Updated: Jun 1, 2022
The manuals that are being reviewed are available on the Bicycle Infrastructure Manuals website for viewing.
Title: London Cycling Design Standards
Publisher & Jurisdiction: Transport for London (TfL), England, United Kingdom
Publication Year: 2014
Page Count: 356
Rating (out of 5 stars)
Innovation – Process ☆☆☆☆☆
Innovation – Design ☆☆☆☆
Document layout & figures ☆☆☆☆☆
Impact Factor / Adoption ☆☆☆☆
Innovation - Process
How is this design manual innovative in terms of processes? Does it include consultation with
users of bicycle infrastructure and also integration of marketing, planning, and design
The attention to detail, citing strategies for implementations and designs from around the world, and consideration of every aspect of cycling as “mass transport” give the reader confidence that this was created by those with cycling experience as well as by transportation and planning professionals. An entire chapter (chapter 2) is devoted to the Tools and Techniques used by TfL in the creation of this document. Topics like Stakeholder Involvement, Levels of Service, Scoring and example assessments, how to develop cycle networks, and incorporating cycling into new development are all discussed in detail. By explaining this part of the process so completely, the reader is able to see just how far reaching cycle planning is as well as the amount of factors that impact the quality of the overall network.
Innovation - Design
What innovative designs are in this manual? More importantly, is this manual promoting designs that are known to be unsafe or uncomfortable for cyclists? Where innovative designs are found, where has these designs been implemented? What will it take to implement these innovative designs within the jurisdiction of the manual?
The LCDS is self described as “Now comprehensively updated to reflect established and emerging best practice[s]”, and does indeed include everything from protected cycle tracks, traffic calming, protected intersections, bicycle parking, cycle friendly streets, signaling/signage, pedestrian accommodations, public transit interactions, and construction.
The level of consideration given to cyclists gives the reader the impression that the bicycle is being treated as a legitimate mass transport vehicle, but the inclusion of genuinely unsafe designs like unprotected lanes and bike boxes highlights an issue with this line of thinking. A person on a bicycle is a vulnerable road user, and increasing the amount of interactions between modes creates an unsafe environment for the vulnerable users. The reader is reminded several times to default to fully segregated cycle lanes/tracks, but exceptions are made when space is limited. This sacrifice of safety by the cyclist shows how the car is still the dominant mode of transport when designing streets.
For every facility in this manual there are examples of existing local implementations, but looking at TfL's cycle route map there are huge sections without any documented infrastructure, and where there are, it is inconsistent or incomplete. There is still a lot of work to do before the cycle network is finished.
Jurisdictional Context & History
Where and when was this manual conceived. What is the history and its predecessors? What national and provincial laws does this manual operate within? Where are the biggest influences from?
The previous design manual for cycling was published in 2005, and while TfL has conducted studies on cycling’s potential in London in 2008 and 2010, an announcement in 2013 called "The Mayor’s Vision for Cycling in London" is what inspired the development of this document:
“Cycling will be treated not as niche, marginal, or an afterthought, but as what it is: an integral part of the transport network, with the capital spending, road space and traffic planners’ attention befitting that role.
Among the greatest joys of London’s Olympics were our triumphs in cycling. I today announce that the main cross-London physical legacy of the 2012 Olympic Games will be a proper network of cycle routes throughout the city, a substantial increase in cycling, and all the benefits – fitness, enjoyment and easy travel for millions, cleaner air and less traffic for all – that will follow.”
Certainly a welcome message to all that get around by bike! And judging by the comprehensiveness of the 2014 design manual, the authors took the job of incorporating cycling into the transportation network seriously.
Document layout & figures
Comment on the aesthetic and functional qualities of the manual. Does this manual provide
guidance in a useful and user-friendly layout for designers?
The design of the manual is well organized, very detailed, and easily readable by non-professionals. Each chapter has a wealth of pictures for context in many different scenarios, correct and incorrect implementations, examples from other cities, matrices and maps to help decide what to use and where, as well as detailed renderings that help explain more complex concepts like signal timings at intersections and network coverage. Overall, TfL has done a great job of maintaining readability while being incredibly thorough.
Does this manual reference where their ideas come from? Does this manual reference research studies?
Chapters one and two of the LCDS give the reader a huge amount of information regarding the context of London and their goals, the steps that were taken to get to where they are in the manual, and how to perform the analyses needed when making decisions. In addition, each chapter includes a Bibliography section where links to all cited materials, including research studies, are listed.
Impact factor / adoption
To what extent has this manual impacted the landscape of bicycle infrastructure design? Where has the ideas of this manual been adopted, both in vertically (National -> provincial -> city) and horizontally, (cross-city transfer of ideas, or Dutch to North America). Have other infrastructure manuals followed suit?
The decisions made in this manual appear to have inspired a publication at the national level called "Gear change: a bold vision for cycling and walking" (2020). With terminology, goals, and designs found in the LCDS, "Gear Change" is England's plan to make walking and cycling an integral part of transportation throughout the country.
As more and more transportation and planning organizations look to and work with other cities for design guidance, TfL's comprehensive manual will certainly be utilized elsewhere.
The London Cycling Design Standards is a proper manual, including every aspect of the considerations and implementation of cycling infrastructure in a major city. Professionals on their own have much to gain from utilizing TfL’s processes and abundance of data, but even advocates and regular people on bikes are given an insight into how city infrastructure is assessed and completed. Unfortunately, it is expected to include unsafe designs when inserting cycling infrastructure in car dominated roadways, but the quality of this manual gives it a solid 4 stars.
Design manuals give best practices. Do you want to know the mechanics behind why some cycling infrastructure works while others will not be used? BUX teaches urban mobility professionals this in our courses. We also advise organizations looking to transform their street design approach.