Bicycle-friendly policies and practices help some people feel more comfortable about traveling by bicycle with other traffic. The level of bicycle-friendliness of an environment can be influenced by many factors resulting from town planning and cycling infrastructure decisions.
Assuming people prefer to get to their destination quickly, town planning and zoning may have an impact on whether schools, shops, public transport interchanges and other destination are within a reasonable cycling distance of the areas where people live. If urban form influences these issues, then compact and circular settlement patterns as in Elizabeth, NJ may promote cycling. Alternatively, the low-density, non-circular (i.e., linear) settlement patterns characteristic of urban sprawl as in nearby Downtown Newark tends to discourage cycling. In 1990, the Dutch adopted the "ABC" guidelines, specifically limiting developments that are major attractants to locations that are readily accessible by non-car users.
The manner in which the public roads network is designed, built and managed can have a significant effect on the utility and safety of cycling as transport. Settlements that provide a dense roads network consisting of interconnected streets will tend to encourage cycling.
In contrast, other communities may use a cul-de-sac based, housing estate/housing subdivision model where minor roads are disconnected and only feed into a street hierarchy of progressively more "arterial" type roads. Designs that propose to resolve the contradiction between the cul-de-sac and the traditional interconnected network, such as the Fused Grid, have been proposed and built with varying levels of success.
In the UK, the principle of 'filtered permeability' has been proposed in some Government guidance, to maximise the ease of movement of cyclists and pedestrians, whilst constraining it for motor vehicles, see: Permeability (spatial and transport planning).
Aspects of the cycling infrastructure may be viewed as either cyclist-hostile or as cyclist-friendly. In general, roads infrastructure based on prioritising certain routes in an attempt to create a state of constant "flow" for vehicles on that route, will tend to be hostile to those not on that route. In 1996, the British Cyclists Touring Club (CTC) and the Institute for Highways and Transportation jointly produced the document "Cycle-friendly infrastructure: Guidelines for planning and design". This defined a hierarchy of measures for cycling promotion in which the goal is to convert a more or less cyclist-hostile roads infrastructure into one which encourages and facilitates cycling.
- Traffic reduction. Can motor traffic levels, particularly of heavy vehicles, be reduced?
- Traffic calming. Can speed be reduced and driver behaviour modified?
- Junction treatment and traffic management. These measures include:
- Urban traffic control systems designed to recognise cyclists and give them priority.
- Exempt cyclists from banned turns and access restrictions.
- Provide contra-flow cycle lanes on one-way streets.
- Implement on-street parking restrictions.
- Provide advanced stop lines/bypasses for cyclists at traffic signals.
- Junction alterations, signalise roundabouts, cycle-friendly junction design.
- Redistribution of the carriageway -such as by marking wide curb lanes or shared bus/cycle lanes.
- Cycle lanes and cycle tracks. Having considered and implemented all the above, what cycle tracks or cycle lanes are considered necessary?
Removing motor traffic can be achieved by straightforward diversion or alternatively reduction. Diversion involves routing through-traffic away from roads used by high numbers of cyclists and pedestrians. Examples of diversion include the construction of arterial bypasses and ring roads around urban centres.
Traffic reduction can involve direct or indirect methods. A proven indirect method of reducing motor traffic, and facilitating cyclist and pedestrian use, is to adopt the shared space system. This system, by giving equal priority to all road users, and by removing conventional road markings, road signs and road conventions, capitalises on the tendency for all road users to respect and trust each other when they are interacting on an equal basis. No explicit, or even implicit priority is given to traffic travelling along the road, so with no assumptions of priority being possible, all road users need to be aware of all other road users at all times.
