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7 Design Guidelines for Cycling Infrastructure and Encouraging Cyclists

Cycle signage standardTransport for London has published design guidelines for standardising the design of signposting, parking facilities, cycle lane and much more, for consultation. With the potential to be widely copied, they present the opportunity for cyclists to be familiar with the same designs wherever they go.

It's the first time they have been updated since 2005. The 358-page consultation document promotes an integrated approach to delivering high quality infrastructure across the capital, with chapters on:

  1. Procedures for cycle-friendly street design;
  2. links and intersections;
  3. cycle lanes and tracks and other facilities; 
  4. junctions and crossings;
  5. signs and markings; and
  6. construction including surfacing; and
  7. cycle parking.

Cycling signage

Transport for London says its policy is that the number and the quality of cycle parking spaces available must not only keep pace with the growing use of cycles in the capital, but also needs to anticipate the substantial future growth set out in London Mayor Boris Johnson's Vision for Cycling, published last year.

The guidance focuses on the quality of cycle parking and the process for planning and implementing it. It states that cycle parking should be:

  • fit-for-purpose with the right balance of short-stay and longer-stay provision;
  • well-located – convenient, accessible and as close as possible to the destination;
  • secure and visible – stands that allow for secure locking in places that are well lit and with high levels of natural surveillance.
The choice of the right standards and procedures for designing traffic and environmental schemes will improve safety, increase accessibility and encourage cycling. This is one of the specific purposes of the London Cycling Action Plan. With this in mind, the consultation document's aim is to help design teams to:
  • understand the needs of cyclists;
  • design facilities that will assist cyclists, promote safe positioning and
  • encourage assertive, considerate and predictable behaviour;
  • meet network management responsibilities;
  • determine cycling requirements and traffic priorities;
  • communicate with project partners and manage expectations;
  • identify and manage risk;
  • integrate cycling into the overall transport system; and
  • deliver schemes that will support targeted increases in cycling.

The designs are intended to reinforce and complement the Highway Code, as well as advice on safe positioning and cycling in traffic endorsed by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA) and leading cyclist training organisations.

cycle parking on pedestrianized street

The designs have to cope with many types of link to enable cylcists to have uninterrupted journeys across the busy capital, which include public highways, parks, paths alongside waterways, railway land, industrial, retail and housing estates and their car parks, town centres and other parts of the public realm used for traffic or access. Over some short links cycling is not permitted but bicycles may be wheeled or parked. Only motorways and other links with explicit safety-related prohibitions on cycling are excluded from the cycling network. Links therefore include:

  • London Cycle Network routes;
  • London Cycle Guide (LCG) routes are those included on this series of 19 detailed maps, 4 million copies of which have been printed for free distribution to Londoners;
  • Green Cycle Corridor Investment Programme Routes for use by non-motorised traffic – predominantly off the public highway and running through parks and similar areas, and where a programme of investment is underway;
  • Courier routes, with a high priority given to the removal of significant hazards to cyclists, and maintaining priority for cyclists through junctions;
  • Pedestrianised areas, where presumption is that cycling be permitted unless there are overwhelming safety reasons to justify its exclusion;
  • Significant cycle commuter routes;
  • Other local streets, estates;
  • Industrial estates.

Four different types of cyclists

road marking cycle lane design

The designs cater for the fact that cyclists can have a wide variety of levels of experience, confidence and attitude and ride cycles of varying designs and dimensions. A well-designed cycle facility will be attractive to a wide spectrum of cycle users.

But it is not practical to design for all experience levels in all situations. For example, it would be unrealistic to design for unaccompanied young children in central London. Conversely, a Green Cycle Corridor providing access to a school should be assumed to be likely to be used by a proportion of relatively inexperienced cyclists. Designers must exercise common sense in these matters.

The designs come with an appendix that includes Typical Detail Drawings, but these should only be used as guidance.

The document underscores the benefits of encouraging cycling: cycling is the most energy efficient mode of transport generally available, and is an order of magnitude more efficient than motorised travel, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution; it has considerable health benefits; and is an inclusive form of transport.

The energy consumption of cycling versus cars

The deadline to respond to the consultation is 25 July, with the definitive standards due to be published by the end of the year.