Designed for Cycling

Chris Peck's picture

Are we getting to the bottom of the pothole problem?

10 April 2012
Why are our roads are in such a bad state? A report on potholes by the Government has been published today.
A pothole recently formed on an old road work site

For the last few months CTC has been on the project board of a Department for Transport review into why potholes are created and what local authorities should be doing to prevent them from occurring. 

This review concluded with three headline recommendations:

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Vehicle restricted areas (VRAs)

A town or city centre that restricts motor vehicles helps create an attractive environment for walking and cycling. Visitors, shoppers and residents usually feel the benefits too. Exempting cyclists is unlikely to cause problems because they tend to ride slowly or dismount when it gets crowded.
Headline Messages: 
  • Completely car-free zones, or areas where motor vehicles are restricted at certain times of the day (shopping streets, for example) are now common in many town and city centres. There are aesthetic, environmental, safety and commercial benefits for doing this, and it also helps make cycling and walking more attractive. 
  • Research commissioned by the Department for Transport found no real reasons for excluding cyclists from pedestrian areas; in fact, it showed that cyclists tend to take the initiative and slow down or dismount when it's busy (actually, it's difficult to keep balanced on a cycle anyway when reduced to a crawling pace).
  • However, as with all shared-use areas, there are concerns that people with mobility, sight or hearing problems could be put at risk if cyclists are allowed into pedestrianised areas. These issues can be overcome through good design and suitable signposting - and usually the problems are more perceived than real.

Cyclists respond to pedestrian density, modifying their speed, dismounting and taking other avoiding action where necessary."

Cycling in Pedestrian Areas (Traffic Advisory Leaflet 9/93), Department for Transport

CTC View (formal statement of CTC's policy): 

We are currently revising and updating our views on infrastructure and these will be published in due course. In the meantime, these are extracts from CTC's current Policy Handbook.

  • Cycling should be permitted in pedestrian areas wherever possible. If pedestrian flows during peak shopping hours make this impracticable, cycling should be permitted in pedestrian areas from midnight to 10 am and 4 pm to midnight to allow usage by cycle commuters.
  • Where pedestrian areas interrupt cycle routes, safe and convenient alternative routes should be incorporated into the cycle route network maintaining the directness of the cycle route as a priority and ensuring cyclists can use the alternative safely.
Publication Date: 
April 2012
Cherry Allan's picture

Home Zones

Children play, or want to play, in streets; and people work and live in them too. Creating Home Zones is a good way to reclaim roads as community space, rather than just a means of getting from A to B in a motor vehicle.
Chester Home Zone
Headline Messages: 
  • While roads have a transport function, it is important to remember that they also intersect local communities. In other words, they are places where people live and work and where children play too. Home zones help communities reclaim their streets from motor traffic and stop them from becoming rat-runs.
  • This is done mainly by reducing the dominance and speed of cars and other vehicles by a variety of features (e.g. speed limits, traditional traffic calming, or planters, seats, trees etc). Typically, these streets do not carry large volumes of traffic, are short in length and the changes are supported by the local community.
  • Although home zones can promote road safety, the main benefit is that people start looking at streets differently. It becomes clear that the space is not exclusively for vehicle use, but can cater for a much wider range of community activities - playing, chatting, gardening etc.
  • The  Government's planning policy for England (National Planning Policy Framework, March 2012), says that developments should (amongst other things) be located and designed to "create safe and secure layouts which minimise conflicts between traffic and cyclists or pedestrians, avoiding street clutter and where appropriate establishing home zones".
CTC View (formal statement of CTC's policy): 

We are currently revising and updating our views on infrastructure and these will be published in due course. In the meantime, these are extracts from CTC's current Policy Handbook.

