Cycling Infrastructure: International Best Practice

Cycling Infrastructure: International Best Practice

Transport for London have released a report, International Cycling Infrastructure Best Practice Study, the outcome of a Transport for London commissioned study which focused on the design approaches in cities with high levels of cycling and/or recent significant growth in cycling numbers.

While the report has a London focus it also informative for other cities including I would argue the Perth.

The report is based on cycling visits to fourteen international cities to study cycling infrastructure. The cities visited where:

Brighton & Hove
Malmo + Lund
New York
Washington DC

The full report, International Cycling Infrastructure Best Practice Study can be download from my Dropbox however below is a few key points that I have extracted from the report if you do not want to read the full  108 page report or you want a taste of the report..

Cycling Infrastructure – Common Conditions Found in Mature Cycling Cities

The following is a quick summary from the report on the common conditions found that have led to best practice cycling infrastructure in the view of the reports authors.

  • There is strong, clear political and technical pro-cycling leadership which is supported through all parts of the lead organisation
  • Cycling is considered an entirely legitimate, desirable, everyday, ‘grown up’ mode of transport, worthy of investment, even if current cycling levels are comparatively low.
  • Increasing cycle mode share is part of an integrated approach to decreasing car mode share.
  • Loss of traffic capacity or parking to create better cycling facilities, while often a considerable challenge, is not a veto on such action.
  • There is dedicated, fit-for-purpose space for cycling, generally free of intrusion by heavy and fast motor vehicle traffic.
  • There is clarity about the overall cycling network (including planned future development), with connectedness, continuity, directness and legibility all being key attributes.
  • There is no differential cycle route branding, simply three principal types of cycle facility that make up well-planned and designed cycle networks: (a) Paths/tracks/lanes on busier streets with some degree of separation; (b) Quiet streets/bicycle streets with 30 km/h speed limits; (c) Cycleways/greenways
  • There is clear, widely accepted and routinely used guidance on the design of cycling infrastructure
  • The frequency of occasions when cyclists need to give way or stop is minimised.
  • 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.
  • 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

Cycling Infrastructure – Best Practice

The report authors made the following points as their key findings on best practice cycling infrastructure.

Livability – Good conditions for cycling, and resulting high levels of cycling, are only found where the city’s political and technical leaders consider that increasing the mode share of this form of transport is beneficial for the city in economic, social and environmental terms; and part of an overall approach to enhancing city livability.

Leadership – This leadership is critical because creating good conditions for cycling may mean taking highway space now used for moving or parked motor vehicles; and this often draws local public opposition even in cities with very high levels of cycle ownership and use.

Governance – Systems of governance relating to transport vary between cities. Those with comparable systems to London (i.e. with a strong strategic authority able to lead by example on its own highways, and to appropriately influence the boroughs through that leadership) seem to have the best structure for improving conditions for cycling.

Long term commitment – Cities with the largest cycling levels and most cycling-friendly street use cultures have achieved that status as a result of policy and associated action over the long-term, with an incremental approach to improving provision.

Incremental change – Some cities 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’ means of securing space for cycling.

Infrastructure principles – In terms of infrastructure, there are some very clear and sound principles underlying the design of measures in the best cycling cities.

Protection + Separation – The cities with the highest cycling levels, and those that have successfully grown cycling levels over relatively short periods, generally afford cycling good physical protection or effective spatial separation from motor traffic, unless traffic speeds and volumes are low.

Similarities + differences – While there is, therefore, generally quite a strong ‘common language’ of cycling infrastructure provision across successful cycling cities, there
are differences in ‘accent’ that can be quite important.

Avoiding jargon – Care needs to be taken in the use of certain terms, as confusion or over-generalisation can arise.

Avoiding compromised designs – Cities that are serious about growing cycling do not use measures that are obvious compromises; such as cycle lanes that are too narrow to be fit for purpose, run only part-time, and/or end abruptly or with a hazardous merge.

Legal + regulatory scope for change – In almost every study city, the legal framework, and associated signal control methods, generally provide for greater flexibility in terms of designing for cycling than is the case in the UK at the current time.

Streetscene impact – Cycling infrastructure can successfully be designed as an integrated part of the streetscape – although there are also unsuccessful examples of this.

Pedestrian-cyclist interaction – In intensely cycled cities, the interaction of cycle traffic with pedestrians can sometimes seem disorderly to UK eyes. However, no evidence was found of specific safety problems arising from such interaction; and people seem generally to have learned to negotiate harmoniously with one another at close quarters.

Driving cultures – In study cities with more mature cycling cultures, drivers were found to be notably more respectful of cycling and observant of the rules of the road than in London.

Cycle parking – Making adequate provision for cycle parking is a high priority in all well-cycled cities.

If you wish to read more, the full report, International Cycling Infrastructure Best Practice Study can be download from my Dropbox.

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