Planning cycle routes involves considering the most appropriate facility for any particular situation. This section identifies the facility types that can be used on sections of the network between intersections, and their advantages and disadvantages. It also discusses complementary facilities that may be used at these locations.
Note that structures such as bridges and underpasses are discussed in Cycle route intersection and crossing treatments in relation to grade separation. These structures may also be applied in locations between intersections (for example a bridge across a river) and should be considered in relation to the specific facility type(s) they accommodate and connect to.
Below are some suggestions for determining the best approach to take when determining the appropriate cycling provision in various situations between intersections. A distinction is made between new areas and existing areas because there is more scope for achieving a higher level of provision in new areas. Note that some of the suggestions are related to intersection provision, which is covered in Cycle route intersection and crossing treatments.
Design neighbourhood streets for slow, mixed traffic. Design busier streets with physically separated cycling facilities.
Ensure cycling and walking networks are more closely spaced and permeable than motor traffic networks; add traffic-free links to achieve this. Ideally provisions for cycling should be spaced less than 300 metres apart.
Provide paths through parks and reserves wherever possible, so that they link homes to significant local destinations such as schools and community facilities, and so that less confident cyclists do not have to mix with faster or busier traffic. Ensure that path ends allow direct access to the street for people cycling (ie by kerb ramps).
Use paths and grade separation to link communities along and across the barriers of busy roads.
Successful examples show a commitment to high-quality design, grade separation at main obstacles such as major roads, and careful attention to connections to the road network and across it.
Existing road hierarchies usually provide the basis for a primary cycling network. But there may be additional key connections through off-road corridors.
Use the planning process in Assessing cycle demand to identify places where people already cycle, and look for new opportunities to apply all the principles and types of facilities described in this guide.
Develop options to improve the on-road provision and seek alternatives that will bypass obstacles or hazards or provide new, convenient links or alternatives for less competent cyclists. Pay particular attention to intersections.
Consider the network needs of neighbourhood cyclists in their local environments. Integrate with local area traffic management planning, neighbourhood accessibility planning, and travel planning initiatives.
The Design guidance section is the primary source of guidance for designing cycle routes. This section outlines the planning considerations that should be taken into account.
The diagram below is a guide to the desirable cycling facilities in relation to whether these are completely on-road or involve some physical separation from traffic; this is most useful when planning for new situations. In practice, constraints on space, presence of side roads and driveways, type of users, political and community support and costs will also dictate the choice of facilities when retrofitting existing situations. These and other considerations are discussed below.
As the level of separation from motor traffic increases:
potential for conflict between people on bikes and motor vehicles decreases (except for at points where motor vehicles need to cross the cycle route, such as at driveways and intersections, in which case risk of conflict may increase, especially where cycling in the contraflow direction is involved
exposure to traffic fumes and noise decrease
attractiveness of surroundings (generally) increases
shared paths are a likely facility type – these involve interference from pedestrians, pets, skateboarders, slower cyclists etc.
geometric design requirements decrease.
As discussed in the section on People who cycle, those who cycle require provisions appropriate to their needs. Depending on the circumstances, some people may find the non-cycleway forms of on-road provision for cycling adequate, without requiring dedicated facilities. Therefore this guidance includes various provision types that do not involve dedicated facilities. Note though, if a route without dedicated facilities forms part of a cycle network, it may be necessary to use special guide or route signs and/or markings to achieve coherence.
The following diagram may give a useful indication as to the appropriate facility type. It may be necessary to adjust this if a less confident audience is desired. Also, this diagram does not include all the forms of provision outlined in this guidance.
The diagram above is from Collection of Cycling Concepts, Jensen et al. (2012) and the New Zealand Cycle Trail Design Guide, 5th edition, ViaStrada (2019).
In general, roads with higher traffic speed and traffic volumes are more difficult for cyclists to negotiate than roads with lower speeds and volumes. The threshold for comfort and safety for cyclists is a function of both traffic volume and speed differential between cyclists and motor vehicles (note that this is affected by road gradient), and varies by cyclist experience and trip purpose. Facilities based on this chart will have the broadest appeal.
When school cyclists are numerous, or the route is primarily used for recreation, then path treatments may be preferable to road treatments.
Provision of a cycle path does not necessarily imply that an on-road solution would not also be useful, and vice-versa. Nor does it imply that on-road cycling should be banned. Different kinds of cyclists have different needs. Family groups may prefer off-road cycle paths while sports cyclists, or commuters, tend to prefer cycle lanes or wide sealed shoulders.
Most roads are mixed traffic roads, where no formal cycle facilities are provided and cyclists can share the roads with general traffic. Note that neighbourhood greenways are also technically ‘mixed traffic’ situations as cyclists share the road space with general traffic, however the vehicle volumes and speeds involved make them suitable for most interested but concerned people to cycle along. The general mixed traffic situations on busier roads considered in this section are mainly appropriate to enthused and confident cyclists. Mixed traffic roads should be considered as a spectrum; a number of roads that lie between busy arterial roads and neighbourhood greenways. As traffic volumes and speeds decrease, such roads become more appealing to a wider proportion of interested but concerned cyclists.
Bus lanes and transit lanes (also covered below) are not mixed traffic lanes, as they involve restrictions on the types of motor vehicles that can use them.
Traffic lanes where cyclists are expected to mix with general traffic should be either:
wide enough for cyclists to ride adjacent to motor vehicles, including:
to the left of motor vehicles, or
to the right of parked vehicles (eg in a clearway during off-peak times)
so narrow that cyclists must ‘take the lane’ and ride behind or in front of motor vehicles.
