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’.
Transport for London commissioned an excellent International Cycling Infrastructure Best Practice Study which it makes available with an Appendix and other TfL cycling publications.
Oxfordshire Cycling Design 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 April 2017, after reviewing other guides and consulting with the Oxfordshire Cycling Network and other cycling and walking groups, Oxfordshire County Council adopted an up-to-date set of Cycling Design Standards and Walking Design Standards.
We support these standards as they set a good minimum level for cycling and walking infrastructure if the standards are thoughtfully applied. Developers and Planning Authorities should pay heed to these standards and we will support the County Council in applying and enforcing them.
However, it is important to note that it is still possible to design poor infrastructure that meets the guidance, and that in some cases even higher standards are more appropriate.
(Note: The Residential Road Design Guide on this page is not aligned with current best practice and a major update is planned.)
These other guides which are all 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.