Mobility and Transport

Clean transport, Urban transport

Preparing city cycling strategies and plans

Preparing city cycling strategies and plans

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Cycling Strategies and Plans

Strategies provide a structure for delivering various cycling activities and infrastructure development, typically outlining the policies that the relevant city authorities aim to follow.

Cycling strategies can be developed at the national, regional or city level, and will typically include a medium to long-term vision for cycling. Cities at the initial stage of developing a cycling strategy should consider existing national and/or regional level strategies or plans, when available.

National or regional strategies usually have an emphasis on broad policies and programmes, setting out a general direction for the development of cycling within a country or region. They often refer to the coordination of exchange of good practice, capacity building for local and regional authorities and funding that is available for pilot projects, research, and awareness raising campaigns. National cycling strategies should set out the fiscal and legislative frameworks relating to cycling that have been adopted and may include details such as tax rates and fiscal incentives for commuting by bike. They can also refer to ‘softer’ aspects related to making cities more attractive to people who cycle, such as placemaking. When available, the national or regional strategy should make reference to design standards that have been adopted, although many non-governmental guidance documents are available for practitioners to refer to when designing infrastructure in the absence of regional or national standards.

Local cycling strategies should, therefore, take the national (and regional) strategy frameworks into account when developing city-level policies and proposals for specific cycling measures.

The process of developing a local level cycling strategy will vary but will typically include the following steps:

  • Setting up a steering group or organisational network;
  • Defining an overarching vision or strategy statement;
  • Identification and understanding of target and user groups;
  • Monitoring and determining the baseline situation in the city;
  • Development of local design guidance based on existing regional or national guidance if available; and   
  • Determining the budget required for the implementation of the strategy and the potential sources of funding. 

The content will typically include:

  • An overarching vision or strategy statement;
  • Clearly defined targets for cycling;
  • The baseline level of cycling, modal share, length of cycle paths and other infrastructures;
  • Policies and action plans – including a range of measures, consisting of both the provision of infrastructure and supporting promotional measures such as training and awareness campaigns; 
  • Local design guidance – produced in addition to these policies and action plans; and   
  • The costs associated with the implementation of the strategy and potential sources of funding. 

Local cycling strategies should also be incorporated within other urban mobility / multi-modal strategies or plans at the city level. Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMPs) are being developed in many European cities. SUMPs are designed to tackle transport-related problems in urban areas more efficiently. They have a structured process whereby visions are created, objectives and targets are set, policies and measures are selected, and active communication, monitoring and evaluation are encouraged. Whilst SUMPs are concerned with all modes of urban transport, cycling can make a large contribution to achieving sustainable urban mobility. For further information on SUMPs, see Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMPs) and Cycling

Cycling strategies should also consider the sequence of efforts that will support cities to develop towards champion level. The digram below was prepared by PRESTO and suggests a sequence of cycling development efforts for each cycling stage.

Credit: PRESTO project