Each of these two categories are discussed individually in the following sub-sections. The Design guidance section details the widths required for wide and narrow mixed traffic lanes. In-between widths should be avoided, as these can result in drivers of motor vehicles attempting to pass cyclists when it is not safe to do so. Unfortunately, many existing traffic lanes do have in-between widths; these locations should be identified and rectified.
A general traffic lane is considered to be ‘wide’ if it allows enough space for people on bicycles to ride beside motor vehicles, with a reasonable degree of comfort to suit enthused and confident cyclists.
Wide lanes are generally provided:
in the kerbside position:
where no parking is allowed
where parking is allowed part-time (ie a clearway)
in the leftmost lane next to parking (as cyclists generally occupy the leftmost lane so that they have moving traffic on only one side).
This facility requires slightly less space than the combined width of a travel lane and a cycle lane.
A wide kerbside lane can be easily implemented by re-marking the position of traffic lane lines, subject to width requirements.
Wide lanes do not highlight cyclists’ legitimate presence on the road, although sharrow markings could be used to assist this.
Car parking restrictions are required for wide kerbside lanes.
Motor traffic in a wider lane may travel faster.
Motorists will generally take a central position within a lane when cyclists are not present, and are required to change this positioning when a cyclist is present. This may result in an uncomfortable situation when a motorist driving in the central position encounters a cyclist in the lane, or deter an observer from wanting to cycle in this location.
Only attractive to a proportion of enthused and confident cyclists who generally prefer dedicated cycle lanes. Not attractive to interested but concerned cyclists, unless in slow quiet streets (see neighbourhood greenways below).
Wide lanes will not attract a large proportion of potential cyclists compared to dedicated cycle facilities. Cycle lanes or separated cycleways are therefore preferred, and should be applied in locations where the lane layout is full-time (ie does not involve a clearway) and sufficient width is available.
A wide lane accommodating cyclists next to parking must be even wider than a wide kerbside lane so that cyclists are not put at risk by opening car doors. Wide lanes that accommodate cycling next to parking should be used where there is a part-time clearway, ie where the cycling position on the carriageway changes depending on whether the lane accommodates parking (and cyclists ride to the right of parked vehicles) or moving traffic (which cyclists ride to the left of). Note that in clearway design the width required for people on bikes to travel beside moving vehicles exceeds the width required to cycle beside parked vehicles.
Where people will be cycling next to the kerb, the road surface must be of a high quality (for example, with suitable service grates and no lip between the edge of seal and the channel).
The required dimensions for ‘wide’ lanes are detailed in the Design guidance secton.
A narrow mixed traffic lane requires cyclists and motorists to travel in single file. This means that cyclists have to ‘take the lane’ ie adopt the mode of vehicular cycling where they cycle in the centre of the lane. As traffic volumes and speeds increase, the proportion of people who are willing to cycle in this way decreases. Therefore traffic calming treatments are critical.
Sharrows could be useful for indicating to cyclists and motorists that cyclists are expected to take a central position within a shared narrow lane. These have been trialled in New Zealand and are expected to be approved as a legal traffic control device in November 2016.
Requires less space on the roadway than any other method of providing for both cyclists and motorists.
Narrow general traffic lanes (excluding those where traffic speeds and volumes are appropriate for neighbourhood greenways) are only likely to be suitable for a subset of the enthused and confident group, plus the strong and fearless group.
Narrow lanes applied over long lengths in locations with a high speed differential between cyclists and motor vehicles (ie not neighbourhood greenway environments) are likely to result in drivers getting frustrated at being stuck behind cyclists. This in turn will reduce cyclists’ level of comfort and can result in unsafe passing manoeuvres. To address this, it may be prudent to provide regular passing opportunities, eg isolated widened sections.
Note: in general, lower speed differentials will be experienced on descents.
This category is not likely to appeal to a large number of people who cycle, and should only be considered for an enthused and confident target audience. If the target audience is interested but concerned, consider implementing neighbourhood greenways to achieve mixed traffic situations with appropriate traffic speeds and volumes.
It may be suitable to apply narrow lanes over short lengths (for example, on approaches to intersections) but they should not be considered over longer lengths where there is a high speed differential between motor vehicles and cycles (ie motor vehicle speeds are above 30 km/h).
The required dimensions for ‘narrow’ lanes are detailed in the Design guidance secton.
A flush median is a useful tool for transforming lanes of undesirable ‘in-between’ widths into narrow lanes. Flush medians also allow opportunities for vehicles to pass cyclists in either travel direction. While adding a flush median has a positive influence on actual safety (Turner et al, 2009), narrow traffic lanes are less likely to be perceived to be safe.
A special vehicle lane reserved for the use of buses, cycles, mopeds and motorcycles. If a bus lane is specified as ‘bus only’ (by markings and signs) it may not be used by other modes. Road controlling authorities may also choose to specify the inclusion of additional user classes, eg taxis. Some bus lanes may be part-time only, allowing car parking in the off-peak period.
Bus lanes are considered appropriate for an enthused and confident target audience.
As for general mixed traffic lanes, bus lanes should be either:
wide enough for cyclists to ride safely adjacent to buses
narrow enough that cyclists and buses must travel in single file.
The required dimensions for wide and narrow bus lanes are detailed in the Design guidance section. In-between widths should be avoided, as these can result in buses or cyclists attempting to pass each other when it is not safe to do so.
