with many illustrations. Developed with the Cambridge Cycling Campaign (36 pages).
- TfL: London Cycling Design Standards. The first section is an excellent introduction and the comprehensive set of standards and guidance has enabled a doubling of cycling over 10 years (web page with links to LCDS).
- Welsh Assembly Active Travel Guidance. In Wales, Local Authorities are now required to assess their infrastructure for walking and cycling, and to develop plans to improve it. This document includes detailed design guidance for both (420 pages, 11MB)
- Highways England: Cycle traffic and the strategic road network. While labelled for HE’s major roads, this sets out well-considered standards for most types of route and is the closest thing to a national standard (68 pages).
Even with such standards, the devil can be in the details. It is valuable to review the detailed designs with cyclists and experts as very small differences in junction design or sign placement for example can make a significant difference to the desirability of cycling.