Designed for Cycling

Cherry Allan's picture

Cycle-friendly design and planning: Overview

CTC's vision is to see people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities feeling able to cycle safely and confidently for all types of journey. Designing - or re-designing - neighbourhoods, town centres and road networks to cater properly for them is essential...
Cycle lane
Headline Messages: 
  • CTC’s vision is to see a massive step-change in cycle use, so that people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities feel able to cycle safely and confidently for all types of journey.
  • Our neighbourhoods, town centres and road networks should be fundamentally redesigned to be ‘people-friendly’, with cycling not only contributing to a reduction in car dependence, but also benefiting from it. Through-traffic should be channelled onto a limited network of main roads – which should have dedicated cycle provision on or alongside them – while traffic volumes and speeds are kept low on other streets or lanes. Dedicated cycle routes and cycle-friendly access restrictions (e.g. limiting motorised access to town-centres or rat-runs) can encourage people to choose cycling over motorised travel for day-to-day journeys.
  • The cycle network should include the whole road network, supplemented by high-quality cycle routes away from the road network, e.g. through parks and open spaces, or along canals, waterfronts and disused rail corridors. Dedicated cycle provision should be safe and feel safe, showing that society positively values those who choose to cycle, and avoiding any impression that they are a ‘nuisance’ to be ‘kept out of the way of the traffic.’
  • In general, CTC advocates:
    • 20 mph limits for most built-up streets (including villages), and the widespread adoption of 40 mph or lower limits for rural lanes;
    • Some form of dedicated space on busier urban roads, particularly where higher speed limits are retained; and
    • Parallel off-road facilities for dual carriageways and inter-urban roads.
  • However, decisions on appropriate solutions will also need to reflect local factors, such as junctions and junction layouts, and demand for parking or loading.
  • In most places, the main priority for significant capital spending in the years ahead will be to redesign larger junctions to be cycle-friendly, or to open up links for cyclists across (or avoiding) major barriers to safe and convenient cycle travel. Opportunities should also be sought to maximise the funding for cycling improvements through the planning system and road maintenance budgets.
CTC View (formal statement of CTC's policy): 

General principles:

  • An overall aim of transport planning should be to increase cycling as part of a strategy to halt and reverse the growth of motor traffic. This could be achieved through pricing mechanisms (e.g. fuel duty, road user charging, and tax incentives for cycling), the availability or cost of parking, or by regulations and physical road closures to limit motor vehicle access whilst maintaining access for cyclists.
  • The road network and cycle facilities should be designed and maintained to a high standard, free of potholes, debris and obstructions.

Urban streets and rural lanes:

  • 20 mph limits should be the norm for most streets in built-up areas, with exceptions to be identified by local authorities in consultation with local communities.
  • Speed limits of 40 mph or lower should be the norm for rural single carriageways, with 20 mph the norm in villages.
  • On both residential streets and rural lanes, low traffic speeds should preferably be achieved through quality design, to make the street or lane feel like it is primarily for people not motor vehicles. Cruder forms of traffic calming, such as road humps and narrowings, are a less good option, as they can be unpleasant and unsafe for cyclists, and are generally unpopular.
  • On busier urban roads, some form of dedicated space for cyclists should be provided. Alternatively, this may include use of decent width bus lanes or on carriageway cycle lanes, preferably with coloured surfacing. It may also include cycle lanes created from carriageway space involving physical segregation both from motor vehicles and pedestrians, where the relevant highway authority has the will to do this to a high standard. Where there is insufficient space for such provision, the aim must be to reduce traffic volumes and/or speeds, so that cyclists can share the road safely with the other traffic using it.

Dual carriageways, inter-urban main roads and major junctions:

  • On dual carriageways and inter-urban main roads, the form of cycle provision normally preferred should be a physically segregated cycle track parallel to the road, with provision made for cyclists to pass under, over, around or through major junctions.
  • High speed or multi-lane junctions should either have signalised crossing points, ‘early advance’ cyclists’ traffic lights, and/or safe and convenient bypass routes, bridges or underpasses, so that cyclists can get round or through the junction safely and conveniently in all directions.
  • Bridges and tunnels designed to high standards should be provided at appropriate locations to enable cyclists and other non-motorised users to cross major roads where potential links on minor roads or off-road rights of way are currently severed.

