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Mobility and Transport

Overview

Mixed-use zones (or shared spaces) are designed to encourage different modes of transport to co­exist on the same roads and public spaces. This can include cyclists mixing with pedestrians, motorised vehicles, or both.

Considerations for applicability

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Level of cycling

Mixed-use zones are most appropriate where there is an existing high-level of cycling and other road-users are accustomed to sharing space with cyclists. As such, there will be limited impacts from utilising this type of zone however, the benefits include bringing different road-users together in a safe space and often a reduction in the speed of motor vehicles; enhancing safety for all users of the space.

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Urban layout/topography

Providing access to traffic-free areas for cyclists will address concerns related to directness and coherence of the cycle network.

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Population

N/A

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Finance resources

The finances required will depend on the scale of the changes to the infrastructure that are required, although these are likely to be limited and largely comprise of additional signage to clearly delineate the mixed-use zone. It may also be necessary to provide signage or guidance about the correct use of the shared space.

In Bregenz, the city administration invested €350,000 in altering an area to a mixed-use zone, which involved opening the area to motorised traffic in addition to pedestrians and cyclists.

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Time & human resources

As mixed-use zones often utilize existing carriageway or pedestrian spaces, the infrastructure may not require major changes. New signage and road markings can be quick to implement.

A significant amount of the time and human resources required can relate to the planning and management of the mixed-use zone. Planning activities include understanding how much the infrastructure needs to change to accommodate a mixed-use zone (if at all) and whether any planning consent is required; consulting existing road users, and establishing agreed rules for the use of the mixed-use zone. A key activity once the mixed-use has been implemented is communicating and enforcing the correct use of the measure.

Measure impact highlight

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Accessibility

Allowing bicycles to travel in areas where they were previously restricted (e.g. pedestrianised zones) will improve accessibility and reduce cycling journey times. Mixed-use zones do not necessarily afford priority to bicycles over other users of the space, and therefore the impact on accessibility for the cycling community is limited, however wider benefits of mixed-use zones are evident in the case studies presented below.

Note: An overview of the direct and indirect impacts resulting from correctly implemented cycling measures is available in http://ec.europa.eu/transport/node/6167{Challenges that cities face and how cycling can address them as Link}.

In-depth measure analysis, case studies and further guidance

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Key features

Mixed-use zones, also known as shared-use zones, shared zones and meeting zones, are areas that have been designated for use by selected road users. They don't necessarily allow all types of traffic to use the zone and the types of transport modes allowed into the zone may be selectively specified. The mixed-use zone can be newly created during the development of an urban area, or existing space(s) can be redesigned to give access to multiple transport modes. Often, the speed of motorised traffic is reduced in mixed-use zones to enhance safety for all road users.

A mixed-use zone may allow bicycles and other non-motorised wheeled transport (such as push-scooters) to use a pedestrian zone without having to dismount but enforce restricted access for motorised traffic. This type of mixed-use zone may delineate pedestrian areas and cycling areas using signage or paint. Such an approach has been taken in Bregenz, Austria, where bicycles are allowed to travel at walking speed within pedestrian zones. Mixed-use zones can also allow the traffic to free-flow and share the whole space.

In Austria, another type of mixed-use zone was specifically introduced by The Austrian Federal Road Traffic Act. Known as a Begegnungszone (known in English as a 'meeting zone'), this type of mixed-use zone is a speed restricted zone in which pedestrians, cyclists and motorists are afforded equal priority of movement. Pedestrians may use the entire road space on the condition that they do not deliberately hinder other transport modes. Where no pavement is present, there must be a strip at the edge of buildings reserved for pedestrians for safety reasons and motorists must not endanger pedestrians and cyclists. The speed limit is usually relatively low. The Act excluded all motorways, federal and provincial roads from being incorporated into a mixed-use zone and allows municipalities and city administrations to determine which streets can be designated as a mixed-use zone, provided that the start and end of the Begegnungszone are clearly indicated. The Act does specify that a Begegnungszone must consider the needs of all of its road users through stakeholder participation and/or public consultation. This includes the needs of mobility impaired road users. Austrian Research Association for Roads, Railways and Transport gives examples and guidance for this in several of its codes covering the planning, construction and maintenance of roads.

Begegnungszone (or meeting zones) have been implemented effectively in the city of Bregenz, Austria. On Rathausstraße, adjacent to the Kornmarktplatz in the city of Bregenz, a mixed-use zone for pedestrian, motorised and non-motorised wheeled traffic has been applied to improve the fluidity of traffic. The Kornmarktplatz is a completely pedestrianised zone and the mixed-use zone on Rathausstraße forms a staged link between the fully-pedestrianised zone and other roadways in the old town of the city. Further details about the Rathausstraße can be found in the case study below.

The PRESTO Cycling Policy Guide on Cycling Infrastructure highlights that when space is completely shared by different transport modes, the speed of motorised traffic must be adapted to low-speed users to enhance overall safety. The guide also acknowledges that not all transport routes and locations will be suitable as a shared travel space and that zones must be selectively implemented only when appropriate and safe to do so. The PRESTO project guide even suggests that that the default option in built-up areas should be mixed-use zones, with segregation of wheeled traffic only where it is unsafe to mix travel modes.

Function and objectives

The purpose of mixed-use zones is to provide access to a wide range of transport modes whilst ensuring the safety of the most vulnerable road users.

Range of alternatives

http://ec.europa.eu/transport/node/6241{1.6 Contra-flow cycling as Link} lanes can provide cyclists with bi-directional access on one-way streets. Similar to mixed-use zones, this can improve access for cyclists in a space where previously there were restrictions on their mobility.