Bus lanes may be more easily justified than either bus-only lanes or cycle lanes alone, as they benefit broader groups of road users.
Buses often use these lanes infrequently during off-peak times, offering people on bicycles unobstructed access for the most part.
People on bikes can also benefit from other bus priority measures (such as phasing head-starts, signal pre-emption etc) along a bus lane.
In wide bus lanes, people on bikes and buses can travel next to one another without interference. During off-peak periods, there is ample width available for both parking and cycling away from the door opening zone.
In narrow bus lanes, the level of service is limited, as buses obstruct cyclists by stopping regularly, and cyclists can prevent buses passing. During off-peak periods, there is generally not enough width left for safe cycling next to parked vehicles.
Lane widths where drivers are unsure whether there is sufficient room to pass, create the greatest cyclist stress.
There can be safety issues with traffic crossing bus lanes in and out of side roads and not checking first for the presence of cycles in the bus lane (Newcombe and Wilson, 2010).
If bus-only lanes are used in some locations (and mixed with normal bus lanes elsewhere), it may not be obvious to cyclists whether they can use them or not.
If no other facility for cyclists is provided, wide bus lanes should be used wherever possible so that buses can pass cyclists within the lane.
Narrow bus lanes may be acceptable where frequently used bus stops can be slightly indented, bus speeds are low, or buses can pass cyclists by temporarily moving out of the lane. Parking should not be permitted in off-peak periods, as the remaining room for cycling is insufficient.
Avoid ambiguous lane widths that are neither wide nor narrow.
A transit lane can only be used by passenger service vehicles, motor cycles, mopeds, cycles and motor vehicles carrying a specified minimum number of persons. From a cycling perspective, it is similar to a wide traffic lane on a bus route.
Transit lanes must be wide enough to accommodate people cycling adjacent to motor traffic, and provide sufficient width for cycling adjacent to parked vehicles at times when parking is allowed. Where buses, or a high proportion of heavy vehicles are expected in a transit lane, the widths for wide bus lanes should be applied. Otherwise, widths for wide general traffic lanes can be used for transit lanes. The required transit lane widths are specified in the Design guidance section.
Neighbourhood greenways, also known as ‘quiet streets’, ‘slow streets’ and ‘bicycle boulevards’, are streets with low volumes of motor traffic (preferably below 1,500 vehicles per day, with an upper limit of about 3,000 vehicles per day, depending on available width) travelling at low speeds (ie 30 km/h or slower), creating an environment where travel by cycle is pleasant without requiring specific cycle facilities. Neighbourhood greenways generally incorporate lower speed limits and, more importantly, physical measures to ensure low traffic speeds. Road markings (such as sharrows) may be used to indicate to cyclists and motorists that they are expected to share the same road space. Physical measures may be used to restrict the movements available to motorists in and out of a neighbourhood greenway, thus controlling vehicle volumes, while allowing permeability to people cycling.
Neighbourhood greenways often provide connections between homes and community facilities such as schools, parks, shops and other key destinations. Neighbourhood greenway routes work best when they follow reasonably direct desire lines, such as along grid networks. Neighbourhood greenways generally increase the amenity for the local community (not just people who cycle) and are not perceived as being just for cycling (Koorey, 2012).
A wide variety of traffic calming devices are available that can be used on neighbourhood greenways, so accommodating cyclists will depend on the individual characteristics of the devices. Refer to Speed management guide(external link) (Transport Agency 2015d).
For example, cyclist bypasses are generally appropriate where there are:
devices with abrupt changes in vertical alignment.
Bypass facilities can often be constructed using the original roadway surface.
Other measures that may be appropriate are:
path links at road closures
formal facilities at major road crossings.
A neighbourhood greenway might involve a street that is one-way for motor vehicles, but allows people to cycle in either direction (via a contra-flow cycle lane or separated path). See also the guidance on provision for contra-flow cycling, as it may be necessary to consider different forms of street design where contra-flow cycling is involved.
Neighbourhood greenways that allow for contra-flow cycling without a formal cycle lane or separated cycleway do exist overseas, but may require approval from the NZ Transport Agency and relevant local bylaws for implementation in New Zealand.
These facilities promote equality and sharing among road users, rather than a ‘my space/your space’ mentality.
Suitable for an interested but concerned target audience, and therefore a large proportion of the total population.
Traffic restriction measures can be used in conjunction with networks of neighbourhood greenways to give advantages to people who cycle and therefore promote cycling.
Residents’ experience of their street may resemble the benefits gained from living in a cul-de-sac.
The cost per kilometre for neighbourhood greenways is generally less than for dedicated cycle facilities that might otherwise be required for an interested but concerned audience on alternative roads with higher traffic speeds and volumes.
Street and crossing treatments for neighbourhood greenways also tend to benefit pedestrians as well.
Even though it is safe for cyclists to mix with low volumes of motor traffic at slow speed differentials, some people may still feel apprehensive about cycling in spaces shared with motor vehicles, especially when required to demand the lane on narrow sections.
It may be difficult to find reasonably direct and legible neighbourhood greenway routes in non-grid street networks.
Street restrictions required for neighbourhood greenway routes may not be favoured (at least initially) by residents and other motor vehicle users of the street.
Most routes based on neighbourhood greenways will eventually require crossings at busier roads, which can be a challenge to design.
Neighbourhood greenways should be considered for local roads, with appropriate supporting treatments to ensure that motor vehicle volumes and speeds remain low.
