International study finds the key conditions for growing cycling

11 lessons for cities aiming to grow cycling

A team of transport planning specialists have put 14 cities under the microscope where mass cycling is established or is a clear goal.

Phil Jones Associates and Urban Movement were appointed by Transport for London for the new study, which examined the likes of New York and Utrecht by observation, interviews and riding up to 50km in each city.

What did they find? That there is no ready template for London or any other UK city to adopt or follow. However, it did find a number of key common conditions for cities looking to grow cycling:

1. There is clear political and technical pro-cycling leadership
2. Cycling is considered as a desirable mode of transport worthy of investment
3. Increasing cycle mode share is seen as an important method in decreasing car use, though not at the detriment of pedestrian or public transport use or safety
4. Loss of traffic capacity or parking to create better cycling facilities is not a veto
5. There is dedicated, fit for purpose space for cycling, typically of one of these three types:
• Cycle lanes or tracks on busier streets with appropriate separation and protection from the motor traffic
• Quiet streets with 20mph or lower speed limits and restrictions on motor access
• Motor traffic-free Cycleways/greenways that are predominantly away from the main highway e.g. in parks or along disused railway lines
6. Where the aim is to grow cycling rapidly, simple, cheap and effective means of securing space for cycling have been used as first steps
7. There is clarity about the overall cycling network with connectedness, legibility and continuity being key attributes
8. There is clear, widely accepted and well-used guidance on the design of cycling infrastructure
9. The frequency of occasions when cyclists need to give way or stop is minimised
10. Where the cycling mode share is greater, the driving culture is respectful of cycling
11. Making better provision for cycling is an ongoing challenge, with growth in cycling and future urban growth requiring clear forward planning

Phil Jones said: “The best and most mature cycling cities such as Utrecht, Copenhagen and Malmo have enjoyed cross-party support for cycling over many years and have the policy and ring-fenced funding to show for it. These cities have political and technical leaders that understand the benefits cycling can bring to a city across economic, environmental and social platforms. Whilst London is catching up at this political level, many of the UK’s regional cities are yet to demonstrate this.”

John Dales of Urban Movement added: “Some cities, such as New York and Seville have shown that it is possible to grow cycling levels significantly over just a few years by employing pragmatic, relatively inexpensive, and sometimes intentionally interim measures of securing space for cycling. Spatial separation and protection from motor traffic is seen as one of the most crucial and quickest methods for increasing cycle use; while there is also clear recognition that the value of good infrastructure is undermined if provision gives up when the going gets tough.”

The study report is designed to enable UK practitioners more clearly to understand what works well in other cities, and why, and the pros, cons and challenges related to different approaches to the same issue. Techniques are presented under various headings (Links, Junctions, Traffic/Network Management and Interaction with Other Users) and an account given of how easy or difficult it is to apply these in the context of contemporary UK practice, regulations and law.

The International Cycling Infrastructure Best Practice Study was delivered by Phil Jones Associates and Urban Movement with Rod Black, Hoe 360 Consulting, Transport Initiatives, Professor John Parkin, Local Transport Projects and Project Centre.

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