Transport for London (TfL) has commissioned a study into global best practice for infrastructure, to best understand how to progress safe cycling in the capital.
Taking lessons from cities including Utrecht, Berlin, Stockholm and Cambridge, the study looked at what works best in cities where mass cycling is well-established, and what factors were successfully being applied by cities lower down the curve.
Phil Jones Associates and Urban Movement visited each city for a couple of days, taking part in cycle itineraries of around 40-50km. The authors noted that: “the many and varied differences between cities, and indeed between individual streets in the same city, mean that the best design solution in any location will arise from the context-appropriate application of sound principles and good standards; not from the cut-and-pasting of rigid design templates.”
The report did however make a number of recommendations for the type of conditions needed to create a world class cycle city.
They were as follows:
1. There is strong, clear political and technical
pro-cycling leadership which is supported
through all parts of the lead organisation.
2. Cycling is considered an entirely legitimate,
desirable, everyday, ‘grown up’ mode of
transport, worthy of investment, even if current
cycling levels are comparatively low.
3. Increasing cycle mode share is part of an
integrated approach to decreasing car mode
share. There is no intended overall abstraction
from walking and public transport; and improving
cycle safety and convenience is not intended to
diminish pedestrian safety and convenience.
4. Loss of traffic capacity or parking to
create better cycling facilities, while often a
considerable challenge, is not a veto on such
5. There is dedicated, fit-for-purpose space for
cycling, generally free of intrusion by heavy and
fast motor vehicle traffic. In cities where the
aim is to grow cycling rapidly, simple, cheap
and effective means of securing this space have
been used as first steps, with more permanent
solutions following in due course.
6. There is clarity about the overall cycling
network (including planned future development),
with connectedness, continuity, directness and
legibility all being key attributes.
7. There is no differential cycle route branding,
simply three principal types of cycle facility
that make up well-planned and designed cycle
a. Paths/tracks/lanes on busier streets which
provide a degree of separation from motor
vehicles that is appropriate to motor traffic
flows/speeds and the demand for cycling.
b. Quiet streets/’bicycle streets’ with
30kph/20mph or lower speed limits and
often restrictions on motor vehicle access,
particularly for through movements.
c. Cycleways/‘greenways’ away from the main
highway (e.g. bicycle-only streets, paths in
parks and along old railway lines and canals),
but still well connected to the rest of the
network at frequent intervals.
8. There is clear, widely-accepted and
routinely-used guidance on the design of cycling
9. The frequency of occasions when cyclists need
to give way or stop is minimised. This means that
people cycling are able to make steady progress
at a comfortable speed.
10. At least subjectively, where the cycle mode
share is greater, the driving culture (and indeed
city culture generally) is more respectful of the
needs of cyclists. Local traffic laws often play a
part in this.
11. Making better provision for cycling, even
in the most well-cycled cities, is an ongoing
challenge; with growth in cycling, and of city
populations as a whole, requiring clear forward
The Mayor of London has set a target to increase cycling by 400% from 2001 levels by 2026.
The Mayor’s Vision for Cycling document, launched in March 2013, states that: “There will be more Dutch-style, fully-segregated lanes and junctions; more mandatory cycle lanes, semi-segregated from general traffic; and a
network of direct back-street Quietways, with segregation and junction improvements over the hard parts.”
“Where it is not possible to segregate without substantially interfering with buses, we will install semi-segregation: shared bus and bike lanes, better separated from the rest of the traffic with means such as French-style ridges, cats’ eyes, rumble strips or traffic wands in the road.”
John Dales of Urban Movement told BikeBiz: “Some cities, such as New York and Seville have shown that it is possible to grow cycling levels significantly over just a few years by employing pragmatic, relatively inexpensive, and sometimes intentionally interim measures of securing space for cycling.
"Spatial separation and protection from motor traffic is seen as one of the most crucial and quickest methods for increasing cycle use; while there is also clear recognition that the value of good infrastructure is undermined if provision gives up when the going gets tough.”
After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.