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Cycle Infrastructure Design (DfT 2008)

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The Department for Transport (DfT) published 'Cycle Infrastructure Design' (CID) in 2008 to guide professionals on providing for cyclists on the highway network. The following is CTC's take on it, highlighting the most enlightened aspects of the guidance, but also areas where it could do better.
Cycle Infrastructure Design
Cycle Infrastructure Design

3) CID and off-road provision

a) What’s welcome

  • On or off-road? Along with the Hierarchy of Provision, which asks practitioners to consider converted pavements as a last resort, CID advises more explicitly on when and when not to opt for it. It explains the need to consider factors such as motor traffic and pedestrian volume, speed, side junctions, on-street parking and HGV traffic etc. (Table 1.1, p9).
  • Consultation: It’s good to see CID say that ‘it is important to consult with cyclists and pedestrian groups’ when designing off-road facilities (8.1.2, p41).
  • Design speed: CID recognises that ‘Cyclists tend not to favour cycle routes that frequently require them to adjust their speed or stop’ and that ‘routes with design speeds significantly below 20 mph are unlikely to be attractive to regular commuter cyclists and it may be necessary to ensure that there is an alternative on-carriageway route for this user category’. (8.2, p41).
  • Width for off-road facilities: CID says ‘Wherever it is possible, widths larger than the minimum should be used. Practitioners should not regard minimum widths as design targets’ (8.5.1, p42).
  • Obstacles: CID explains that obstacles such as sign poles, lighting columns, pillar boxes, kiosks etc may need moving when footpaths/ways are converted – this is often overlooked! (8.11.1, p47).
  • Surfaces: CID says: ‘...minor surface defects and debris that would be of little consequence for motorised traffic can be uncomfortable to cyclists and may present a hazard.' (8.8.2, p44).
  • Cycle & car lamps: CID asks designers to be aware of the dazzling that cyclists may suffer at night when using two-way cycle tracks alongside unlit carriageways; and drivers’ confusion when they see cycle lights approaching on their nearside – which can have serious consequences. (8.12.2, p47).
  • High quality: CID says: ‘Pedestrians and cyclists will use high-quality, well-maintained, traffic free routes away from the carriageway if they are more direct than the equivalent on-road alternative and there are no personal security issues’. (1.3.9, p12). Opening up paths through parks or along towpaths etc. to cyclists, often provide such opportunities.

b) What’s missing

Road geometry as a factor in the on- or off-road decision-making process: the table (1.3, p13), that links traffic flow and motor vehicle speed to the most appropriate option (i.e. no facility, cycle lane, or cycle track) should also refer to road geometry/available width as crucial factors too.

c) What’s weak

  • Cycle track priority over crossings:
  • CID is less firm than CFI2 on the need to give primary cycle tracks priority over minor side roads.
  • However, CID does stress the problems and risks, particularly to young children, of frequently having to cross side roads whilst using an off-road (road-side) cycle track (10.3.2, p65).
  • CID also advises variously (10.3-4. p62-66) on a range of treatments including: flat-topped road humps; ‘bent-out’ crossings; or taking cyclists back onto the carriageway for the duration (CTC’s preferred option where traffic volume and speed allow because it avoids loss of priority altogether).
  • CID also quotes research that suggests that if satisfactory crossings of minor roads can’t be provided, a cycle track may not be a ‘sensible’ creation after all (10.3.4, p65).
  • Surfacing: CID cautions against unbound surfaces, but should say that bound surfaces are best for all cycle tracks, urban and rural.
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