Ensure the continuity and integrity of cycle routes by using signage (especially where routes change direction) and continuing cycle lanes where mixed conditions are otherwise appropriate.
Crossing treatments of busy roads along the route must be well provided for; otherwise the effectiveness and desirability of the route is diminished.
Ensure the environment makes it clear where cyclists have room to travel beside motor traffic (preferred) or need to travel single file with other traffic. Avoid ambiguous widths and layouts.
This approach aims to eliminate the segregation of road users, to an even further extent than a neighbourhood greenway, as pedestrians are also invited to share the roadway and as such no formal footpaths are provided. Unlike ‘shared paths’, which are just for pedestrians and cyclists, ‘shared zones’ include motor vehicles as well. This approach is popular in Europe and is becoming more common in New Zealand.
The concept relies on the removal of typical street elements including line markings, signage and kerbs, with the addition of extra street furniture such as seats, cycle parking and landscaping. This results in an intentional level of ambiguity so that drivers proceed with caution and at slow speeds. Ideally, to encourage lower speeds, a shared zone should not provide a straight through path for motor vehicles. Typically, shared zones have very low (20 km/h or lower) speed limits. Shared zones often do not provide any specific consideration for moving cyclists, as the low vehicle speeds make the environment similar to a neighbourhood greenway.
In shared zones, the needs and comfort of pedestrians are paramount. People cycling and driving motor vehicles in shared zones are expected to act like guests and travel at a speed that is consistent with a walking pace, and are legally required to give way to pedestrians. People on bikes can effectively act as ‘wheeled pedestrians’ in these spaces.
The options available for accommodating cycling within shared zones are:
allowing all users to mix freely
providing designated paths for cycling through the area (although generally, this is contrary to the purpose of a shared zone)
allowing only certain classes of motor vehicles (for example, buses, taxis or service vehicles)
restricting motor traffic and cycling during certain periods
prohibiting motor traffic and cycling in certain places within the zone.
The most appropriate approach will depend on the situation and the nature and behaviour of all users.
Signs and line markings should be kept to a minimum in shared areas, with priority given to information signs and public relations campaigns for the considerate interaction of users. Road markings or surface treatments that imply a conventional roadway within the shared space may encourage motorists and cyclists to travel faster through what they perceive to be ‘their’ part of the street.
Promote equality and sharing among road users, rather than a ‘my space/your space’ mentality. Due to the low speeds and lack of priority, motorists are generally discouraged from using these areas.
Unlike neighbourhood greenways, pedestrians are also included and thus shared zones have a particular legal status that may be better understood by motorists.
Interested but concerned cyclists are likely to feel safe given that pedestrians are also mixing with motor traffic in these zones.
The ambiguity and negotiation involved with shared zones that have high volumes of pedestrians may not suit enthused and confident cyclists who prefer minimal delays.
There are European examples of very high volume shared zones that work well for driving and walking, but they do not work well for cycling where traffic is congested because cyclists would prefer to travel faster than motor vehicles in this case, but do not have the available space to do so safely.
Shared zones are well-suited for intensely developed shopping streets or town centres. They are a useful component for a cycle route/network aimed at interested but concerned cyclists, but confident cyclists may prefer to retain right of way.
A sealed shoulder comprises space and an appropriate surface for cycling outside the main traffic lane, typically along the edge of an un-kerbed road. It is generally used in rural areas.
Widened shoulders benefit all road users, due to safety benefits and maintenance savings.
Much safer than without shoulders.
Relatively cheap to mark and maintain.
May be less controversial than cycle lanes in politically charged situations where ‘bikelash’ is experienced.
While Transport Agency policy is to maintain the sealed shoulder width across new structures and at passing lanes, many existing locations may remain where sealed shoulders narrow at bridges, terrain constraints, or at intersections with turn lanes. Generally, motorists travel at high speeds along roads with sealed shoulders, so people cycling are at risk in situations where the shoulder narrows or disappears.
Unless marked with no-stopping lines, sealed shoulders may be used for car parking, thus requiring cyclists to go around them.
Sealed shoulders are sometimes made of lower-quality pavements (or haven’t been smoothed by motor traffic), which are less suitable for bicycles.
If suitable maintenance is not undertaken, gravel and debris may build up on shoulders and diminish their suitability for cycling.
Sealed shoulders are beneficial to enthused and confident, and strong and fearless cyclists, particularly along high-speed rural roads. They should be wide enough, smooth, continuous and debris-free to encourage cyclists to use them.
On high-speed rural roads, interested but concerned cyclists may be very uncomfortable and require full separation from motor traffic – which is also proven to be safer than shoulders.
Sealed shoulder width should be maintained at passing lanes, and across structures.
These facilities, painted onto the roadway, are preferred by enthused and confident cyclists on most roads. The majority of interested but concerned are comfortable riding in cycle lanes at modest volumes and speeds. However, as traffic volumes, traffic speeds and provision/use of adjacent parking increase, cycle lanes become increasingly uncomfortable. On main roads, interested but concerned cyclists have a dominant preference for physical separation.
Cycle lanes may be either in a kerbside position or adjacent to parking. Contra-flow cycle lanes can also be provided to give permeability advantages to people who cycle. Painted buffers may be used between the cycle lane and the general traffic lane, and/or between the cycle lane and parking.
These are cycle lanes marked beside a kerb. The markings comprise an edge line and cycle symbols at regular intervals. Coloured surfacing, no-stopping markings, and/or cycle lane signage may also be used where appropriate.
