CTC supports high quality facilities - not fiddly pavement conversions
CTC supports high quality facilities - not fiddly pavement conversions

CTC declares support for quality segregation while still opposing "farcilities"

CTC has published its revised policy on infrastructure setting out an ambition to see “a massive step-change in cycle use, so that people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities can feel able to cycle safely and confidently for all types of journey.”

The new policy calls for neighbourhoods, town centres and road networks to be “fundamentally redesigned to be ‘people-friendly’, with cycling not only contributing to a reduction in car dependence, but also benefiting from it”.

It has been drawn up through a thorough process of taking soundings from CTC members and non-members alike, from experts in the field, and a review of the relevant research evidence.  A CTC online survey, which elicited over 1,100 responses, found that there was strong support for CTC’s core principles on cycle-friendly planning and design, namely that the most valuable measures are those which contribute to the wider aims of traffic reduction, speed reduction, the redesign of junctions, the provision of dedicated road-space on busier roads, and the creation of quality cycle routes away from roads (e.g. through parks and open spaces, or alongside waterfronts and disused railway corridors).

In support of these principles, CTC points to evidence from a study by University College London, commissioned by the Department for Transport, which found that traffic reduction is the most important factor for boosting active travel, while a TRL report found that that speed reduction is the most important infrastructure measure for improving cyclists’ safety.  The briefing therefore calls for 20mph limits for most streets in built-up areas, including villages, and 40mph or lower limits on most rural lanes.

On the question of physically segregated cycle facilities on urban main roads, CTC found that there was a spectrum of opinion, with some people very positive about segregation, and others deeply sceptical of it.  However a large majority of respondents expressed mixed feelings, saying they would support this if they felt it could be done to the standards common in countries such as Denmark or the Netherlands, but still voicing strong opposition to poor quality segregated facilities which are prevalent in the UK, which seem to be more about getting cyclists out of the way than actually 'facilitating' cycling. 

This dislike of poor segregation was particularly evident from the 11,000 cyclists who supported CTC’s successful campaign 5 years ago against a proposed amendment to the Highway Code, which would have told cyclists to “use cycle facilities … where provided”.  CTC and many of its supporters felt this could create a serious legal prejudice against cyclists who feel, often entirely reasonably, that the cycle facilities provided for them are often worse than useless.

CTC’s new briefing calls for all busier roads to have “some form of dedicated space” for cyclists. It recognises the the potential benefits of this taking the form of quality segregated facilities where the highway authority has the will to provide these to a high standard, whilst making it clear that all cycle facilities should “be safe and feel safe, showing that society positively values those who chose to cycle, and avoiding any impression that they are a ‘nuisance’ to be ‘kept out of the way of the traffic.”

CTC therefore urges that segregated facilities should normally be created from existing road-space rather than pavement space. They should avoid creating conflict, either with pedestrians, or with motor vehicles at junctions – given that 75% of cyclists’ collisions occur at or near junctions – ensuring that cyclists have at least as much priority at junctions as they would if using the road.

Conversely, if the authority does not have the will to meet these standards and its budget only extends to painting some white lines, CTC believes these would be better placed on the road. 

Although on-road facilities on urban main roads may not create the conditions where people of all ages and backgrounds are willing to take up cycling straight away, they may nonetheless be a more cost-effective means to boost cyclist numbers and hence the strength of ‘the cyclists’ vote’ locally.”

CTC's infrastructure policy

London has seen substantial growth in cycle use since 2000, achieved primarily through measures other than segregation, but in the process has generated the political momentum needed if campaigns for high quality segregation are to succeed.

All facilities, segregated or otherwise, should have sufficient widths for the levels of expected use, and should be well surfaced and maintained. On busier roads with insufficient width for dedicated space to be provided, steps should be taken to reduce traffic volumes and/or speeds. Routes should be well signed, and secure and convenient cycle parking should provided as needed to encourage more people to cycle.

Road maintenance budgets - which amount to billions of pounds each year - could be a key source of the funding needed to transform our towns, neighbourhoods and road networks to be cycle-friendly and people friendly – as could the planning system. CTC points to the example of New York which delivered significant cycling improvements by this means in recent years, and is now urging councils in Britain to adopt a similar approach.

Roger Geffen