West Midland Combined Authority - Cycle Design Guidance

Notes following non-technical training day held 4/6/18 at Transport for West Midlands offices, Summer Lane, Birmingham.

This was one of four sessions held in the West Midlands. I got to go on this one as I am on the Bike West Midland Network mailing list.

The instructor was Adrian Lord of Phil Jones Associates, a transport planning consultancy with expertise in cycling who prepared the Guidance document.

(The document itself is available from the TfWM website. Caution - it is nearly 16 MB. If you want to get a flavour the Light Rail Supplement is much smaller and might be useful to look at in our dealings over the Metro extension to the rail station)

Ironically, AL was late, his planned train having been cancelled and having to swap to car.

Possibly for this reason we didn't get the normal round of introductions or attendance sheet passed round so I don't have a record of who was there. Many were TfWM or WMCA including Mitch Robertson (Robinson?), there was someone from CRT (George Horace?) plus a few 'cycling' bods. Twelve altogether including AL.

Points made by AL:

The document is guidance, not mandatory.

It is how to do something, not why it should be done.

Painted (on-road) lanes don't do much for safety but they will encourage the 'near market'; then lanes with greater segregation (eg kerbs) are then politically feasible. In London the Cycle Highways had a lag from 'build' to 'use' of about 3 years.

Town centres are having to re-invent themselves due to the fall in retail; making a more pleasant environment is valuable.

Thinking is moving away from 'opportunity lead' (ie here's a canal, lets upgrade the towpath) to 'demand lead' (ie people want to go here). This requires data from various sources such as census and travel plans.

250/400 m spacing of links, dependent on geography.

Opening up existing bus lanes for cycling apparently does not attract people new to cycling. Need a separate cycle lane or modify to avoid 'sweet spot' width (1)

No hard data available for what design works best under different conditions for cycle lanes having priority across side roads.

A review conducted of 'light separation' concluded that some sort of bollard is required (in addition to whatever kerb is provided).

Stopping/starting at give ways is the equivalent effort of cycling 200m (2)

There is a lot more use now of mixed level lanes ie step down from footway to cycleway to road.

Watch where the cyclists go in any given layout to form an idea of where the facility needs to be provided (this was amply demonstrated when we went out to look at a couple of local junctions)


(1) Under 3m (too narrow to allow bus to overtake unless it moves out of lane) or over 4m (bus can overtake safely)
(2) ie if you have to give way every 200m then the journey will feel twice as long.


M.Jenkins 6/6/18

wow logo