If adequately marked with cycle symbols and no-stopping lines, all road users are likely to recognise them as cycle lanes and expect to find people cycling there.
They provide a degree of separation between motor traffic and cyclists.
Early New Zealand studies of safety benefits showed a safety improvement of about 10% resulted from the narrow cycle lanes being built at the time. A more recent study of lanes built to current standards,Parsons and Koorey (2013)(external link)found overall a 23% reduction in cycle crashes following the introduction of cycle lanes, and with the absence of parking, kerbside lanes are safer still. They provide a similar safety benefit for crossing pedestrians, and overall have demonstrated a safer driving environment as well. So a safety win-win all round. They make people on bikes more predictable.
As a simple rule of thumb, a network of adequate cycle lanes typically doubles the amount of cycling in an area, compared to no provision.
Cycle lanes are a very low-cost treatment (assuming that no pavement/kerb construction is required), so provide exceptional value for money.
Additional separators (eg flexiposts, Riley kerbs) may provide enough perceived separation for interested but concerned users to be satisfied at higher traffic volumes.
The lack of kerbside parking associated with kerbside cycle lanes improves visibility for drivers exiting driveways to see other vehicles and cyclists. This can improve safety for all traffic, especially on busier roads, and improves safety perceptions of the interested but concerned group (Dill and McNeil (2012).
This facility restricts car parking, which can influence some public resistance to their implementation.
If not marked with no-stopping lines and/or sufficient cycle symbols, motorists may (unwittingly or otherwise) park on cycle lanes, despite it being illegal to do so.
Unless swept regularly, debris from the adjacent traffic lanes will accumulate in the cycle lane.
They may not provide enough comfort for most interested but concerned cyclists at higher traffic speeds and volumes.
As long as sufficient car parking can be provided elsewhere, kerbside cycle lanes are the favoured on-road facility for providing a suitable level of comfort for enthused and confident cyclists and may also be suitable for a large proportion of interested but concerned cyclists (Dill, 2012).
Cycle lanes are preferred at the kerbside rather than adjacent to parked cars, so that cyclists can avoid being hit by opening car doors and pedestrians about to cross the road are not hidden from view by parked cars.
A ‘part time cycle lane’ (eg a cycle lane that is only designated during daily traffic peaks) is not recommended and not provided for in the Traffic Control Devices Rule 2004. Generally, a wide traffic lane or clearway next to parking would be recommended instead of a ‘part-time cycle lane’.
Bus stops may be regularly located at the kerb side, which interrupts the cycle lane and requires cyclists to go around buses and into the traffic lane. When bus volumes are high or the bus stops involve timing points (ie where buses are likely to stop for longer periods) consider either indented bus bays or cycle bypasses behind the bus stop.
If space permits, provide a painted buffer between the cycle lane and the general traffic lane.
Cycle lanes comprising an edge line and regularly spaced cycle symbols can be provided next to marked parallel parking or angle parking with a suitable buffer space.
This facility type is installed without requiring parking removal and increases drivers’ ease of parking, and entering and leaving parked vehicles.
Cycle lanes provide a ‘safety buffer’ and effectively reduce the road-crossing distance for pedestrians, with demonstrated crash reduction for pedestrians.
They generally result in narrower lanes, which can reduce traffic speeds (Fowler and Koorey, 2006) and encourage a more orderly and predictable traffic flow.
A significant roadway width is required (generally these cycle lanes must be wider than kerbside cycle lanes to allow for car doors opening).
People on bikes may still be hit by an opening car door when cycling in a cycle lane next to parking, particularly if a narrow lane is provided.
Angle parking is not suitable next to a cycle lane unless there is extra clearance for parking manoeuvres. Note that the angle of the parking influences the clearance required, and reverse-in angle parking may be appropriate in some situations, but is not common yet in New Zealand.
Where the provision of on-street parking is appropriate, and parking turnover rates are not too high, and there is enough space to add a cycle lane next to parking, this is likely to be an appropriate choice of on-road facility that provides a suitable level of comfort for enthused and confident cyclists, and most interested but concerned will be comfortable where traffic speeds are controlled and volume is not high.
It may not be appropriate to provide a cycle lane next to on-street parking with a short time restriction and a high occupancy/turnover rate as this situation increases the risk of a cyclist encountering (and therefore being hit by) a vehicle manoeuvring into or out of a parking space.
Kerbs protruding out the full width of the parking bay should be constructed at intervals (effectively creating parking bays) to discourage vehicles travelling over unoccupied parking spaces.
Provide a painted buffer between the parking lane and cycle lane, so that people avoid cycling in the dangerous ‘dooring’ zone, where they are at risk of being hit by opening car doors. If extra space is available, a secondary painted buffer could be marked between the cycle lane and the general traffic lane, but this is not to be prioritised over the dooring zone buffer.
Contra-flow cycle lanes
Contra-flow cycle lanes allow cycling against the normal direction of travel in an otherwise one-way street. They have the same features as traditional cycle lanes and can be implemented within the current rules, using local bylaws, assuming they are located so that cyclists ride in the normal position on the left side of the road.
Contra-flow lanes contribute to the network permeability for cycling, giving cyclists advantages over motorists and enabling them to avoid other routes that are less direct or less safe.
In low-volume streets, it may not be necessary to remove parking from the driver’s right side of the road.