  • Local authorities should use their powers under the terms of section 268 of the Transport Act 2000, or section 74 of the Transport (Scotland) Act 2001, to designate home zones where the community requests it.
  • When designing home zones, authorities and planners must consider the needs of cyclists, avoiding where possible design which creates pinch points or chicanes (see also our page on traffic calming).
Publication Date: 
April 2012
Cherry Allan's picture

Traffic calming

The speed of motor traffic not only aggravates local communities, but also puts people off cycling. There are a number of measures that encourage and enforce slower driving, including physical traffic calming (e.g. speed humps).
Headline Messages: 
  • The aim of traffic calming is to slow down the average speed of motor vehicles. In doing so, it reduces the speed differential between them and other road users and helps make road conditions safer and more attractive for cycling.
  • Traffic calming measures include physical alterations to the horizontal and vertical alignment of the road, e.g. speed humps and road narrowings such as chicanes.
  • If done badly, though, traffic calming can push cyclists and motorists riskily together through pinch points (e.g. at built-out sections of kerb), or force cyclists to veer or struggle (e.g. round or over a speed hump that’s been put in an awkward place or doesn’t have enough clearance from the kerb). Good traffic calming should help people follow the guidance given by national standards cycle training, not do the opposite - riding in the gutter, for example.
  • Traffic calming can be used as part of a package of other speed reducing measures, including 20 mph limits. Nowadays, however, local authorities have been given much more flexibility over introducing these limits without paying for costly physical infrastructure to enforce them.
CTC View (formal statement of CTC's policy): 

We are currently revising and updating our views on traffic calming and these will be published in due course. In the meantime, these are extracts from CTC's current Policy Handbook (March 2004).

  • Traffic calming can benefit cyclists by reducing the speed of traffic, provided it is of a cycle-friendly design. Vertical deflection can be very effective at slowing traffic but the ramps must have long, smooth profiles, approximating to a sinusoidal shape.
  • Wherever possible the introduction of pinch points that squeeze cyclists, e.g.: by providing central refuges, should be avoided. At 30 mph the minimum width beside a refuge that allows safe overtaking without intimidation is 4.5m. Only below 20 mph should narrower widths be considered.
  • Pinch points should not be introduced without consultation with local cyclists. Where such a measure is unavoidable, the Transport Research Laboratory has identified optimum widths for pinch points.
  • A very effective way to calm traffic in a benign manner is to have reduced priority at all junctions, such as the use of all-way give-ways in other countries.
  • There is a range of subtle but effective 'natural' or 'traditional' methods of traffic calming which can also be employed, such as are implemented in Home Zone schemes.
Publication Date: 
April 2012
Cherry Allan's picture

Junctions and crossings

As 75% of cyclists' collisions happen at or near junctions, it's essential to do everything possible to make them safe for cycling.
Headline Messages: 

Three-quarters of cyclists' collisions happen at or near junctions, so providing cycle lanes or paths that stop short of one (or at it), doesn't help tackle one of the most serious hazards that cyclists face on the road network.

Apart from training people how to negotiate junctions safely and confidently, there are several things that road engineers can do to make these locations more cycle-friendly in the first place.

Signalled junctions, for instance, are usually better than roundabouts, while well planned, designed and implemented Advanced Stop Lines (ASLs), special cycle phases and detectors can be particularly helpful.

If there’s no avoiding a roundabout, it can be improved for cyclists by narrowing the circulatory carriageway, minimising the number of entry and exit lanes, and slowing drivers down by making the entry and exit angles tighter.

Shared-use pedestrian and cycle crossings

Cyclists tend to prefer direct routes – and safe ones, of course. Consequently, they often want to cross a road, but not necessarily at a road traffic junction (although once they’ve used the crossing, they may need to rejoin the carriageway).

Toucans (light controlled crossings shared with pedestrians) usually provide a very workable arrangement; and for very busy roads, high quality subways or bridges are not only often welcome to cyclists, but can also help connect communities severed by an otherwise impassable road. 

