Mobility and Transport

Clean transport, Urban transport

1.3 Cycle highways

1.3 Cycle highways

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A cycle highway is a high-quality functional cycling route that focuses on encouraging long-distance cycling. It can be made up of cycle lanes, cycle tracks or routes separate from the existing road infrastructure. Variations and alternative names given to cycle highways include superhighways and bicycle roads.

Considerations for applicability

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Level of cycling

The expected level of cycling influences the suitability and scale of a cycle highway. A cycle highway is a large infrastructural undertaking and so high utilisation should be expected to justify the expense. They are most likely to be suited to Champion cities.

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Urban layout/topography

Cycle highways often facilitate longer distance cycling journeys and so steep or indirect sections may discourage cyclists to use the route. Disused railways and canals are often repurposed due to their pre-existing shallow gradients.

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Along popular commuter or student routes, a cycle highway can provide an attractive alternative to other transport modes. As dedicated cycle facilities, cycle highways may also address concerns related to safety for certain population groups, e.g. elderly.

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Finance resources

Cycle highways are expensive. The total cost will vary significantly depending on the length of the route and the type of construction required. The repurposing of disused mobility corridors will be cheaper than the construction of a new cycle path.

Finance resources Costs of cycle highways built as part of the Cycle City Ambition (CCA) programme in the UK range from €0.84 million /km to €1.64 million /km [1].

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Time & human resources

Due to their scale, cycle highways require a significant amount of time and human resources to plan, construct and maintain

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Cycle highways provide mobility corridors that connect regions, residential areas and business districts. They can move a large number of cyclists quickly and comfortably, resulting in improved access.

Note: An overview of the direct and indirect impacts resulting from correctly implemented cycling measures is available in Challenges that cities face and how cycling can address them

In-depth measure analysis, case studies and further guidance