Complementary measures

Mixed-use zones will have some similarities and may also complement the following cycling measures;

Performance

Mixed-use zones help to improve accessibility for cyclists by allowing them to travel through areas that may previously have been pedestrianised. They will also help to enhance safety for cyclists due to the traffic calming measures and low-speed enforcement due to the mixing of transport modes. In examples found in Austria, tree islands and enhanced lighting have also been used to create a more attractive space.

Multi-use zones are not appropriate in areas where there is a high volume of traffic, e.g. public transport, passenger cars, high pedestrian footfall, or cyclists; in areas utilised by large vehicles; or where there is limited space. As mixed-use zones tend not to afford priority to one particular transport mode, they do not necessarily improve accessibility for cyclists.

The performance of mixed-use zones is not easy to define. A qualitative assessment can study the perception of cyclists by pedestrians in an area that had previously only been accessible to those travelling on foot. As mixed-use zones are a measure that may be more applicable to areas with a high mode share of cycling, it may be difficult to gauge whether it attracts new cyclists. In addition, mixed-use zones are unlikely to cover a large area.

Parameters of success or failure

A mixed-use zone is a fairly unique cycling infrastructure measure as it puts cyclists on an equal footing with other users of the same space and with often only implementation of new signage. The measure can only be implemented in areas that are already suitable (or under construction) such as pedestrian zones, or roadways that have enough space and width to allow different road-users to co-exist in the same space safely. It is necessary to have open communication with residents and stakeholder groups to take their views into consideration when designing and implementing mixed-use zones.

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Overall recommendations

  • Consider giving bicycles access to car-free zones at all times
  • Where appropriate, provision of signage to confirm that cyclists are exempt from traffic bans but also aimed at indicating priority (where appropriate, e.g. cyclists should give way to pedestrians)
  • If pedestrian or cyclist density increases, consider a form of separation between pedestrians and cyclists.
  • At lower pedestrian densities, visual or advisory separation may be considered such as a central cycle lane
  • At higher pedestrian densities level, separation through different grades and colours may be considered, ensuring trip hazards for all users are avoided.
  • Reduce traffic speeds and volumes to an acceptable minimum.

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[collapsed title=Case studies]

Bregenz

  • Location: Bregenz, Austria
  • Population: 29 562 (2017)
  • Cycling Modal Share: 20%

The city of Bregenz has a high level of cycling within the city. As such, measures that improve the comfort of cyclists are positively viewed. From 2013, the city has allowed cyclists to cycle in some pedestrian zones without dismounting from their bikes provided they travel at walking speed. The usual requirements of the Austrian Road Traffic Act are that cyclists should dismount and walk in pedestrian zones. Bregenz has made specifications about cycling speeds, however, the generally accepted rule is to limit cycling speed to 5-10 km per hour. The city has used signage to indicate where cycling is permitted in pedestrianised zones.

The city administration also decided to bring the Begegnungszone (shared zone, or mixed-use zone) into effect in an area that was being redesigned following reconstruction of the Voraarlberg Museum. This area is a part of the Old Town within the central business district. The redesign of this urban area featured a newly pedestrianised zone on the Kornmarktplatz (see image below) with an adjacent mixed-use zone on Rathausstraße, which is equally accessible to public transport, pedestrians, motor vehicles and cyclists. The mixed-use zone is about 200 long, features some parking spaces for cars and allows two-way traffic.

mixed-use_zone_kornmarktstrasse

Mixed-use zone in Kornmarktstrasse, Bregenz

Design features and considerations

In order to allow cyclists to travel in the pedestrianised areas, the city administration did not have any additional considerations other than signage that clearly demarcated the zone.

The Begegnungszone approach had to take into account the surrounding area, consult with different road user groups and ensure that there were open channels of communication throughout the process. In addition, the Begegnungszone was taken into consideration from the very start of the process of designing the areas, with the inclusion of different stakeholders.

Impacts

At the start of the mixed-use zone projects, the city administration anticipated some opposition from different road user groups, however, they found that including residents in the design phase greatly improved support for the measures. Although no quantitative assessment has taken place, the administration believes that there has been a positive increase in the number of cyclists within the areas and that the space is more attractive for all road users.

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

PRESTO Policy Guide / Rupprecht (2012) “Cycling Infrastructure"

presto_policy_guide_cycling_infrastructure
English
(2.46 MB - PDF)
Download

PRESTO / Rupprecht (2012) “Cyclists and Pedestrians"

presto_infrastructure_fact_sheet_on_cyclists_and_pedestrians
English
(210.75 KB - PDF)
Download

Meeting Zones in Austria, an overview of the different Austrian Begegnungszone projects that have been put in place since 2013, available at: http://www.begegnungszonen.or.at/index.php

Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy (2014) Promoting Sustainable Mobility CYCLING – French Expertise

promoting_sustainable_mobility_cycling
English
(6.65 MB - PDF)
Download

Government of Catalonia (2008) Manual For The Design Of Cyclepaths In Catalonia - A description of mixed-use zones (known as shared-use paths) and free-flow of pedestrian and cycling traffic along with a description of the appropriate signage recommended by the Government of Catalonia

manual_for_the_design_of_cyclepaths_in_catalonia
English
(1.58 MB - PDF)
Download

UK Department for Transport (2012) Shared Use Routes for Pedestrians and Cyclists

dft_shared-use-routes-for-pedestrians-and-cyclists
English
(1.55 MB - PDF)
Download

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