Cycling infrastructure comprises all infrastructure which may be used by cyclists. This includes the same network of roads and streets used by motorists, except those roads from which cyclists have been banned (e.g., many freeways/motorways), plus additional bikeways that are not available to motor vehicles, such as bike paths, segregated cycle facilities and, where permitted, sidewalks, plus amenities like bike racks for parking and specialized traffic signs and signals.
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. The cycling network may be able to provide the users with direct, convenient routes minimizing unnecessary delay and effort in reaching their destinations. Settlements with a dense roads network of interconnected streets tend to be viable utility cycling environments.
Aspects of infrastructure may be viewed as either cyclist-hostile or as cyclist-friendly. In general, roads infrastructure based on prioritizing certain routes in an attempt to create a state of constant "traffic 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" (CFI). 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 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 recognize 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, signalize roundabouts, cycle-friendly junction design.
- Redistribution of the carriageway -such as by marking wide kerb 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 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 highly effective 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, capitalizes 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 traveling 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 remodeled 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 now 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.
Some campaigners view one-way street systems as a product of traffic management that focuses on trying to keep motorized vehicles moving regardless of the social and other impacts. On the other hand, some UK traffic planners state that one-way streets are a useful tool for traffic calming, and for eliminating rat runs. CFI states that one-way streets can seriously disadvantage cyclists on the grounds that they introduce additional trip-length, delay and hazards associated with weaving maneuvers at junctions. CFI refers to other research indicating that in almost every case it is possible to exempt cyclists from one-way restrictions. In northern Europe, cyclists are frequently granted exemptions from one-way street restrictions. German research indicates that making one-way streets two-way for cyclists results in a reduction in the total number of collisions. It is also argued[who?] that contraflow cyclists may be at reduced risk of certain types of accident - particularly so called "dooring" type incidents. In Belgium road authorities can in principle allow any one-way streets in 50 kilometres per hour (31 mph) zones to be two-way for cyclists if the available lane is at least 3 metres (9.8 ft) wide (area free from parking) and no specific local circumstances prevent it. Denmark, a country with high cycling levels, does not use one-way systems to improve traffic flow. Some commentators argue that the initial goal should be to dismantle large one-way street systems as a traffic calming/traffic reduction measure, followed by the provision of two-way cyclist access on any one-way streets that remain.
In general, junction designs that favour higher-speed turning, weaving and merging movements by motorists tend to be hostile for cyclists. CFI states that free-flowing arrangements are hazardous for cyclists and should be avoided. Features such as large entry curvature, slip-roads and high flow roundabouts are associated with increased risk of car–cyclist collisions. 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 sight lines 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. Cycling advocates argue for modifications and alternative junction types that resolve these issues such as reducing kerb radii on street corners, eliminating slip roads and replacing large roundabouts with signalized intersections.
Traffic signals/Traffic control systems
How traffic signals are designed and implemented directly impacts cyclists. For instance, poorly adjusted vehicle detector systems, used to trigger signal changes, may not correctly detect cyclists. This can leave cyclists in the position of having to "run" red lights if no motorized vehicle arrives to trigger a signal change. Some cities use urban adaptive traffic control systems (UTC's), which use linked traffic signals to manage traffic in response to changes in demand. There is an argument that using a UTC system merely to provide for increased capacity for motor traffic will simply drive growth in such traffic. However, there are more direct negative impacts. For instance, where signals are arranged to provide motor traffic with so called green waves, this can create "red waves" for other road users such as cyclists and public transport services. Traffic managers in Copenhagen have now turned this approach on its head and are linking cyclist-specific traffic signals on a major arterial bike lane to provide green waves for rush hour cycle-traffic. However, this would still not resolve the problem of red-waves for slow (old and young) and fast(above average fitness) cyclists. Cycling-specific measures that can be applied at traffic signals include the use of advanced stop lines and/or bypasses. In some cases cyclists might be given a free-turn or a signal bypass if turning into a road on the nearside.
Redistribution of the carriageway
One method for reducing potential friction between cyclists and motorized vehicles is to provide "wide kerb", or "nearside", lanes (UK terminology) or "wide outside through lane", (U.S. terminology). These extra wide lanes increase the probability that motorists pass cyclists at a safe distance without having to change lanes. This is held to be particularly important on routes with a high proportion of wide vehicles such as buses or heavy goods vehicles (HGVs). They also provide more room for cyclists to filter past queues of cars in congested conditions.
Shared space schemes extend this principle further by removing the reliance on lane markings altogether, and also removing road signs and signals, allowing all road users to use any part of the road, and giving all road users equal priority and equal responsibility for each other's safety. Experiences where these schemes are in use show that road users, particularly motorists, undirected by signs, kerbs, or road markings, reduce their speed and establish eye contact with other users. Results from the thousands of such implementations worldwide all show casualty reductions and most also show reduced journey times. The partial conversion of London's Kensington High Street to shared space, accidents decreased by 44% (the London average was 17%).
