Roads & Paths for June – Design Guidance

George Riches writes

In April I went on a half day course on the Cycling Design Guidance document produced by the West Midlands Combined Authority.

Many cyclists complain about the U.K.’s poor cycling infrastructure. Warrington Cycling Campaign even has a website mocking various token cycle facilities. By the late 1990’s the British experience of cycling infrastructure was so bad that a significant number of cycle campaigners were considering rejecting the whole idea of cycle facilities separated from motor traffic.

Nevertheless good cycling facilities are possible and slowly design standards are improving. In 2010 the Department of Transport produced the first design guidance. It had plenty of flaws:

  • cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders were lumped together as “Non Motorised Users”, as if their needs and speeds were much the same.
  • facilities were always an “add on” to the motoring facilities, often squeezed into insufficient space.
  • there were lots of “where possible” clauses.
  • no consideration was given to “place” (user numbers and purpose).
  • the Public Sector Equality Duty was not considered.

Since 2010, better documents have emerged from Transport for London and the Scottish and Welsh governments. The Department of Transport is revising its own guidance.

I’ll certainly cite the West Midlands guide when communicating with engineers and planners about their highway proposals, especially those who are not cycling specialists.


Sustran’s Bike Life study extends over West Midlands Combined Authority area.

Road Danger Reduction Forum’s response to the government’s Cycling Safety Review.

Why forcing cyclists to wear helmets will not save lives:  Video

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