Pedestrians and bicycle users need a fine mesh grid of routes. Disconnected sections of paths or lanes cannot be described as a network — routes have to be coherent and comprehensive.

Continuity does mean just one design type
While routes need to be continuous, this does not necessarily mean using just one design. For example, in the Netherlands, a cycle route may include various elements, such as cycle paths, service streets, bicycle streets or contra-flow cycle lanes.

Surface quality should at least meet the standard of parallel roadway, not just at construction stage but on an on-going basis.

High-quality routes are nothing without good maintenance — maintenance, including access for maintenance equipment, must be considered at the design stage of projects and included in on-going operational budgets.

The chosen surface for a footpath or cycle path tarmac etc surfacing should be continuous and not interrupted by kerbs or small sections of different surfaces concrete.

Road street crossings must not be staggered in urban areas — this is already contained in the Manual for Urban Roads and Streets as a strong recommendation, but councils are failing to see the importance of it. Action must be taken to address this.

Inclines and ramps
Inclines should not exceed 5%. When the vertical climb is very short, a higher grade can be used, but when the total vertical slope is more than 4 meters, a maximum of 4% should be used. Where horizontal sections are used, these should be at least 25m horizontal.

Where there are inclines/ramps near junctions regardless of priority and or other locations where people cycling are expected to stop or yield, a level stopping zone should be provided.

Design speed
While high-sounding design speeds are off-putting to some and seem unnecessary to others, design speeds on segregated routes must be realistic to allow for safe use given different conditions in weather and terrain, as well as the use of electric bicycles and faster cycling.

The Netherlands has design speeds of 30km/h which is “recommended for normal situations” in urban areas, 40km/h outside urban areas, and, elsewhere in Dutch guidance, 20km/h is mentioned for “basic routes”, although this is under the range given of normal average cycling speeds (15-23km/h). Cycling-friendly UK guidance issued in 2016 (Interim Advice Note 195/16 Cycle Traffic and the Strategic Road Network), also has  30km/h as the norm, outlines 40km/h for on down gradients of 3% or greater, and it states 20km/h is an absolute minimum design speed “only to be used over distances up to 100 metres if combined with the use of ‘SLOW’ markings, although this is not permitted on downhill gradients of 3% or greater.” (note: this applies to the Strategic Road Network only).

Having design speeds does not mean that the higher speeds would implemented universally and localised speed reduction measures (such as raised pedestrian crossing used at bus stops in London) would still be perfectly acceptable.

Ignoring international experts would be dangerous in a number of regards, including that unrealistic design speeds causes an increased likelihood of conflict between cycling and other modes, an increased risk of cyclists falling off their bicycles, and an increased risk that people cycling will use the main carriageway rather than a cycle path (in the context of a high number of cycling deaths on higher-speed suburban and rural roads).

Published by Cian Ginty

Cian is a freelance journalist and editor of - continuously writing about poor cycling routes for years has led to, in the campaigning journalism tradition and the hope that things can be changed.

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