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Mobility and Transport

Overview

A cycle street (or boulevard) is a main cycle route that is open to motorised traffic but prioritises the needs of cyclists over other road users by providing cyclists with a high level of service.

Considerations for applicability

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Level of cycling

Implementation of cycle streets is most suited to routes where high volumes of people cycling exist or are anticipated.

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Urban layout/topography

Implementation of cycle streets is most suited to main cycle routes, such as commuter or student travel corridors.

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Population

N/A

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Finance resources

The initial capital required to implement cycle streets will vary depending on the extent of the infrastructure required, including length of road, materials used and changes required. It is likely that costs will relate primarily to signage and other features that ensure cycle priority. Finance will be required for ongoing maintenance.

It has been estimated that cycle streets could cost between €120k and £230k per km for basic provision, but up to £500k per km if more expensive materials are specified (Sustrans, 2014)

Oss Cycle Street in the Netherlands is about 2.5km long and cost €2 million to implement.

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Time & human resources

The time and human resources required to implement cycle streets will vary depending on the extent of the infrastructure required. An important consideration is the time required for the planning stages, including engaging with local stakeholders.

 

Measure impact highlight

Public transport, bus and cyclist

Modal share

Cycle streets may contribute to an increase in the modal share of cycling when implemented as part of a cycling network or strategy within a city. Malmö's (Sweden) cycle street saw an increase in the number of cyclists, as well as improved travel time, comfort, and road safety conditions for cyclists. An evaluation of a cycle street in Oss (Netherlands) in 2004 found that cycling increased by 11% while motorised traffic reduced by 30% (Sustrans, 2014).

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

Cycle streets (also known as 'boulevards') are a form of mixed-traffic street where the needs of cyclists are prioritised over motor vehicles. Bicycles should be the dominant mode, whilst the number of motor vehicles should be minimised and so cycle streets are most likely to be implemented on through or main cycle routes where motorised traffic requires access to local destinations.

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Cycle street, Malmo

On cycle streets, design and signage should clearly assign priority to cyclists and the route should be attractive to cyclists due to its comfort and directness. Bicycles should also have right-of-way at intersections in order to improve comfort and speed. Cyclists can be allocated space through central lanes or a wide advisory strip either side of the road.

The Belgium cyclist’s union indicates that a cycle street should not be over 500m in length, although Belgium regulations do not allow motor vehicles to overtake on cycle streets. Longer cycle streets can be designed so that cyclists are not being followed by cars for long stretches, which can cause stress for both road users. For example, sections of filtered permeability can be implemented, or contraflow sections can force cars to turn off but allow cyclists to continue ahead.

As there are no agreed criteria on the implementation of cycling streets at the EU level, Member States have different standards, some of which have legal status whereas others do not. Therefore, cities considering the implementation of cycle streets should ensure they are able to implement cycle streets as desired, whilst adhering to national regulations, standards or traffic rules.

Function and objectives

The objective of cycle streets is to provide a safe and attractive route for people who cycle that clearly assigns priority to cyclists. They also aim to attract both experienced and less confident cyclists (through their cycle-friendly design).

Alternatives

The Malmö case study example demonstrates that even where specific national regulatory provisions are not available to implement cycle streets, other cycle actions and measures can be adapted to achieve similar conditions and results. For example, measures that give priority to bicycles on roads and at junctions.

Complementary measures

Cycling streets are likely to incorporate a number of measures such as http://ec.europa.eu/transport/node/6225{4.1 Bicycle prioritisation through traffic management and ITS as Link}, http://ec.europa.eu/transport/node/6206{Mixed-use Zones as Link} or http://ec.europa.eu/transport/node/6241{Contra-flow cycling as Link} in order to achieve priority, directness and comfort for cyclists.

Performance

Cycle streets improve conditions for cycling by providing a safe and attractive environment. They are likely to benefit residents and pedestrians through reduced traffic speeds and attractive design, and an improved street environment may positively impact local businesses.

An increase in the modal share of cycling may be achieved when a cycle street is implemented as part of a cycling network/strategy within a city. Malmö's cycle street observed increased numbers of people who cycle, as well as improved travel time, comfort, and road safety conditions for people cycling. Elsewhere, an evaluation of a cycle street in Oss (Netherlands) in 2004 found that cycling increased by 11% whereas motorised traffic reduced by 30% (Sustrans, 2014). Cycle streets are therefore likely to have positive impacts on safety, community, accessibility and modal share.