Off-road cycle facilities:

  • Traffic-free routes should be provided away from roads, e.g. using parks and open spaces, canal and riversides. These should form direct and convenient connections to the wider road network and to key destinations, and should have good riding surfaces.
  • Traffic-free routes away from roads should add to, not substitute for, the creation of safe, convenient and pleasant cycling conditions on or adjacent to the road network, so that cyclists have easy access to the full range of destinations that other road users can get to.

Other cycling infrastructure:

  • Cycle signing should be provided to help people find suitable routes.
  • Sensibly-designed cycle parking should be provided at key destinations to meet the needs of both short-stay visitors and longer-stay users e.g. at schools, workplaces and rail stations which will generally require more secure, sheltered provision. Levels of cycle parking provision should reflect anticipated increases in demand.

Maintenance and funding sources:

  • Roads and off-road routes used by cyclists should be surfaced and maintained to a high standard. The needs of cyclists should be reflected in highway authorities’ procedures for reporting, inspecting and repairing defects, and in the management of street works, winter maintenance, debris/vegetation clearance and lighting policies.
  • The costings of off-road cycle facilities should include provision for their maintenance.
  • Opportunities should be sought to maximise the funding available for improved cycling provision from new developments and highway maintenance budgets.

Ensuring high and consistent quality:

  • Planners and engineers should be given professional training in the principles of cycle-friendly planning and design.
  • The highway network and alterations to it should be subjected to a cycle audit and review process.
Download full campaigns briefing: 
Publication Date: 
October 2012
Chris Peck's picture

Huge improvement in design of Cycle Superhighway 5

10 July 2014
New designs out for consultation show that the quality of design for cycling infrastructure has shot up. The new route, which parallels one of London's busiest distributor roads, will now be almost entirely protected from traffic, with generous widths and good continuity.
How CS5 could look as it approaches Vauxhall

This is the second consultation on Cycle Superhighway 5 (CS5) - the first design showed little imagination and an unwillingness to remove motor traffic capacity.

The new design is much bolder: the two-way cycle track running along the north side of the bridge is wide and protected by new turning bans, prohibiting crossing motor traffic movements. 

The cycle track will be a minimum of 3m, but mostly up to 4 or even 5 metres in places.

RobbieGillett's picture

What do we mean by Space for Cycling?

How do we create Space for Cycling? A range of solutions is needed, for major and minor roads or junctions, in urban and rural areas alike.

In general though, the answers are covered by the Space for Cycling campaign's six themes:

Cherry Allan's picture

Advanced Stop Lines (ASLs)

Advanced stop lines are an excellent way of giving cyclists visible priority at junctions, where around 70% of cyclists' collisions occur. Good design is crucial, of course.
ASLs help cyclists at junctions
Headline Messages: 
  • Advanced Stop Lines (ASLs, also known as cycle boxes) are some of the cheapest, most cost-effective and popular ways to give cyclists visible priority at junctions, where around 70% of cyclists’ collisions occur. They help cyclists control their own safety as they prepare to manoeuvre through the junction, by positioning themselves where they are clearly visible to the drivers behind them.
  • ASLs should be progressively introduced on all traffic-light junction arms, with possible exceptions for busy high-speed roads with high quality off-road cycle facilities. Decent width ‘feeder lanes’ should enable cyclists to reach the ASLs without being obstructed by queuing traffic.  In some situations, it is beneficial to provide a feeder lane between or to the right of the general traffic lanes, either instead of or in addition to one on the left hand side, or to provide no feeder lane at all. Cyclists should be warned not to use left-hand side feeder lanes to undertake lorries, although we know of no evidence to date that providing these lanes increases the risks of collisions with left-turning motor vehicles.
  • CTC recommends the progressive introduction of coloured surfacing for ASLs and their feeder lanes, focusing particularly on those junctions where cyclists most need to assert their priority to avoid being cut up.
CTC View (formal statement of CTC's policy): 
  • There should be a presumption in favour of providing Advanced Stop Lines (ASLs) on all arms of all signalised junctions.
  • Highway authorities should progressively introduce ASLs at all signalised junctions, making site-specific alterations to the junction layout as required. Exceptions may be made on high speed (40mph or above) where there are existing off-carriageway facilities that meet cyclists’ needs, or where a decision is taken to provide these.
  • The Government should pursue moves to clarify and amend the legislation covering cyclists’ access to and use of ASLs; and make civil enforcement of ASLs possible.
  • Each location needs to be carefully assessed to determine the most appropriate site specific layout, having regard for the line of approach taken by cyclists and their turning movements. The safety benefits of different ASL layouts should be kept under review.
  • ASLs should be provided with at least one feeder lane on any junction arm where the traffic volumes and speeds merit the provision of a cycle lane (or cycle use of a bus lane), in accordance with CTC’s campaigns briefing on on-road cycling (forthcoming).
  • On any junction arm with more than one entry lane, consideration should be given to providing a feeder lane away from the kerb (i.e. either between or to the right of the general traffic lanes).  This may be either in addition to or instead of a feeder lane to the left of the general traffic lanes. The safety benefits of different ASL layouts should be kept under review.
  • Feeder lanes should be at least 1.5m wide, preferably 2m, especially where cycle flows are high. General traffic lanes on junction approaches can be reduced to 2.5m to accommodate this, and 2.25m is acceptable on quieter streets with little or no bus or lorry traffic.
  • CTC recommends the progressive introduction of coloured surfacing for ASLs and their feeder lanes. Priority should be given to locations with multiple general traffic lanes and/or complex conflicting movements between cyclists and motorised traffic.
Download full campaigns briefing: 
Publication Date: 
March 2014
Cherry Allan's picture

