Do you know the minimum acceptable width of a cycle lane? We do*

In case it has passed you by, Portsmouth is the most dangerous place to cycle in the whole of Great Britain, outside of London***

Here at PCF, we campaign for improved infrastructure and whenever we do, we consider available guidance and standards provided by the Government and other leading voices, like sustainable transport charity; Sustrans, and Wheels for Wellbeing.

It’s recognised that some of this guidance is out of date, but some of it is better and there is a push within the Department for Transport to improve it.

You can find the Government guidance here (in Section 3 ‘Infrastructure and traffic signs’) including Local Transport Note 02/08 (LTN 02/08) which is now pretty out of touch – you can tell this by the photo on the front cover showing “good cycling facilities” like this one right here on a major road next to a truck:

LTN 02/08 cover
LTN 02/08 cover

Far better is Interim Advice Note 195/16 (IAN 195/16) which  relates to cycling facilities on the strategic road network or SRN (basically A roads). This one was written by some leading cycling experts in transport consultancy and charities – it’s still not perfect though as it only covers the SRN.

We’ve also included a link to the Sustrans Handbook for Cycle Friendly Design here which goes into more detail on proving good facilities for everyone, including people using adapted bikes and cargo bikes.  Wheels for Wellbeing also have this cracking guide for providing for all-inclusive cycling.  Unfortunately neither of these have legal standing unless the Local Planning Authority (Portsmouth City Council) decides to adopt them as Supplementary Planning Documents.

Last but not least, we use tools like the Cycling Level of Service assessment which you can find here. Whilst not a legally binding document; it’s great for assessing existing infrastructure and highlighting what needs to be improved.  Some bits need a bit of specialist knowledge, but you don’t have to use it all. Two of the most useful bits are as follows:

  • Any “nearside lane in range 3.2m to 4.0m” is a critical fail for people on bikes as it encourages the dreaded close pass.
  • Cycle lanes <1.5m alongside parking/loading with no buffer are also critical fails as they encourage dooring incidents

We use these documents to help us interpret PCC’s scheme designs, and to challenge them if they present or deliver something substandard (cough, Hope Street)

*”Cycle lanes should be 2 metres wide on busy roads, or where traffic is travelling in excess of 40 mph**. A minimum width of 1.5 metres may be generally acceptable on roads with a 30 mph limit. For cycle feeder lanes to advanced stop line arrangements, a minimum width of 1.2m may be acceptable. Cycle lanes less than 1.2 metres wide cannot easily accommodate tricycles or child­carrying cycle trailers wholly within the lane.”  (Para 7.4.2. LTN 2/08)

** There is updated guidance in IAN 195/16 for the Strategic Road Network on this point

***STATS19 official Government data on personal injury road accidents, vehicles and casualties involved.