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Mobility and Transport

Basic quality design principles for cycle infrastructure and networks

Basic quality design principles for cycle infrastructure and networks

This section focuses on basic quality design principles and recommendations for cycling infrastructure and networks. By the end of 2021, the Commission will issue dedicated guidelines for vulnerable road users (RISM Directive).

Design guidance and standards for cycling infrastructure have been developed in many Member States and are regularly used by local administrations (see http://ec.europa.eu/transport/node/6258{Existing cycle infrastructure quality design guidance (and standards) as Link}). However, there are other cities and Member States that are without this type of resource. This guidance therefore presents basic design principles and recommendations for cycling infrastructure that can be used by these cities and Member States. It is intended that these principles and recommendations should complement rather than replace any existing guidance and/or standards.

There are a number of basic design principles that should be adhered to when designing and implementing cycle infrastructure.

Safety, Directness, Coherence, Attractiveness, and Comfort

These requirements should be considered as objectives by all city types. They can also be used as criteria to assess the quality of cycling infrastructure. Where infrastructure meets these criteria, they are more likely to result in increased use of bicycles. The principles were first identified by the Dutch design manual, CROW (2007). They have since been updated and/or incorporated in many other cycling infrastructure design standards and guidance publications. The following sections outline the recommended basic quality design principles in more detail.

[collapsed title=Safety]

Safety is a basic requirement for any cycling infrastructure, although safety concerns are a major barrier to cycling. Cyclists often feel vulnerable when moving in the same space as motorised traffic due to differences in speed, the vehicle size and the volume of traffic. There can also be a lack of understanding by people driving motor vehicles of the needs of cyclists. Therefore, cBasic quality design principles aim to increase actual and perceived safety, and include:

  • Limit conflict between cyclists and other cyclists, pedestrians or motorists:
    • Ensure low-stress mixing
    • Separate main routes for bicycles from pedestrian routes
  • Reduce motor vehicle traffic volumes and speeds around cyclists, especially when road users mix
  • Separate bicycles from fast/heavy motorised traffic to reduce the number of dangerous encounters – including separation on routes and/or at intersections
  • Ensure conflict points at intersections and crossings are clearly presented so that users are aware of the risks and can adapt behaviour appropriately. Visibility of cyclists to motorists should be maximised at the approach to intersections
  • Ensure cycling facilities are well lit
  • Ensure cycling infrastructure is well maintained (see ‘attractiveness’)

[/collapsed]

[collapsed title=Directness]

Direct cycle routes that reduce travel times and distances will increase the competitiveness of the bicycle compared with motorised transport. Basic quality design principles for directness include:

  • Ensure bicycle users have access to the most direct route
  • Minimise overall travel time by considering factors such as detours, number of stops at crossings, traffic lights, and gradients
  • Maintain constant speed of cyclists
  • Provide priority for people who cycle, over motorised traffic

[/collapsed]

[collapsed title=Coherence and Accessibility]

Routes should be coherent and accessible, enable people who cycle to easily travel between their origin and destination. The CROW manual recommends that, in urban areas, people should not have to travel more than about 250 metres to reach the bicycle network. Cycle routes should also include connections with the public transport network. Basic quality design principles for coherence and accessibility include:

  • Provide a continuous and recognisable network linking trip origins and destinations
  • Ensure routes are well-signed throughout
  • Ensure routes for cyclists are direct (see ‘Directness’)
  • Provide consistent protection for bicycle users throughout (see ‘Safety’)
  • Ensure intermodality with other networks/modes of transport
  • Provide well-located and secure cycle parking

[/collapsed]

[collapsed title=Attractiveness]

People will be encouraged to cycle if they feel safe and if the infrastructure and route is aesthetically attractive. Basic quality design principles for attractiveness include:

  • Ensure that infrastructure and route is aesthetically attractive and interesting to potential users
  • Ensure that infrastructure is integrated within, and complements local surroundings
  • Consider the actual and perceived personal security of users (see also ‘Safety’)
  • Ensure infrastructure is well-maintained

[/collapsed]

[collapsed title=Comfort]