Vegetation and hedge trimmings

Cyclists have problems with overhanging vegetation or hedge trimmings left on the routes they use. Debris can cause punctures or even serious injury if it gets caught in wheels...
Mending a puncture
Headline Messages: 
  • Cyclists encounter problems if vegetation along the routes they use is not well trimmed. Overgrown branches can obscure visibility or get in the way, for instance.
  • Cyclists also suffer when debris is left strewn about following careless or incompetent hedge trimming practices. 
  • Debris has the potential to cause punctures or – worse – it may get caught in wheels sometimes with serious, even fatal, consequences.
CTC View (formal statement of CTC's policy): 
  • Those responsible for trimming vegetation should do so regularly and in accordance with best practice
  • Local authorities and the police should actively pursue and, as necessary, prosecute offenders
  • Overhanging vegetation and debris along routes used by cyclists, both on and off-road, should be regularly and attentively cleared.
Download full campaigns briefing: 
Publication Date: 
March 2014

Space for Cycling

Space for Cycling logo
The national Space for Cycling campaign aims to create the conditions where anyone can cycle, anywhere.
Chris Peck's picture

London's Cycle Hire least used and most expensive in Europe

Comparative data from various international bike share schemes show that London's cycle hire scheme is one of the least used and is the most expensive public scheme to operate. The lack of a cycle network in central London is likely to be the main reason why usage is so much lower.
London's scheme is used half as much as Paris's

Whereas each bike in Barcelona's scheme is used over 10 times per day, London's are used just 3 times.

'Boris Bikes' are used less than half as often as the Parisian Velib' scheme.

The study, undertaken by US-based sustainable transport think tank ITDP, explored data from four of the biggest schemes in Europe and a range of north and south American schemes, and made recommendations for how to run an effective bike share scheme.


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Roger Geffen's picture

Boris must stop ducking responsibility for action to save lives

CTC's Campaigns Director Roger Geffen argues that Boris's "finger-pointing" is pointed in the wrong direction, and calls for real solutions to the dangers faced by pedestrians as well as cyclists.
Boris is accused of mis-representing how cyclists die. Photo: Yurri (CC licence)

There has been a truly appalling death-toll on London’s roads in the past 13 days.  Prior to November 5th, there had been 8 cyclist fatalities in 10 months this year.  Since then, we have 6 cyclists’ and 3 pedestrians’ deaths within 13 days, all killed by lorries, coaches or buses.  In total, 9 of the 14 fatalities this year have involved lorries.

Chris Peck's picture

Government predicts cycling will FALL by 2040

While the Get Britain Cycling report calls on Government to aim for 10% of trips by 2025 and 25% of trips by 2050, in the bowels of the Department for Transport, technicians working on the National Transport Model are forecasting that cycling will fall for decades to come.
Cyclists crossing a road

Traffic modelling - the act of forecasting how much additional traffic there will be in future - is a dark art.

Forecasting is tricky: feedback loops and unknown future changes can rapidly upset any firm conclusions about current trajectories.

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