New Road in Brighton was remodelled using this philosophy, and the results were a 93% reduction in motor traffic and a 22% increase in cycling traffic. Other indirect methods involve reducing the infrastructural capacity dedicated to moving or storing road vehicles. This can involve reducing the number of road lanes, closing bridges to certain vehicle types and creating vehicle restricted zones or environmental traffic cells. In the 1970s the Dutch city of Delft began restricting private car traffic from crossing the city centre. Similarly, Groningen is divided into four zones that cannot be crossed by private motor-traffic, (private cars must use the ring road instead). Cyclists and other traffic can pass between the zones and cycling accounts for 50%+ of trips in Groningen (which reputedly has the third highest proportion of cycle traffic of any city). The Swedish city of Gothenburg uses a similar system of traffic cells. Starting in the 1970s, the city of Copenhagen, which is noted for high cycling levels, adopted a policy of reducing available car parking capacity by several per cent a year. The city of Amsterdam, where around 40% of all trips are by bicycle, adopted similar parking reduction policies in the 80s and 90s.
Direct traffic reduction methods can involve straightforward bans or more subtle methods like road pricing schemes or road diets. The London congestion charge reportedly resulted in a significant increase in cycle use within the affected area.
- Traffic calming
Speed reduction has traditionally been attempted by statutory speed limits.
Recent implementations of shared space schemes have delivered significant traffic speed reductions. The reductions are sustainable, without the need for speed limits or speed limit enforcement. In Norrköping, mean traffic speeds in 2006 dropped from 21 to 16 km/h (13 to 10 mph) since the implementation of such a scheme.
Even without shared street implementation, creating 30 km/h zones (or 20 mph zone) has been shown to reduce crash rates and increase numbers of cyclists and pedestrians. Other studies have revealed that lower speeds reduce community severance caused by high speed roads. Research has shown that there is more neighborhood interaction and community cohesion when speeds are reduced to 20 mph.
- One-way streets
German research indicates that making one-way streets two-way for cyclists results in a reduction in the total number of collisions. In Belgium, all one-way streets in 50 km/h zones are by default two-way for cyclists. A Danish road directorate states that in town centres it is important to be able to cycle in both directions in all streets, and that in certain circumstances, two-way cycle traffic can be accommodated in an otherwise one-way street.
- Junction design
On large roundabouts of the design typically used in the UK and Ireland, cyclists have an injury accident rate that is 14-16 times that of motorists. Research indicates that excessive sightlines at uncontrolled intersections compound these effects. In the UK, a survey of over 8,000 highly experienced and mainly adult male Cyclists' Touring Club members found that 28% avoided roundabouts on their regular journey if at all possible.
- Traffic signals/Traffic control systems
How traffic signals are designed and implemented directly impacts cyclists.
- Coexistence with other road users
Several methods of altering or reallocation of the carriageway (UK) or roadway (USA) to decrease the potential for social friction during overtaking and passing have been added to many of the manuals used by designers.
Benefits of bicycle-friendly communities
A community’s infrastructure can have an impact on its citizens’ health, especially in regard to obesity and physical activity. Cities that incorporate bicycle routes have a higher percentage of bicycle commuters. Studies have shown that even moderate increases in physical activity can have a substantial impact on health. Bicycling to work has been shown to decrease mortality by as much as 40%.
Bicycling is often used as an alternative to travel by car. Automobile travel provides increased mobility and convenience for travelers, but also has high costs associated with taxes, insurance, fuel, maintenance, road construction and repair, and contributes to air pollution. When infrastructure is built to allow consumers to choose between automobile and other forms of travel, it reduces a community's automobile dependency and allows for more efficient land usage.
Bicycle parking/storage arrangements
Other trip end facilities
Some people need to wear special clothes such as business suits or uniforms in their daily work. In some cases the nature of the cycling infrastructure and the prevailing weather conditions may make it very hard to both cycle and maintain the work clothes in a presentable condition. It is argued that such workers can be encouraged to cycle by providing lockers, changing rooms and shower facilities where they can change before starting work.
In the U.S., the League of American Bicyclists has formally recognized some cities as bicycle-friendly communities for "providing safe accommodation and facilities for bicyclists and encouraging residents to bike for transportation and recreation."
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