Mixed reception for guidance on cycle infrastructure
CTC was pleased with the restatement of the Hierarchy of Provision (p. 10 of CID) for cycling which prioritises measures to reduce the volume and speed of traffic - i.e. tackling the major deterrents to cycling at source.
However, there are also a number of important details which remain unsatisfactory, and in many ways the new document is significantly weaker than the original 1996 Cycle Friendly Infrastructure (CFI) guidelines.
CTC was particularly concerned that CID failed to rule out cycle lanes of less than 1.5m as unacceptable except for short lengths in a few very limited circumstances. It is dangerous to suggest to drivers that they can safely overtake cyclists with less than 1.5m to spare. Where road-space is limited, it is better to narrow the general traffic lane and mark the cycle lane as 'advisory' rather than 'mandatory' (i.e. dashed rather than solid lines, meaning that drivers are advised not to enter the cycle lane but are not legally prohibited from doing so). If that is not practicable (e.g. on narrow roads with significant bus or goods vehicle flows), then something must be done to reduce the volume and/or the speed of the traffic - i.e. a solution from higher up the Hierarchy of Provision must be found.
CTC's guide to CID looks at the document in more depth.
There remains a great deal of ignorance among local authority planners and engineers about what constitutes good cycle provision - despite the existence of the original CFI guidelines. It is not for nothing that 11,000 cyclists protested vehemently in 2006 when a draft revision of the Highway Code proposed words that would have put cyclists legally at risk if they chose not to use 'cycle facilities' - even though these are often substandard and some even put cyclists at risk. To overcome these problems, the Government must take steps to ensure CID is well disseminated and explained to the relevant professionals:
- The Hierarchy of Provision needs more detailed explanation, to help planners/engineers choose the most suitable option. Reducing traffic speed and volume should not be discounted as 'too difficult'.
- The DfT must provide comprehensive training events so that practitioners really understand the guidelines and how to apply them.
- Most importantly of all, the Hierarchy of Provision needs to be written into other planning and engineering guidelines, not just the one on Cycle Infrastructure Design and the Manual for Streets (which planners are only required to follow when designing new-build residential streets).