Designing and Planning for Cycling Training Workshop

Designing and Planning For Cycling training workshop

John Bennett and I attended this workshop run by MADE on behalf of Push Bikes. There were approx twenty other delegates – three from Birmingham City Council, one from Centro, eight from Bristol City Council, a few from other local councils, together with a couple of students. At the introductions it was disappointing that several were not regular commuting cyclists and most had only passing involvement with cycling infrastructure design.

The slides from the presentations are available, including more for which there wasn't time. Slide 25 about total deaths in England and Wales 2010 (all causes, all ages) is not easy to read, but is useful to show that the dangers of cycling (96 deaths out of 493,242) are minuscule compared to the dangers of inactivity.

After a trawl through the benefits of cycling (yawn) there was a more interesting discussion on the potential 'near market' in raising the current 2% nationally – specifically more women and more older people (but plenty of scope for everyone else).

The speakers (Phil Jones/Adrian Lord) outlined the several guidance documents available:

  • Cycling infrastructure design DfT local transport note 2/08 (considered to be getting out of date)
  • London Cycling Design Standards – issued by the London Cycling Campaign
  • Wales Active Travel Design Guidance – issued by the Welsh Government Office
  • Sustrans Cycle-Friendly Design Manual
  • Birmingham's BCR Design Guide (in draft)

These all list the basic principles for cycling routes, though the words used are not identical:

  • coherent
  • direct
  • safe
  • comfortable
  • attractive

and the assessment tools in judging how well each item of the route conforms to these principles.  We don’t think that the Birmingham Design Manual will include a scoring/audit tool – we might raise this at the BCR Stakeholders’ Group.

Other topics covered were:

  • design techniques to ensuring adequate cycle lane/carriageway widths and clearances.
  • variety of separation methods
  • road layout  geometry
  • contraflow
  • permeability and barriers
  • imminent relaxation of regulation (TSRGC2015) which will permit easier introduction of contraflow, 'except cycles' on no entry signs, mandatory lane marking
  • junctions and crossings.

In summary the presentations were interesting and would be very useful for training engineers and planners in making sensible and effective cycling infrastructure. The message was that it was important to insist on high standards – both of space allocation and construction standards. Not enough of the right people from Birmingham were there to benefit.  However the two highways engineers who attended said that they would like to attend Bikeability training – we should follow that up.

John had to leave before the site visit and the design session.  Both were rather rushed and the quality of the plan provided was poor; I didn’t gain much from them.