Cycle path crossings of side roads

Cycle paths alongside the carriageway are often intersected by side roads or driveways. Cyclists are rarely given priority over them and these locations can put them at risk. There are engineering measures that can help make drivers more aware of cyclists at these points (e.g.raised tables over the crossing).

 

CTC View (formal statement of CTC's policy): 

We are currently revising and updating our views on infrastructure and these will be published in due course. In the meantime, these are extracts from CTC's current Policy Handbook.

  • Features such as advanced stop lines (ASLs), priority approaches and special cycle phases should be incorporated at junctions.
  • Signalled junctions are often preferable to roundabouts. However mini-roundabouts may be used as a speed control measure in traffic calming schemes and this may benefit cyclists.
  • Increasing the entry deflection, narrowing the circulatory carriageway and providing circulatory lane markings can improve safety on roundabouts.
  • Loop-detectors controlling traffic signals should be tuned to detect cyclists.
  • All new schemes should be audited for cycle friendliness and as much of the existing transport network should be reviewed likewise.
  • Subways and overbridges should be of high quality with good sightlines, sensible gradients, lighting and sufficient width. Converted footways are generally disliked by pedestrians and cyclists and should be avoided by transport planners. Low cost schemes to convert existing subways into shared use facilities are rarely satisfactory. Overbridges should be cycle friendly and not have steps.
  • Toucan crossings are shared light controlled crossings. They allow cyclists and pedestrians to cross roads in safety, and are a good example of workable and cost effective facilities.
Publication Date: 
April 2012
Cherry Allan's picture

Cycle Infrastructure Design (DfT 2008)

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

We hope the following helps steer you through Cycle Infrastructure Design (CID), highlighting its most useful and welcome guidance, but also alerting you to some areas that are less than perfect. This briefing is by no means exhaustive, however - it is not intended to be a substitute for reading the guidance itself!

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York cycle campaigners attempt to save key cycle route

CTC cycle campaigners from York do battle to retain the road layout at Water End junction, which includes an advisory cycle lane. Some local residents have claimed since it was introduce it has caused increased traffic congestion. Local campaigners are fighting for it to stay on safety grounds.
Water End Junction

The City of York built the suburban orbital cycle route as part of its three year Whitehall-funded Cycling Demonstration City programme.

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Cherry Allan's picture

The 'Hierarchy of Provision'

What is the best way to provide for cyclists on the highway network? Sharing space with motor traffic? Or segregated as much as possible from it? And what about all the options between these extremes?
Cycle road marking

Many people who don’t cycle say they’re held back by their fear of traffic, and reckon they’d cycle if there were more cycle paths away from the roads.  Local demands for 'traffic-free' routes can be quite persuasive for councils, but when they install segregated tracks they often meet with opposition from cyclists who would prefer to cycle on the road rather than lose priority at every side-road on a poorly designed segregated cycle track - particularly if they are fast, confident commuters.

Chris Peck's picture

20mph pilot in Bristol finds slower speeds and enthusiastic residents

15 March 2012
A trial of two 20mph speed limit areas in Bristol has resulted in lower speeds, more reported walking and cycling and residents even more enthusiastic about lower speeds than they were at the start of the trial. Injuries, bus journey times and air quality have remained constant.
Cycling has increased even on 20 mph main roads

The two areas in the trial covered around 500 streets from the south and east of Bristol. The project aimed to test whether the success achieved in Portsmouth could be replicated on Bristol streets.

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Chris Peck's picture

Signs of the times - relaxed rules for 'no entry except cycles'

13 October 2011
After years of lobbying for simple changes to traffic sign regulations, CTC is pleased that the Government has finally agreed to a relaxation of certain rules, such as permitting an ‘except cycles’ plate to be used in conjunction with a ‘no entry’ sign.
No entry except cycles

The changes - set out in Government document 'Signing the Way' - should make streets safer and road engineering cheaper. The move comes as part of the outcome of the Traffic Signs Review announced by Norman Baker MP.

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