This project investigates the design of safe, attractive and convenient facilities for cyclists, which have not been researched previously, or where current knowledge of their effectiveness is incomplete. It includes an assessment of cycle track crossings of side road junctions, capacity implications of Advanced Stop lines, additional work on vehicle restricted areas, cyclists in with-flow and contra-flow bus lanes and further work on continental roundabout design. The results will be used to provide suitable advice to local authorities, the Highways Agency and other practitioners and professional bodies - through published reports, Traffic Advisory Leaflets, and presentations - on the design and implementation of cycle facilities.
The main aim of this project is to provide suitable advice to local authorities the Highways Agency and other professional bodies on the design and implementation of cycle facilities. It supports the PPG13 objective of promoting alternatives to the private car and encouraging measures to assist people to cycle. It will also inform the development of local transport plan bids to include cycling.
As part of the UG171 Cycle Facilities and Engineering project for the DfT, TRL investigated cycling near road narrowing in a study comprising:
- Consultations with cyclists to ascertain their views on road narrowing features and their experiences of negotiating them in traffic;
- Video survey of sites where feature were installed by highway authorities to assist cyclists in negotiating road narrowings;
- Virtual reality simulations of encounters between drivers and cyclist, allowing the reactions of drivers to be measured under a range of circumstances.
Road narrowings were found to constitute a source of stress to cyclists, particularly when large vehicles were present, although fast traffic and large roundabouts were also thought difficult. Some cyclists avoided narrowings by riding on the footway or selecting alternative routes. The measures to assist cyclists at road narrowings were found to have limited benefit. This included some unexpected effects, such as appearing to encourage more risky behaviour among motorists, including passing closer to cyclists and attempting to overtake cyclists before narrowing.
The virtual reality testing found that despite some gender differences in behaviour, central islands appeared to have a speed reducing effect on motor vehicles. The provision of a simple advisory cycle lane in conjunction with the traffic island appeared to have little significant effect on behaviour. A cycle lane with coloured surfaces was found to be more effective in promoting safer driving behaviour, reinforcing the finding from the video survey.
Drivers recognise that cycling on highways was not always pleasant and that narrowing features contribute to that. In general the study concludes that road narrowings contribute to the sense that parts of the highway network are inimical to cyclists and may contribute towards a reluctance to contemplate cycling among some members of the public.
The study concludes that stress and intimidation of cyclists is an unavoidable result of enforced proximity with motor traffic. Some measures such as speed reduction features and coloured cycle lanes may mitigate the effects of road narrowings, but this research suggests great care is taken in their application.
The study makes a number of detailed recommendations regarding cyclist, cycling facilities and engineering schemes. In particular:
• The provision of a basic cycle lane was not seen as always positive, given that it encouraged motorised vehicles to take advantage of their 'allotted' space with an intimidating effect on cyclist. Coloured surfaces of cycle lanes somewhat appears to counter this effect by the perceived narrowing of the road.
• Width of cycle lanes (1.5) appears to be wholly not present on sites covered by this study, excepting one. Moreover this study recommends where possible for 2m cycle lanes at road narrowings, unless other traffic calming can be introduced to protect cyclists.
• Care to be taken in the provision of warning signs at road narrowings to ensure attention is paid to 'exact' location and 'precise' wording.
• Prior to a scheme being implemented, attention needed to be paid to the composition of traffic using the road the impact on the comfort of cyclists.
• The DfT has recommended that a cycle bypass should be the first option where a narrowing is introduced on a road subject to a speed limit of 30mph (48km/h) or more.
• The main overarching recommendation of this study is that guidance should be given significant emphasis by highway authorities in order to avoid risk and intimidation to cycle users.