Other road users, including pedestrians, may not expect people to be cycling in the opposite direction to other traffic. On major roads, contra-flow lanes preclude parking on the cyclist’s side of the road.
Contra-flow lanes could be created from existing two-way streets. However this would introduce network disadvantages for existing motor traffic.
Contra-flow cycle lanes could be a useful tool in one-way streets, where people on bicycles might otherwise be forced to divert along indirect or less safe routes.
They require consultation to be included in a road controlling authority’s traffic control bylaw.
It may be necessary to consider different forms of provision where contra-flow cycling is involved - see also the design guidance on provision for contra-flow cycling.
On major roads, contra-flow cycling should only be accommodated within a separated cycleway.
In low-volume streets, a contra-flow cycling lane can be provided, or a less formal treatment involving signs and pavement markings might be suitable.
Intersection layouts must support this facility, particularly at start and end points, at busy driveways, and at side road intersections.
For the purpose of this guide, the term ‘separated cycleway’ refers to a facility exclusively for cycling that involves some form of physical separation from motor traffic, whether this is a physical barrier or suitable degree of horizontal separation by grass or similar surface, or posts. Separated cycleways are generally situated adjacent to the roadway, within the road reserve; they may be located adjacent to a live traffic lane, or a parking lane. There is some potential for overlap between ‘separated cycleways’ and ‘exclusive cycle paths’ (see below).
There are several key aspects to consider when planning and designing separated cycleways:
The advantages, disadvantages and recommendations for separated cycleway implementation are discussed after these aspects.
Separated cycleways may be separated from the general traffic through use of horizontal and/or vertical separation elements. Some possible separation styles include:
a cycleway at roadway level separated horizontally from the general traffic (or a parking lane) by:
a traffic island or raised kerbs and a painted buffer, or
a painted buffer with bollards, flexiposts or other vertical elements
a cycleway at mid-height between the roadway and the footpath, where the kerbs therefore separate the cycleway vertically from both the roadway and the footpath (this is known as a ‘Danish’ or ‘Copenhagen’ cycleway)
a cycleway at footpath level (ie with the kerb providing a vertical separation element), possibly also with a grass berm or tiled area providing some horizontal separation from the roadway (and/or footpath).
The different separation methods offer different levels of actual and perceived safety. Unlike a concrete kerb or island, flexiposts will not physically prevent vehicles from driving into the cycleway, but they do improve visibility of the cycleway (and therefore reduce the risk of motorists inadvertently crossing into it). Flexiposts are generally perceived as safe by interested but concerned cyclists; people in a US study that looked at different separation methods gave a higher comfort rating to facilities with flexiposts and a 2–3 foot (0.6–0.9 metre) buffer than to facilities with a solid concrete separator (NITC, 2014).
Note that parked vehicles should not be considered the sole form of physical separation; a physical element is required to prevent vehicles from driving into the separated cycleway and a horizontal element is required to prevent car doors interfering with people cycling. Furthermore, the presence of parked vehicles can limit intervisibility between drivers exiting a driveway or side-road and those already on the road, or between drivers turning into a driveway or side-road and cyclists on the protected cycleway. While a solid line of parked vehicles may result in problems at driveways, a few vehicles parked intermittently along the road may cause less of an intervisibility issue.
Separation from pedestrians
Protected cycleways are intended to be exclusively for cycling, however pedestrians often take advantage of the extra space and/or physical protection of a cycleway to use it as additional walking space. This may be a reflection on the level of provision for pedestrians; if footpaths are of insufficient width, poor quality or less-direct, pedestrians may well prefer to walk in the cycleway. Furthermore, if the site layout is poorly designed, pedestrians may even be oblivious to the distinction between the cycleway and the footpath. Similarly, if cycleways are poorly designed or inadequately delineated, people may cycle on the footpath, either by choice or inadvertently.
Separated cycleways can be either one-way (including in the contraflow direction) or two-way. Two-way cycleways need to be wider than one-way cycleways
Contraflow and two-way facilities require careful design due to the risks associated with motorists not expecting cyclists travelling in the contraflow direction. If a contraflow facility is considered, the risks to cyclists at driveways and side streets along the route should be compared to the risks of alternative options such as one-way facilities or off-road paths. For more detail, see the Design guidance section on separated cycleways.
Although separated cycleways are a form of providing for cycling between intersections, the implications of their application at intersections require particular consideration. Separated cycleways improve safety between intersections and can attract people with less cycling experience. However, it is more difficult to provide physical or temporal separation suitable for these cyclists at intersections, side roads and driveways, which can lead to an increase in the risk of crashes in these locations.
In Europe, it has been shown that cycleways at footpath level are less safe at intersections for cyclists than on-road facilities. For this reason best European practice requires cycleways to return to the roadway as cycle lanes before intersections.
Temporal separation for people using separated cycleways can be implemented at intersections by using specific signals for cycles. However, if operation is based on temporal separation, this will result in a decreased proportion of the green-time available to cyclists and thus an increase in delay. It will also increase the delay to all other users. This operation can reduce safety if people cycling are reluctant to stop at a red cycle light whilst adjacent through traffic has a green light.
Under current New Zealand traffic law, physically excluding general traffic from the separated cycleway results in it no longer being considered part of the ‘roadway’, even if it has been constructed at roadway level on what was formerly defined as roadway. This means that cyclists who enter the roadway at intersections are required to give way to all vehicles, even in the case where a person is cycling straight ahead and the vehicle driver is turning. This ambiguity can lead to confusion and result in crashes; it also results in delay for cyclists, which can be a deterrent, particularly for the ‘enthused and confident’ and ‘strong and fearless’.
