Mobility and Transport

Clean transport, Urban transport

Bicycle Policy Audit (BYPAD)

Bicycle Policy Audit (BYPAD)

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Overview and key features

BYPAD stands for Bicycle Policy Audit and is a process enabling towns, cities and regions to evaluate and improve the quality of their cycling policy. It is an instrument paving the way for developing a detailed cycling strategy or plan. BYPAD is a quality process based on international best practice of applied measures, structures and policies in local cycling development policy.

BYPAD assesses the quality of a cycling development policy based on a strength and weakness approach. It brings together politicians, planners and users – cyclists - to jointly define the state of play of their city’s cycling situation. Moreover, towns, cities or regions receive concrete advice on how to improve their cycling policies. The two main outputs are detailed knowledge on the state of play of cycling as well as an action plan dedicated to improving cycling policies.

BYPAD looks back at more than 200 cases across cities EU-wide, with audits taking place each year.

Function and objectives - the BYPAD approach

BYPAD makes use of the idea of total quality management[1] being a well-established concept for economic operators. It transfers the approach to cycling policy to strengthen the use and conditions for cycling. One of the strengths of BYPAD is its user-centric approach and consensus building.

Stakeholders from political, administrative and private sector engage in the process to contribute towards the improvement of the cycling policy quality. BYPAD looks at local and regional cycling policy as a dynamic process. It investigates the results of cycling policy and how the actual process of developing and delivering cycling policies is at work in the specific political and administrative structures. For this, BYPAD makes use of nine cycling policy modules and assesses their quality one by one. Each module is reviewed and scored using a four-stage development scale starting with “ad-hoc-oriented approaches” to cycling policy towards “integrated approaches”. The results of all nine modules establish the quality level of the local or regional cycling policy. Using the four-stage development scale, development goals for each module are set to perform improvements to cycling policy and its delivery in the BYPAD action plan.

BYPAD modules (Source: BYPAD)                                            

BYPAD four-stage development scale (Source: BYPAD)

Performance – BYPAD in action

At the centre of the BYPAD process is an evaluation group supported and guided by an external supervisor – the BYPAD auditor. The group performs the assessment of the status quo and jointly identifies the modules where improvement is most necessary and possible. Group members include those with political responsibilities, administrative staff and other stakeholders, such as cycling interest groups, other traffic interests or individuals representing the user’s point of view.

The audit process is as follows:

  1. Individual questionnaire-based assessment of the local situation by each group member and local site visit of group members and the BYPAD auditor
  2. Discussion on the respective views of the group members in the first meeting (called confrontation and consensus meeting) resulting in a joint assessment for each module and the global quality of cycling policy by the four-stage development scale.
  3. Elaboration of an interim report by the external supervisor concentrating on the results of the first meeting and giving input to strengths and weaknesses of the current cycling policy.
  4. Creation of the BYPAD action plan by the evaluation group in a second meeting defining the objectives for cycling policy in the coming years, based on the interim report.
  5. Finalisation of the BYPAD Quality Plan by the external supervisor for integration to the current cycling policy.

The external supervisor’s role is to moderate the process, provide input on examples where necessary and to produce the two main results in report format. Right at the start, the supervisor collects inputs on the existing situation and requires the respective local or regional administration to build a good understanding of the audit case.  BYPAD provides a list of certified supervisors, the BYPAD auditors, at its website covering countries EU-wide and beyond. Cities and regions completing a BYPAD audit receive a certificate and label from the supervisor on their endeavours to improve their cycling policy quality.

Examples from city case studies involved in the preparation of this guidance showcase the structural impact BYPAD can take: In the case of Gdansk, the active mobility department of the City of Gdansk was established as a result of a BYPAD audit. Similarly, the Bicycle Officer of Bregenz was installed as an objective from an BYPAD audit.

Complementary measures

As a policy audit integrating evaluation and action planning, BYPAD is a bicycle development strategy at a global level integrating a bicycle steering group. It is of less concrete nature than classical bicycle development strategies though more directed at systematic improvements and setting “obvious” needed or positive measures. As a policy tool, it refers to all cycling measures presented.

Parameters of success or failure

Several issues need to be considered by a town, city or region during a BYPAD process:

  • Site Visit: It is beneficial to be realistic in the choice of situations and to include both problems and challenges related to cycle traffic, as well as good solutions. The site visit should be undertaken by the BYPAD auditor and three members of the evaluation group to safeguard including views from the different members already before the confrontation and consensus meeting.
  • Questionnaire: Authorities should be realistic when completing the self-assessment, avoiding overestimating the quality of their bicycle policy. This eases the work to get to a joint assessment result of the nine modules and the overall cycling policy.
  • Evaluation group: High level staff involvement is crucial for both, the political responsible person as well as responsible administrative unit. From the user group side, a good mix of users representing not only bicycle associations, but as well other traffic providers or interest groups and individual users is beneficial. However, this group needs to be small enough to ensure good working conditions.
  • Meetings: Albeit the process template plans for two larger meetings, cities can deviate from this structure and tailor the process to their needs. Some cities prefer to have more, but shorter meetings.

Overall, the expectations of a town, city or region regarding the results of the BYPAD audit need to be clear. BYPAD results in an assessment of the current quality of cycling policy and the BYPAD action plan. The latter should not be regarded as a full and detailed bicycle development strategy, rather it directs the city to systematic and structural improvements for cycling policy as well as to directly necessary, obvious or easy to implement actions, not needing previous detailed assessments to point out their benefits.

Further information

To engage with BYPAD, simply contact an auditor or the BYPAD Secretariat.

The BYPAD website www.bypad.org provides further information alongside the development of the BYPAD history since its creation.

Specifically interesting reading is provided by the brochure “BYPAD Cycling – the European approach” describing the audit process and choice of the methodology used as well as reviewing BYPAD achievements and lessons learnt from the year 2008. A documentation on bicycle use and influencing factors as well as a choice of portraits if BYPAD cities is annexed to the brochure


[1] It applies methods of quality management to improve products and services, optimise processes and increase customer loyalty altogether for a larger market share and better profits. Improvements rely to some extend at benchmarking to learn from other companies (source: BYPAD).