What good looks like

What does an ‘all ages, all abilities’ cycle route look like?

High-quality routes create enough space for people walking, cycling and in motor vehicles (Bristol Cycling)

Best practices

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.

These can be found with their LTP4 Active and Healthy Travel Strategy and also on their Planning Policy Transport Development Control webpage.

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 these pages is not aligned with current best practice and a major update is starting late 2018 to complete in 2019.)

These other guides which are all worth looking at:

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.