Parameters of success or failure

Similar to other measures that place restrictions on motorised traffic, cycle streets have the potential to attract criticism from the public or other stakeholders. Concerns were expressed in Malmö regarding the removal of car parking spaces and restrictions on traffic flow. Therefore, engaging with the public during the planning and design stages of cycle streets is important to raise awareness and minimise negative opinions and the chance of complaints. Firm political support despite initial concerns can be a crucial factor in ensuring the successful implementation of the measure.

Cycle streets tend to be most successful where there are high numbers of existing or anticipated cyclists and when bicycles are the dominant mode. Sustrans suggest that there should be at least as many cyclists as motorists (Sustrans, 2014), although a 2:1 ratio of bicycles to cars is desirable. Dutch guidance suggests that cycle streets can be considered where there are at least 1,000 cyclists per day, while national guidelines suggest maximum motorised traffic of between 1,000 and 3,000 vehicles per day. Even if a 2:1 ratio was maintained, it is likely that the comfort, safety and overall attractiveness of the routes would reduce at higher traffic volumes.

Finally, cycle streets can be more successful when there is adequate space for all road users to minimise potential conflicts [see Malmö case study).

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[collapsed title=Infrastructure quality design guidance – Cycle streets]

Overall recommendations

  • Cycle streets should be designed to provide a visual indication that bicycles have priority and motor vehicles are ‘guests’.
  • Right-of-way for bicycles should be implemented at smaller/quieter intersections, whereas separation is recommended for larger/busier intersections.
  • Speed limits for motorised traffic should be low - 30 km/h is recommended.
  • The surface material used should consider the comfort of the people who cycle, e.g. closed surface paving/asphalt.
  • Nuisance from other vehicles should be minimised, including parked cars. Parked cars should be in parking lanes or bays, away from the carriageway.
  • Where cycles are mixed with traffic, the entire carriageway should be coloured to resemble a cycle track.
  • On longer cycle streets, design should force motor vehicles to turn off the street so that motor vehicles do not follow behind cyclists for too long, causing stress to both users.

City practitioners should consult national cycle infrastructure design standards or regulations (where available) regarding the appropriate implementation of cycle streets in respective Member States (including road widths, cycle lane widths, traffic speeds etc.).

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[collapsed title=Case studies]

[collapsed title=Heesch-Oss Bicycle Street (Oss, Netherlands)]

In 2003 a bicycle street in Oss was constructed, connecting the village of Heesch in the south to the centre of Oss. The street begins as a two-lane cycle street, but changes to a single lane further north. The cycle street provides convenient access to popular destinations such as the cinema, a cultural centre, the hospital, a large secondary school, the rail stations and a sports stadium. Therefore, large volumes of cyclists will be using the street.

The majority of the route passes through residential areas with low building density, and so only low volume local motor traffic is expected. A parking ban has also been implemented to prevent vehicles from blocking the cycle street. A special logo embodying the interests of cyclists has been designed to make indicate that motorists must make way for cyclists on this route. Whilst cyclists have priority, motorists are allowed to overtake cyclists.

Since implementing the bicycle street, there has been an 11% increase in bicycle use on street and a 30% reduction in motorised traffic. The project ultimately cost around €2 million, of which €1.2 million was subsidised by the province.

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[collapsed title=Streets adapted to cycling (Malmö, Sweden)]

  • Location: North/North West
  • Population: Medium urban area (333,633)
  • Cycling Modal Share: Champion (22%)

The key objective of this measure was to create and improve the road network to favour cycling by granting increased access to people who cycle whilst restricting access for motorised traffic.

As Sweden does not have any legal or regulatory setting for cycle streets, Malmö had to identify alternative solutions for dedicating streets to cycling and walking within the given legal framework in order to improve the road network in favour of cyclists. Malmö achieved this by creating motor vehicle dead-ends that restrict motorised traffic and dedicates the streets to cycling and walking. The motorised traffic is not permitted to use the roads and must find alternative routes. Space can then be used by bicycles and pedestrians as part of the road network. Streets that connect with the adapted streets are also being adjusted through stop signs and rights of way, contributing to the development of the cycling network in Malmö. These actions make use of functions of the national Road Act enabling the measure to be implemented in the absence of legislation on cycling streets. The options available within the conventional traffic regulations to implement the concept of a cycle street include:

  • Right of way for cycling;
  • Cycle traffic;
  • Stop signs on connecting streets with motorised traffic - giving priority to bicycles;
  • Using dead ends for motorised traffic, but allowing people who are cycling or walking to continue ahead;
  • Implementing barriers to support the applied rules, e.g. bollards restricting vehicle entry, but not bicycles.
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Cycle street, Malmo

Streets adapted to cycling are a low-cost infrastructure measure as few costs are incurred relating to infrastructure construction. Typical costs that are incurred relate to signage and the provision of barriers. Time and manpower required for the implementation of this measure was not extensive but will depend on the pre-existing traffic situation.

Although there have been no formal quantitative evaluations of the cycling priority streets, some impacts have been observed, including improved travel time and increased road safety conditions for cyclists. Impacts on modal share have not been identified, but traffic count data shows that cycling within the streets has increased.

Traffic safety has not been measured, but it is assumed that safety has increased through the reduction of motorised traffic from the area. Permeability of the route is important as it increases the route directness for cyclists. Therefore, the measure improves cycling conditions and the attractiveness of cycling. Public opinion has not been evaluated directly, but it is considered that the public view is positive following implementation.

The measure can be seen as both a push and a pull measure - as the restrictions on motorised traffic make the route more attractive to people who cycle and their connectivity is increased.

Key parameters of success

An important success factor in the process of introducing cycling streets is whether they are supported in the regulatory framework. Since this option does not currently exist in Sweden, streets adapted to cycling make use of the available legal and regulatory instruments to create similar situations. A key factor to its success in Malmö is that it has relied on the experiences of dedicating road space to bicycles elsewhere.

Transferability

The measure is deemed to be easily transferable to other cities. This example from Malmö demonstrates how cities can create road conditions that benefit people who cycle. Only limited aspects of the measure need to be regulated during the implementing, including closing the road to motorised traffic through reducing connectivity but granting access to bicycles.

Barriers and challenges

One of the main considerations was the impact of introducing restrictions on motor vehicle traffic in some areas of the road network. However, disruption to motorised traffic was minimal as traffic was redistributed across the remaining road network that remained permeable.

If there is a high volume of cyclists using the streets, a challenge that may arise is conflict between cyclists and other road users. In Malmö, conflicts between cyclists and pedestrians have been minimal and can be dealt with through appropriate space allocation and access regulations.

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

PRESTO / Rupprecht (2012) “Cycle Streets"

presto_infrastructure_fact_sheet_on_cycle_streets
English
(126.99 KB - PDF)
Download

CROW Design Manual for Bicycle Traffic, available at: https://www.crow.nl/publicaties/design-manual-for-bicycle-traffic-(1)

Copenhagen’s guidelines for the design of road cycling projects - Focus on Cycling, Chapter 2 "Sections"

copenhagen_focus_on_cyling
English
(17.53 MB - PDF)
Download

The Cycling Embassy of Denmark’s Collection of Cycle Concepts, Chapter 8 and 9 on planning and designing the cycling infrastructure

cycling_embassy_of_denmark_collection_of_cycling_concepts
English
(14.46 MB - PDF)
Download

CROW (2017) Design manual for bicycle traffic. Chapter 5

Ministerie van Veerkeer en Waterstaat (2007) Cycling in the Netherlands

cycling_in_the_netherlands
English
(4.02 MB - PDF)
Download

Slovenian Traffic Safety Agency (2014) Best Practice Examples of Safe Cycling in Europe

best_practice_examples_of_safe_cycling_in_europe
English
(7.51 MB - PDF)
Download

Sustans (2014) Cycle Streets: technical Information Note No. 32

sustrans_technical_note_32_-_cycle_streets
English
(372.72 KB - PDF)
Download

Sustrans (2015) Sustrans Design Manual Chapter 4: Streets and Roads

sustrans_design_manual_chapter_4_streets_and_roads
English
(5.22 MB - PDF)
Download

German Institute of Urban Affairs (2010), Cycling Expertise: Active Mobility in Residential Areas

difu_cycling_expertise_active_mobility_in_residential_areas
English
(1005.53 KB - PDF)
Download

Walker, L., Tresidder, M., Bik, M (2009) Fundamentals of bicycle boulevard planning and design (USA)

bicycle_boulevard_guidebook
English
(4.94 MB - PDF)
Download

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