Advantages of separated cycleways
Separated cycleways provide a high degree of separation between motor vehicles and cyclists in locations between intersections, which gives interested but concerned cyclists a high level of perceived safety and thus attracts higher volumes of cyclists.
They also have potential to attract a large proportion of enthused and confident cyclists.
Contraflow or two-way cycleways may be used to give people cycling advantages over motor traffic in terms of permeability and connectivity; this depends on the facility’s location within the network and with respect to key locations.
A variety of separation methods are available. Vertical separation styles such as Danish cycleways provide a form of physical separation from motor traffic without requiring the same overall width that horizontally separated cycleways require. Some options can be implemented in temporary form relatively inexpensively (such as using paint and flexiposts) to enable trial monitoring.
Disadvantages of separated cycleways
Separated cycleways are more expensive and require a greater width than cycle lanes, the extent to which depends on the type of separation employed.
Between intersections, the benefits of separated cycleways alongside a road can be reduced by:
inadequate clearance for visibility at driveways, especially if there is a high parking density where parking is provided between the cycleway and the general traffic lanes
frequent or busy driveways
inadequate clearance from opening doors of parked vehicles
bus passengers boarding from and alighting to the cycleway can block the way for people cycling
poor bus-stop design may result in street furniture (shelters, benches, signs etc) reducing the available width for cycling
pedestrians encroaching on the cycleway when the footpath is congested or a less appealing option, or while waiting to cross
people placing rubbish or recycling bins on the path for collection
drivers of motor vehicles parking or driving in the protected cycleway.
People on bicycles turning right from a protected cycleway adjacent to the roadway have to cross the whole traffic stream in one manoeuvre, whereas from a cycle lane they can first merge across to the centre. This means that the right turn from a protected cycleway might result in more delay for users (however, if it is adequately accommodated, eg through hook turn provision, it may be safer).
Installing separated cycle facilities can result in a higher crash rate at intersections, due to the increased numbers of less experienced cyclists and the difficulties of providing temporal or spatial separation at intersections.
Temporal separation often used in conjunction with separated cycleways at signalised intersections generally results in increased delay for cyclists and other users, which can increase non-compliance and therefore increase safety risks.
There is current legal ambiguity relating to the give way requirements for separated cycleways at intersections.
Two-way facilities are especially hazardous at side roads and driveways as motorists often don’t expect cyclists to be approaching from the ‘wrong’ direction (ie opposite to that of the closest traffic lane on the road adjacent to the cycleway). Best European practice discourages having two-way cycle paths alongside roads with access from driveways and side roads.
Specialised maintenance equipment may be required to sweep and clean inside a narrow separated cycleway.
Recommendations for separated cycleway implementation
Use separated cycleways on busy routes to encourage more interested but concerned cyclists, but beware of the increased complications and safety risks at intersections and driveways.
Restrict parking in the areas immediately either side of major driveways or side-roads.
At intersections, consider whether a separated cycleway should re-join the road, be provided with temporal separation or deviate to a crossing at a non-intersection location.
If a two-way or contra-flow separated cycleway is considered, it is important to consider the risks of driveways and intersections along the proposed alignment in comparison with other facility options (e.g. having a one-way separated cycleway on each side of the road). The Separated Cycleway Options Tool [XLSX, 38 KB] (SCOT) is an interim evaluation tool available to assist in this comparison, and planners should also be aware of the design criteria presented in the Traffic control devices manualparts 4 and 5 (NZ Transport Agency, 2015a and 2015b).
Treatment of two-way or contraflow separated cycleways across intersections or side streets must be carefully considered; these facilities are more likely to require signalised crossings than standard one-way separated cycleways or cycle lanes.
Provide suitable treatments at bus stops that avoid conflict between people cycling and boarding/alighting/waiting bus patrons. See for example the guidance given on bus stops in the Irish National cycle manual(external link).
Ensure that suitable provision for pedestrians exists and users can distinguish between the respective facilities for cycling and walking. Where a high pedestrian crossing demand across the cycleway is likely, ensure the separation device is wide enough for pedestrians to wait before crossing the road, so they don’t queue within the cycleway itself.
A shared path is shared by people cycling and walking (which includes people using small wheeled recreational devices, wheelchairs, mobility scooters and pushchairs). A shared path may become a ‘multi-use path’ if it includes additional users, for example horse riders. There are three ways that this combination of users can be accommodated:
no formal separation or segregation of modes
directional separation – generally by non-physical methods, eg a painted centreline, arrows and behavioural messages (such as ‘keep left’)
segregation of modes – by non-physical methods, eg a painted centreline and pedestrian/cycle symbols, which are more advisory than prescriptive, and allow for occasional ‘digressions’ where people use the other path (stricter separation would result in an exclusive cycle path and a footpath).
The decision as to which type of path to provide depends on the respective user volumes, whether or not the paths experience tidal flows and the particular needs of the cyclists riding on them. In general, separation by direction of travel is the preferred method. The Design guidance section provides guidance on widths of shared paths.
In terms of location with respect to the road network, a shared path may be adjacent to a road (similar to separated cycleways), or completely separate from roads (similar to cycle-only paths). Therefore, the term ‘path’ in this application is broader than its use in the term ‘cycle path’.
