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Separated cycleways are facilities exclusively for cycling. They involve some form of physical separation from motor traffic and are generally situated on or adjacent to the roadway, usually within the road reserve. The separation may involve horizontal and/or vertical components.

The term ‘separated cycleway’ includes facilities known as: ‘protected cycle lanes’ (Auckland Transport), ‘separated cycle lanes’ (Christchurch City Council), ‘separated bicycle lanes’ (Austroads), ‘buffered bicycle lanes’ (Queensland Transport and Main Roads), and ‘cycle tracks’ (NACTO).

Separated cycleways can be either:

  • one-way (uni-directional) ie cycling in the same direction as adjacent traffic usually on each side of the road; or
  • contra-flow one-way (uni-directional) i.e. cycling in the opposite direction to adjacent traffic, usually on the right side of a one-way street when seen from the traffic perspective; or
  • two-way (bi-directional) ie both directions for cycling accommodated within one facility on one side of the road.

There are a range of methods that can be employed to separate and protect cyclists from motor traffic, each offering different levels of actual safety (ie in terms of crash risk) and perceived safety (ie in terms of people’s subjective evaluations).

Some examples of recently developed separated cycleways in New Zealand are shown in the photos below.

Check whether separated cycleways are a suitable facility for your target users and for the type of road.

  • Legal considerations

    Separated cycleways are not specifically described in the Road User Rule. Under New Zealand traffic law, as separated cycleways physically exclude general traffic they are not considered to be ‘roadway’. This means that at intersections, cyclists using the separated cycleway enter the roadway and are required to give way to all vehicles, which can be contrary to road user expectations.

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  • Detailed design considerations


    Cycle symbols and coloured surfacing within separated cycle facilities are as per cycle lanes.


    There are no currently no specific signs for separated cycle facilities.

    Surfacing, grates and other considerations

    As per cycle lanes. It should be noted that any separation between the cycle facility and the carriageway may impede stormwater flow so will require consideration of drainage.

    Intersections and driveways

    See Intersections for discussion on how to treatment separated cycleways at intersections. An interim design note for design of priority/uncontrolled side roads and driveways is available.

    Pavement design

    Pavement specifications [PDF, 132 KB] for primary cycling routes including cycle-lanes and cycle-paths, shared paths and cycleways, as well as pavement shoulders where cycling demand is high and where a high level of service is desired, have been developed.  For a secondary or minor route in a cycling network, a lower level specification may be appropriate.

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