The cycling experience should be enjoyable, smooth and relaxed to maximise the comfort of people cycling. Basic quality design principles for comfort include:

  • Ensure the cycling surface is smooth and well-maintained (drained and free of debris)
  • Reduce discomfort through appropriate selection of materials to avoid vibrations, shocks and obstacles
  • Minimise the need for interruptions in a cycling journey (see ‘coherence’)
  • Minimise the need for complicated manoeuvres (see ‘safety’ and ‘coherence’)
  • Ensure adequate width
  • Avoid steep gradients
  • Minimise impacts of noise, spray and headlight dazzle from other traffic

[/collapsed]

Conflicts between principles

It is important to acknowledge potential conflicts between the requirements. As the safety of people cycling is the main concern, this will often be prioritised ahead of other design principles. For example, the directness or coherence of a cycle route may be reduced in order to avoid a busy road or intersection. Priorities will also vary depending on whether a route is considered to be utility or recreational, but safety is always the top priority, for example:

  • Priority ranking for utility cycle network/route: safety, directness, cohesion, comfort, attractiveness
  • Priority ranking for recreational cycle network/route: safety, attractiveness, cohesion, comfort, directness

It is also important to note that cycle infrastructure differs from infrastructure for pedestrians (or other modes). However, in many countries with low cycle intensity designers tend to treat cyclists as another type of pedestrian, resulting in poor cycling infrastructure quality.

Measure specific guidance

Overall recommendations for infrastructure quality design guidance are provided for the following cycle infrastructure measures:

Where recommendations differ for each type of city (e.g. starter, climber, champion), these have been outlined within the measure factsheets guidance. Detailed technical specifications for the quality design of cycle infrastructure have not been provided at the EU level. Therefore, cities are advised to consult existing design guidance and standards that have been developed within EU Member States.

Files

[collapsed title=Key guidance, further reading and references]

PRESTO (2010) PRESTO - Cycling Policy Guide Infrastructure (see Section 2.2.3)

presto_policy_guide_cycling_infrastructure
English
(2.46 MB - PDF)
Download

CIVITAS (2016) Smart Choices for Cities: Cycling in the City (see Page 14)

smart_choices_for_the_city_cycling_in_the_city
English
(2.19 MB - PDF)
Download

CIVITAS MIMOSA (2013) Enabling Cycling Cities: Ingredients for success

mimosa_enabling_cycling_cities
English
(8.62 MB - PDF)
Download

CM Bike (2014) Developing a cycling network and general design standards for bicycle infrastructure

cmb_fact_sheet_h-01_cycling_network
English
(981.68 KB - PDF)
Download

Cambridge Cycling Campaign (2014) Making space for cycling, Cyclenation

cycle_nation_making_space_for_cycling
English
(2.98 MB - PDF)
Download

Gallagher, R and Parkin, J (2014) Planning for cycling, Chartered Institute of Highways and Transportation, UK

ciht_planning_for_cycling
English
(11.65 MB - PDF)
Download

[/collapsed]

[collapsed title=Key guidance, further reading and references]

PRESTO (2010) PRESTO - Cycling Policy Guide Infrastructure (see Section 2.2.3)

presto_policy_guide_cycling_infrastructure
English
(2.46 MB - PDF)
Download

CIVITAS (2016) Smart Choices for Cities: Cycling in the City (see Page 14)

smart_choices_for_the_city_cycling_in_the_city
English
(2.19 MB - PDF)
Download

CIVITAS MIMOSA (2013) Enabling Cycling Cities: Ingredients for success

mimosa_enabling_cycling_cities
English
(8.62 MB - PDF)
Download

CM Bike (2014) Developing a cycling network and general design standards for bicycle infrastructure

cmb_fact_sheet_h-01_cycling_network
English
(981.68 KB - PDF)
Download

Cambridge Cycling Campaign (2014) Making space for cycling, Cyclenation

cycle_nation_making_space_for_cycling
English
(2.98 MB - PDF)
Download

Gallagher, R and Parkin, J (2014) Planning for cycling, Chartered Institute of Highways and Transportation, UK

ciht_planning_for_cycling
English
(11.65 MB - PDF)
Download

[/collapsed]