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Description

Contra-flow cycle provision allows people to cycle on one-way streets in the opposing direction. These treatments help to provide improved network permeability and connectivity for cycling (relative to motor vehicles), either on existing one-way streets or those planned to be converted from two-way to one-way. 

The treatments to provide for contra-flow cycling may involve physical separation (ie separated cycleways), separately marked on-road facilities (painted cycle lanes), or signage only (shared zones).  It is important to consider the level of separation most appropriate for the situation. 

  • Legal considerations

    Other than a local bylaw change controlling the allowed and prohibited movements, no legislative impediment has been identified to introducing contra-flow cycleway sections in New Zealand.

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  • Concept design considerations

    The following table from France discusses what type of contra-flow cycle provision to consider in different road and traffic situations:

    Contra-flow cycle facility decision-making table (CERTU 2012)

    Source: CERTU (2012). Introducing counterflow cycling: A methodological and practical guide, CERTU (Centre for the Study of Urban Planning, Transport and Public Facilities), France, 64pp.  Unfortunately, the English version of this guide is no longer available for purchase, but the French version can be found at https://www.cerema.fr/fr/centre-ressources/boutique/mise-double-sens-cyclable(external link)

    Greater levels of separation are recommended as traffic volumes and speeds increase, from no markings (N), to painted symbols (NSM), painted lines (SM) and physical separators (S). The guidance also acknowledges the practical difficulty of allowing contra-flow cycling as road widths get narrower (relatively few New Zealand roads would fall into the “below” 5m categories, which in practice means <9m carriageway width if the available space between parked cars either side was considered).

    The above information is taken from a conference paper on “Developing Options for Contra-flow Cycleways(external link)” (Koorey et al, 2017), which also details the process undertaken to determine feasible options for contra-flow cycleways at three locations in Auckland.  The options were site-specific and encompassed a range of treatments from fully separated cycleways, to on-road marked indications.  Based on this, feasible options for contra-flow cycling provision in New Zealand may include:

    • Separated cycleway or shared path
    • Marked contra-flow cycle lane
    • End-treatment signage only (although, in the short-term, a more extensive treatment is advised).

    Site-specific factors to consider include:

    • Type and location of parking – in particular, be cautious of high-turnover parking and reverse-out angle parking.
    • Driveways – see the interim guidance note on separated cycleways at side roads and driveways [PDF, 1.8 MB], especially concerning contra-flow cycling.
    • Traffic volumes and available width – there must be sufficient opportunity, in terms of space and time, for vehicles and oncoming cyclists to pass each other.
    • Interactions with pedestrians – if considering a shared path for contra-flow movement.
    • Treatments at the start and end of the facility – are all required movements supported and clear to users?
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  • Detailed design considerations

    Signs

    Motorists and cyclists alike need some indication of the presence of contra-flow cycling. At the end where traffic enters, an AU42 sign(external link) informing of oncoming cyclists may be required (see figure below) unless completely separated, while at the other end a NO ENTRY sign requires an EXCEPT CYCLES supplementary plate. 

    If there are any side roads or major accesses along the street, a NO LEFT/RIGHT TURN sign with an Except Cycles supplementary plate is the preferred approach.

    Markings

    For other contra-flow facilities separated by markings or physical separators, standard cycle lane symbols can be used.  At street ends, side-roads, and other major accesses, including an arrow with the cycle symbol (or adding the text “ONLY”) will help to reduce any confusion. 

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