CFI argues for a marked lane width of 4.25 metres (13.9 ft). On undivided roads, width provides cyclists with adequate clearance from passing HGVs while being narrow enough to deter drivers from "doubling up" to form two lanes. This "doubling up" effect may be related to junctions. At non-junction locations, greater width might be preferable if this effect can be avoided. The European Commission specifically endorses wide lanes in its policy document on cycling promotion, Cycling: the way ahead for towns and cities.
Shared bus and cycle lanes are also a widely endorsed method for providing for cyclists. Research carried out by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) describes shared bus cycle lanes as "generally very popular" with cyclists. Guidance produced for Cycling England endorses bus lanes because they provide cyclists with a "direct and barrier-free route into town centres" while avoiding complications related to shared-use footways. A French survey found that 42% of cyclists were "enthusiasts" for shared bus-bike lanes, versus 33% who had mixed opinions, and 27% who opposed them. Many cycling activists view these as being more attractive than cycle paths, while others object to being in close proximity to bus exhausts.
As of 2003, mixed bus/cycle lanes accounted for 118 kilometres (73 mi) of the 260 kilometres (160 mi) of cycling facilities in Paris. The city of Bordeaux, France has 40 kilometres (25 mi) of shared bus-bike lanes. The UK city of Bristol, a showcase bus priority corridor, re-allocated 14 kilometres (8.7 mi) of road space, which resulted in more space for cyclists and increased cycling. The opposite happened in London following the removal of a bus lane on the Kew Bridge, despite an overall increase in cycling throughout the city.
In addition, it is arguably easier, politically speaking, to argue for funding of joint facilities rather than separately asking for cycling facilities and bus-only lanes. Bus-lane proposals often run into opposition from cyclists because creating space for bus lanes generally results in narrowing the other lanes shared by cars and cyclists. Incidentally, the TRL reports that cyclists and bus drivers tend to have low opinions of one other. In some cities, arrangements work successfully with bus companies and cyclists' groups ensure communication and understanding between the two groups of road users.
A Bikeway is a general term for a route, way or path which in some manner is specifically designed and /or designated for bicycle travel. It comes in various forms and names such as (but not limited to): bicycle boulevard, bicycle trail, foreshoreway, greenway or sharrow.
Denmark has pioneered the concept of “bicycle superhighways” to increase the speed, safety, and comfort of bicycle commuting. The first route, C99, opened in 2012 between the Vesterbro rail station in Copenhagen and Albertslund, a western suburb. The route cost 13.4 million DKK and is 17.5 km long, built with few stops and new paths away from traffic. “Service stations” with air pumps are located at regular intervals, and where the route must cross streets, handholds and running boards are provided so cyclists can wait without having to put their feet on the ground.
Segregated cycle facilities
Segregated cycle facilities such as cycle lanes and cycle tracks are often advocated as a means of promoting utility cycling. A pro-cycling paper, stated to have been accepted for publication in the Transport Reviews journal, states that "the provision of separate cycling facilities" appears to be one of the keys to the achieving of high levels of cycling in the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany. Streets or paths that are open to cyclists but not motorists can benefit cyclists where they provide links that are more convenient than the main road network, or help resolve obstacles. Examples include routes through pedestrian precincts.
A bicycle boulevard is a low speed street which has been optimized for bicycle traffic. Bicycle boulevards discourage cut-through motor vehicle traffic but allow local motor vehicle traffic. They are designed to give priority to cyclists as through-going traffic.
A greenway is a long, narrow piece of land, often used for recreation and pedestrian and bicycle user traffic, and sometimes for streetcar, light rail or retail uses.
Bicycle parking/storage arrangements
As secure and convenient bicycle parking is a key factor in influencing a person's decision to cycle, decent parking infrastructure must be provided to encourage the uptake of cycling. Decent bicycle parking involves infrastructure such as lockers, stands, manned or unmanned bicycle parks, as well as bike parking facilities within workplaces to facilitate bicycle commuting. It also will help if certain legal arrangements are put into place to enable legitimate ad hoc parking, for example to allow people to lock their bicycles to railings, signs and other street furniture.
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.
Theft reduction measures
The theft of bicycles is one of the major problems that slow the development of urban cycling. Bicycle theft discourages regular cyclists from buying new bicycles, as well as putting off people who might want to invest in a bicycle.