Note also that a shared path may not be limited to providing simply for two-way travel, but may be more of an ‘area’ that accommodates cyclists and pedestrians coming and going from multiple locations, with a large number of possible trajectories.
On a steep street, it may be appropriate to have a shared path that accommodates uphill cycling only. People cycling downhill can do so on the carriageway, with a low speed differential between them and motor traffic, whereas people cycling uphill will be travelling at a similar speed to pedestrians. This treatment should be avoided if the shared path location and adjacent land use mean that people are likely to want to cycle downhill on the shared path (eg rather than have to cross the road to cycle downhill on the carriageway).
Shared paths can be useful to people travelling by cycle as well as those walking.
Where an existing footpath can be adapted or widened to form a shared path this can be beneficial to interested but concerned cyclists in particular.
Providing directional separation improves predictability for users, improves their behaviour, and makes passing and overtaking more straightforward.
Providing busy shared paths with non-physical means of segregating pedestrians and cyclists can be advantageous over providing two adjacent exclusive paths as this allows users to overlap into the adjacent path if necessary. This depends largely on the types of cyclist involved; enthused and confident cyclists are more likely to get irritated if groups of pedestrians spill over onto the cycling part of the path, whereas interested but concerned cyclists generally travel more slowly.
Conflict between cyclists and pedestrians is common where, for instance, there is a significant volume of cyclists and pedestrians relative to the path width or a mix of recreational walkers and commuting cyclists.
The level of service for cycling can be poor where interference by other path users results in slower speeds. The presence of people cycling can reduce the level of service for pedestrians (especially those with mobility or vision impairments) who feel unnerved when cyclists overtake or pass them. Poor sightlines along the path can also lead to unexpected conflicts.
As for two-way separated cycleways, shared paths adjacent to roads involve hazards for cyclists at driveways, particularly those travelling in the direction opposite to that of traffic on the adjacent lane.
Poorly designed vertical alignments over driveways can cause discomfort, if these occur frequently along a route it will be annoyingly bumpy.
Shared paths are beneficial to a range of path users but need to be managed effectively. They are appropriate where both cyclists and pedestrians need a path, but their numbers are modest. Cycle-only paths are more appropriate if large numbers of cyclists and pedestrians will use them.
It is important that:
the shared path’s design (including width, sight distance and markings) is suitable for its use and demand
authorities monitor demand and widen paths when required
the connections between path, road and driveways are carefully considered
where cycling is allowed in both directions, a centre line should ideally be marked
where steep gradients are involved, cycling in the downhill direction should be accommodated elsewhere than the shared path, unless it is very light.
Trails are generally unsealed and in natural surroundings, they may be either shared with pedestrians or for the exclusive use of cyclists – the factors relating to exclusive or shared paths and suitable widths should therefore also be accounted for. Unsealed trails are acceptable to some people cycling in some circumstances.
Note that the guidance here could also extend to unsealed low-volume roads, if the factors relating to mixed traffic situations, discussed in Shared roadways above, are also taken into account.
The initial cost of establishing an unsealed facility is relatively low, and they may be sealed at a later date (eg after the route has proved itself popular).
Unsealed facilities help in integrating cycling with environmentally sensitive locations.
Unsealed trails in natural locations can attract use due to their aesthetic qualities. Walkers and runners may also prefer the softer surface.
In forested areas, some shelter from wind and rain is available.
Unsealed facilities can be hazardous, depending on gradient, crossfall and surface media.
They also require regular maintenance.
Trails with an unsealed surface may be difficult to use in wet weather.
Unsealed surfaces are not suitable for people on bicycles with narrow tyres (eg on-road sports cyclists), therefore not suitable for attracting users from less safe roads.
Unsealed surfaces are not suitable for mobility-impaired pedestrians (eg those who use wheelchairs, mobility scooters, walking frames/sticks, or who are more prone to trips and falls on uneven surfaces.
In general, the surface must be well compacted and drained. The surface medium should be capable of self-repair.
Cycle-only paths are available for the exclusive use of cyclists and are therefore different to shared paths which include pedestrians (see Shared paths). For the purpose of this guide, the term ‘cycle path’ refers to a facility that is not adjacent to a road and therefore covers a route not provided for by the road network. They may therefore be used to offer cyclists some advantage over motorists, for example by providing a cycle route through a park that motorists have to drive around.
As mentioned above, there may be some overlap between ‘separated cycleways’ and ‘cycle-only paths’. For example, a separated cycleway at footpath level separated from the roadway by a grass berm resembles a cycle path in terms of its physical features; the difference is in terms of proximity to the roadway. A separated cycleway may therefore deviate and join into/become a cycle path. Cycle-only paths isolated from the roadway are rare in New Zealand, but are used overseas and should be considered in the cycle network toolkit.
People using cycle-only paths can generally proceed without delays caused by, or in conflict with, other path users. This facility can offer a higher level of service for cycling compared with a shared path.
Cycle paths are located away from the carriageway and are therefore free from risk of crashes with motor vehicles and offer aesthetical benefits compared to facilities on or adjacent to the road.
Pedestrians sometimes use cycle-only paths when doing so would be more convenient, such as when their own facilities are comparatively indirect, of poor quality or congested.
Depending on user volumes, it may not be financially advantageous to build exclusive cycle paths and footpaths rather than shared paths.
Cycle-only paths are preferred over shared paths where they are likely to be used by a significant volume of people travelling by cycle.
Care is required to ensure pedestrians can be well accommodated elsewhere and that it is obvious to pedestrians not to use the cycle facility.