On the 27th of July, the UK Government published its “Gear Change: A bold vision for cycling and walking” document, a plan that sets out the long-term vision of radically increasing active travel, with a £2 billion investment fund for cycling and walking to facilitate this. In support of the “Gear Change” vision, the LTN1/20 “Cycle Infrastructure Design” document was also published, containing guidance for local authorities and highways engineers on designing high-quality, safe cycle schemes and infrastructure.
The New Guidance on Cycling Infrastructure Design
The nature of the document sets out minimum standards for cycle infrastructure, including but not limited to, cycle lanes and tracks, junctions and crossings, construction and maintenance, and cycle parking. The standards set are high, however the document provides considerable detail on how to achieve them. For schemes to gain funding these standards must be met, therefore a new funding body and inspectorate, Active Travel England, will be appointed to enforce and provide funding, respectively.
The Key Requirements of LTN1/20
LTN 1/20 is now expected to be used by Local Authorities and Developers when designing cycle schemes and standards for their roads. Five fundamental design principles are identified, which state that networks and routes should be coherent, direct, safe, comfortable, and attractive. The key points are as follows:
- Coherent - people must be able to reach their destinations easily, along routes that connect, are simple to navigate and are of consistent high quality.
- Direct - routes should provide the shortest and fastest way of travelling from place to place.
- Safe - routes must be safe and crucially must also be perceived to be safe.
- Comfortable - routes should be good quality, well-maintained, smooth, have minimal stopping-starting and avoid steep gradients.
- Attractive - environment should be attractive, stimulating and free from litter.
A further twenty-two summary principles are outlined, alongside the statement that “inclusive design and accessibility should run through all of the principles”. A summary of these principles is outlined below:
1: Cycle infrastructure should be accessible to everyone
2: Cycles must be treated as vehicles and not as pedestrians
3: Cyclists must be physically separated and protected from high volume motor traffic
4: Side streets if closed to through traffic can be an alternative to segregated facilities but only if truly direct
5: Cycle infrastructure should be designed for significant numbers of cyclists, and for
6: Consideration of the opportunities to improve cycling provisions will be an expectation of any future local highway schemes funded by Government
7: Largely cosmetic interventions which bring few or no benefits for cycling or walking will not be funded from any cycling or walking budget
8: Cycle infrastructure must join together, or join other facilities together by taking a holistic, connected network approach
9: Cycle parking must be included in substantial schemes
10: Schemes must be legible and understandable
11: Schemes must be clearly and comprehensively signposted and labelled
12: Major ‘iconic’ items, such as overbridges must form part of wider, properly thought-through schemes
13: As important as building a route itself is maintaining it properly afterwards
14: Surfaces must be hard, smooth, level, durable, permeable and safe in all weathers
15: Trials can help achieve change and ensure a permanent scheme is right first time
16: Access control measures, such as chicane barriers and dismount signs, should not be used
17: The simplest, cheapest interventions can be the most effective
18: Cycle routes must flow, feeling direct and logical
19: Schemes must be easy and comfortable to ride
20: All designers of cycle schemes must experience the roads as a cyclist
21: Schemes must be consistent
22: When to break these principles: In rare cases, where it is absolutely unavoidable,
a short stretch of less good provision rather than jettison an entire route which is otherwise good will be appropriate
Principle 13 has been deemed hugely significant as it promotes a greater focus on maintenance than previous standards. The principle goes on to state that ‘route proposals should always include a clear programme of maintenance’, implying funding will only be granted if provisions are in place for maintenance of the whole-life of the asset.
Principle 20 is also of note, as it requires that designers of schemes must experience the roads as a cyclist. This will be of benefit, as a greater understanding of the impacts and issues that a scheme may generate can be obtained by the designers and developers.
Mechanisms of Assessment
As part of the guidance provided by LTN 1/20, two mechanisms are provided that set minimum quality criteria. These are the Cycling Level of Service tool (CLoS) and the Junction Assessment tool (JAT). These are important as only schemes with a minimum score of 70% under the CLoS, no critical fails, and under the JAT, no red-scored turning movements will generally be considered for funding. If the criteria are not met, then authorities will be required to justify the design choices.
The CLoS tool includes a simple scoring assessment based on the attributes of the five fundamental design criteria. The assessment can be used to identify strengths and weaknesses of cycling provision and also includes ‘Critical Fails’ which represent unsafe conditions for cycling which must be addressed. As a cycle route may consist of different types of infrastructure along its length, it may therefore be necessary to split the route into consistent sections (in terms of design) and then assess each section independently.
Key factors considered in the CLoS tool include risk of collision, avoiding complex design, wayfinding and surface quality. There are 13 factors in total, split into 25 principles that can be scored.
The JAT tool enables designers to assess how well a junction provides for cycling and is an adaptation of a similar tool in the 2014 London Cycling Design Standards (LCDS). All potential movements are examined not just those associated with a designated cycle route and the potential conflicts are identified.
Other Key Points Identified in the Plan
- Minimum width for cycle tracks and lanes of 1.5m, rising to 3 metres for high flow two-way traffic, is recommended.
- Designers should aim to provide geometry to enable most people to proceed at a comfortable speed, typically around 20mph.
- Aim is to create a densely spaced network (typically with 250m to 1km spacing between routes) depending on the density of land use.
- Minimising effort should be a key consideration in the design of any infrastructure
- New junctions should be designed to provide good conditions for cycling in all permitted directions, regardless of whether they are on a designated route, unless there are clearly-defined and suitable alternatives.
- Cycle parking should be provided at the following locations: Places of residence; Interchanges with other modes of transport; Short stay destinations such as shops and cafes; and Long-stay destinations such as for work and education.
- Appropriate cycle facilities should be provided within all new and improved highways in accordance with the guidance contained in this document, regardless of whether the scheme is on a designated cycle route, unless there are clearly-defined and suitable alternatives.