Several measures can help reduce bicycle theft:
- making cyclists aware of antitheft devices and their effective use
- promoting devices to enable remote tracking of a bicycle's location
- registration of bicycles to enable recovery if stolen
- targeting cycle thieves
- mounting sting operations to catch thieves
- using Folding bicycles which can be safely stored (for example) in cloakrooms or under desks
Certain European countries apply such measures with success, such as the Netherlands or certain German cities using registration and recovery. Since mid-2004, France has instituted a system of registration, in some places allowing stolen bicycles to be put on file in partnership with the urban cyclists' associations. This approach has reputedly increased the stolen bicycle recovery rate to more than 40%. By comparison, before the commencement of registration, the recovery rate in France was about 2%.
In some areas of the United Kingdom, bicycles fitted with location tracking devices are left poorly secured in theft hot-spots. When the bike is stolen, the police can locate it and arrest the thieves. This sometimes leads to the dismantling of organized bicycle theft rings.
Help with hills
Integration with other transport modes
Cycling can often be integrated successfully with other transport modes. For example, in the Netherlands and Denmark a large number of train journeys may start by bicycle. In 1991, 44% of Dutch train travelers went to their local station by bicycle and 14% used a bicycle at their destinations. The key ingredients for this are claimed to be:
- an efficient, attractive and affordable train service
- secure bike parking at train stations
- a town planning policy that results in a sufficient proportion of the potential commuter population (e.g. 44%) living/working within a reasonable cycling distance of the train stations.
It has been argued in relation to this aspect of Dutch or Danish policy that ongoing investment in rail services is vital to maintaining their levels of cycle use.
An often forgotten major success story is the integration of cycling and public transport is Japan. Starting in 1978, Japan expanded bicycle parking supply at railway stations from 598,000 spaces in 1977 to 2,382,000 spaces in 1987. As of 1987, Japanese provisions included 516 multi-story garages for bicycle parking.
In January 2007, the European parliament adopted a motion decreeing that all international trains must carry bicycles. In some cities, bicycles may also be carried on local trains, trams and buses so that they may be used at either end of the trip. The Rheinbahn transit company in Düsseldorf permits bicycle carriage on all its bus, tram and train services at any time of the day. In France, the prestigious TGV high-speed trains are even having some of their first class capacity converted to store bicycles. There have also been schemes, such as in Victoria, British Columbia, Acadia, and Canberra, Australia to provide bicycle carriage on buses using externally mounted bike carriers.
In Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, three bus routes have externally mounted carriers for bicycles. All public transit buses in Chicago and suburbs allow up to two bikes at all times. The same is true of Grand River Transit buses in the Region of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. Trains allow bikes with some restrictions. Where such services are not available, some cyclists get around this restriction by using folding bikes that can be brought onto the train or bus like a piece of luggage.
However, there are strong cultural variations in how cycling is treated in such situations. For instance in the Irish university city of Galway the secure parking of bikes is forbidden within the grounds of the central train station. However, cut-price car parking is available for motorists holding a valid train ticket.
Photo gallery of cycling from around the globe
- Cycle-Friendly Infrastructure: Guidelines for Planning and Design, Institution of Highways and Transportation, Cyclists Touring Club, 1996.
- Cycling in the Netherlands. Ministerie van Verkeer en Waterstaat , accessed 14 February 2009
- Assen Transport Infrastructure / Cycling Study Tour 2009
- "New Road City Centre Shared Space, Brighton (December 2007)". Scheme of the Month: January 2008. Cycling England. Archived from the original on 2008-02-02. Retrieved 2008-03-18.
- Woonerf revisited Delft as an example, Steven Schepel, Childstreet2005 conference, Delft 2005 (Accessed 2007-02-21
- Transport Planning in Groningen, Holland Bicycle Fixation (Accessed 2007-01-27)
- The Impacts of Reallocating Roadspace on Accident Rates: Some Initial Evidence Sally Cairns Note from Road Danger Reduction Forum conference, Leicester, 16 February 1999. (Accessed 2007-02-02)
- DIVV Amsterdam
- Cycling in London Report, May 2008 section 4.6
- Matt Hanka and John Gilderbloom (1 February 2008). "Opinion: Time to end one-way thinking". Courier Journal. Retrieved 2008-03-26.[dead link]
- way streets "Traffic calming schemes: One way streets, banned turning movements and no entry restrictions". Bury Metropolitan Borough Council. Retrieved 2008-03-26.
- "Ministerieel rondschrijven betreffende de toepassing van het beperkt éénrichtingsverkeer". Belgisch Staatsblad. 1998-11-13., "Circulaire ministérielle relative à l'application du sens unique limité". Moniteur Belge. 13 November 1998.
