Mobility and Transport

Clean transport, Urban transport

Basic quality design principles for cycle infrastructure and networks

Basic quality design principles for cycle infrastructure and networks

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Basic quality design principles for cycle infrastructure and networks

This section focuses on basic quality design principles and recommendations for cycling infrastructure and networks. By the end of 2021, the Commission will issue dedicated guidelines for vulnerable road users (RISM Directive). 

Design guidance and standards for cycling infrastructure have been developed in many Member States and are regularly used by local administrations (see Existing cycle infrastructure quality design guidance (and standards)). However, there are other cities and Member States that are without this type of resource. This guidance therefore presents basic design principles and recommendations for cycling infrastructure that can be used by these cities and Member States. It is intended that these principles and recommendations should complement rather than replace any existing guidance and/or standards.

There are a number of basic design principles that should be adhered to when designing and implementing cycle infrastructure. 

Safety, Directness, Coherence, Attractiveness, and Comfort

These requirements should be considered as objectives by all city types. They can also be used as criteria to assess the quality of cycling infrastructure. Where infrastructure meets these criteria, they are more likely to result in increased use of bicycles.  The principles were first identified by the Dutch design manual, CROW (2007). They have since been updated and/or incorporated in many other cycling infrastructure design standards and guidance publications. The following sections outline the recommended basic quality design principles in more detail. 





Conflicts between principles

It is important to acknowledge potential conflicts between the requirements. As the safety of people cycling is the main concern, this will often be prioritised ahead of other design principles. For example, the directness or coherence of a cycle route may be reduced in order to avoid a busy road or intersection. Priorities will also vary depending on whether a route is considered to be utility or recreational, but safety is always the top priority, for example: 

  • Priority ranking for utility cycle network/route: safety, directness, cohesion, comfort, attractiveness
  • Priority ranking for recreational cycle network/route: safety, attractiveness, cohesion, comfort, directness

It is also important to note that cycle infrastructure differs from infrastructure for pedestrians (or other modes). However, in many countries with low cycle intensity designers tend to treat cyclists as another type of pedestrian, resulting in poor cycling infrastructure quality.

Measure specific guidance

Overall recommendations for infrastructure quality design guidance are provided for the following cycle infrastructure measures:

Where recommendations differ for each type of city (e.g. starter, climber, champion), these have been outlined within the measure factsheets guidance. Detailed technical specifications for the quality design of cycle infrastructure have not been provided at the EU level. Therefore, cities are advised to consult existing design guidance and standards that have been developed within EU Member States.