- Verkehrssicherheit in Einbahnstraßen mit gegengerichtetem Radverkehr, Alrutz, D., Angenendt, W., Draeger, W., Gündel, D., Straßenverkehrstechnik, 6/2002
- Le SUL Cyclistes a contresens dans les sens uniques Groupe de Recherche et d’Action des Cyclistes Quotidiens, Brussels 2006, (Accessed 2007-01-27)
- Collection of Cycle Concepts, Danish Roads Directorate, Copenhagen, 2000
- Infrastructure position document, Dublin Cycling Campaign (Accessed 2007-01-27)
- Layout and Design Factors Affecting Cycle Safety at T-Junctions, Henson R. and Whelan N., Traffic Engineering and Control, October 1992
- Pedal cyclists at dual carriage-way slip roads, M.C. Williams and R.E. Layfield, Traffic Engineering and Control, pp. 597-600, November, 1987
- Accidents at Three Arm Priority Junctions on Urban Single Carriageway Roads Summersgill I., Kennedy J.V. and Baynes D. TRL Report 184, Transport Research Laboratory, 1996.
- Cyclists and Roundabouts-A review of literature, Allot and Lomax, 1991
- Multilane Roundabouts, An Information Sheet, Galway Cycling Campaign, February 2001
- Priority for cycling in an urban traffic control system, Stephen D. Clark, Matthew W. Page, Institute for Transport Studies, University of Leeds, Velomondial Conference Proceedings, Amsterdam 2000
- Traffic Signal Actuators: Am I Paranoid? John S. Allen, 2003 (Accessed 25 March 2008)
- Assessing the Impact of Local Transport Policy Instruments Susan Grant-Muller (Editor), ITS Working Paper 549, Institute of Transport Studies, Leeds University, April 2000
- Green wave for cycles, Cycle Campaign Network News, No 85, November 2006
- Legally Speaking - with Bob Mionske: Law of the land
- Simon Jenkins (29 February 2008). "Rip out the traffic lights and railings. Our streets are better without them". The Guardian (Guardian News and Media). Retrieved 2008-03-18.
- Cycling: the way ahead for towns and cities, European Commission, 1999
- Cycling in bus lanes, Reid S and Guthrie N TRL Report 610, Transport Research Laboratory 2004
- A.10 Bus Lanes and Bus Stops Cycling England design guidelines 2007
- La complémentarité entre vélo et transport public Vélocité - la revue du cycliste urbain N° 79, janv. / fév. 2005
- The bicycle's place in town Seminar organised by the Mayor's Office of the 18th District, Paris, September 2004
- A vélo, Mairie de Bordeaux (Accessed 28 October 2007)
- Delivery of the National Cycling Strategy: A review UK Department for Transport March 2005
- Review of procedures associated with the development and delivery of measures designed to improve safety and convenience for cyclists Transport for London, January 2005
- Cycle Network and Route Planning Guide, Land Transport Safety Authority, New Zealand
- Mitbenutzung von Busspuren durch Radfahrer, Allgemeiner Deutscher Fahrrad-Club e.V./Bundesministeriums für Verkehr, January 2005. Translated here 
- Letter of Objection to Bus lanes on Wilton Road Cambridge Cycle Campaign, September 2003
- Bus Drivers and Cyclists in Harmony, Warrington Cycle Campaign Leaflet, 2006
- Les couloirs bus + vélos VeloBuc (Accessed 22 October 2007)
- Pucher and Buehler (12 November 2007). Making Cycling Irresistible: Lessons from the Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany (PDF).
- Lesson 17: Bicycle Parking and Storage
- Michael Baltes (2005), Integration of bicycles and transit, National Research Council (U.S.). Transportation Research Board, p. 39, "The first staffed bicycle parking facility in the United States was opened in Long Beach, California."
- Success is on the cards, London Cyclist, June–July 2009, p. 6
- Guide for Employers: Showers, lockers and drying room, London Cycling Campaign, 13 September 2006 (Accessed 16 August 2007)
- Ton Welleman: The autumn of the Bicycle Master Plan: after the plans, the products in: Proceedings of the 8th VELO-CITY Conference, Basel, 26–30 September 1995
- Cycling for Transportation: The Japanese Example By Paul Dorn (Accessed 2007-01-27)
- Bicycle Access to Public Transportation: Learning from Abroad by Michael Replogle, Journal of the Institute for Transportation Engineers, December 1992
- Article 4a European Parliament legislative resolution on the Council common position on international rail passengers' rights and obligations (5892/1/2006 – C6-0311/2006–2004/0049(COD)) January 2007
- Taking bicycles on the VRR Rheinische Bahngesellschaft AG (Accessed 2007-02-23)
- First class to bike class Cycle Campaign Network News Archive 2006 (Accessed 2007-02-23)
- Bike and Ride
- New Ways to Explore Acadia
- ACTION Buses: Bike and Ride
- City of Edmonton
- Pace Bus - Bicycle Racks
- Bus 'n' Bike