Cycle Networks

This measure was fully updated by RUPPRECHT CONSULT in 2014 under the CH4LLENGE project, financed by the European Commission.


Cycling is promoted as an environmentally friendly, healthy, cheap and flexible transport mode. Where there is an aim to develop cycling as a daily transport mode, then city infrastructure needs to be adapted to ensure that riding a bicycle is safe, efficient, attractive, comfortable and convenient. Evidence shows that some cities have been able to dramatically increase the modal share of cycling through the implementation of a comprehensive package of measures as a Cycle Network. An underlying benefit of implementing a comprehensive network is that the impact of any single measure (e.g. provision of a Cycle Lane) is enhanced by synergies with complementary measures – i.e. the whole Network is greater than the sum of its parts.

A Cycle Network provides the framework for a series of cycle infrastructure interventions and improvements covering a given area or city and can incorporate: a network of Cycle Routes incorporating Segregated Cycle Facilities; provision of Cycle Parking and Storage; and integration of cycling with public transport. Ideally these “hard” infrastructure measures should also be supported by “soft” marketing, promotional and travel planning activities.

Case studies from Odense (Denmark) and Munich (Germany) described in this measure provide examples of where high cycling modal shares have been achieved through the adoption of a Cycle Network approach (approx. 25% and 14% respectively). The case study of Seville provides an inspiring example of where a rapid increase in cycling can be achieved in a city and culture where bicycle use was previously very rare (increase in cycling modal share increased from 0.2% to 7%).

In addition to encouraging more people to cycle, so helping to reduce congestion and pollution, the implementation of a Cycle Network with carefully designed infrastructure can improve cyclist safety. This in turn can further increase cyclist numbers as a result of the positive feedback loop of “safety in numbers”, which has been experienced by cities with a relatively high cycle modal share. Further potential benefits of cycling include greater opportunities for social interaction and reduced cyclist/pedestrian conflict, resulting in more liveable streets.

Introduction

Where there is an aim to develop cycling as a daily transport mode, then city infrastructure needs to be adapted to ensure that riding a bicycle is safe, efficient,  attractive, comfortable and convenient. A Cycle Network provides the framework for a series of cycle infrastructure interventions and improvements covering a given area or city and should comprise the following elements:

  • an interconnected set of safe and direct Cycle Routes (see also Segregated Cycle Facilities);
  • provision of short-term bicycle parking and long-term bicycle storage facilities (see Cycle Parking);
  • integration with public transport, by encouraging cycling as a public transport feeder, providing facilities at interchanges, and enabling the carrying of bicycles on public transport; and
  • promotional activities, such as “cycle to school” initiatives, public health campaigns and travel planning activities for businesses and other institutions.

This section of the KonSULT tool focuses on the first element of the Network, the provision of a Network of safe and direct Cycle Routes.

Terminology

There is potential to confuse a number of terms used to describe cycle-specific infrastructure and therefore it is helpful to think in terms of the following hierarchy:

  • Cycle Network – the network is made up of a series of Cycle Routes;
    • Cycle Routes – a Cycle Route is an uninterrupted itinerary that links two or more destinations. Each Cycle Route could be made up of a series of cycle infrastructure types, including Segregated Cycle Facilities.
      • Cycle Tracks – a Cycle Track is a high quality, dedicated type of Segregated Cycle Facility intended to separate cyclists physically from motorised traffic, either by a gap and/or by being raised to a higher level. A Cycle Track could form part of a Cycle Route.
      • Cycle Lanes – a Cycle Lane (another type of Segregated Cycle Facility), is a legally reserved riding space for cyclists on the road, which is located close to the carriageway and separated by markings or kerbstones. A Cycle Lane could form part of a Cycle Route.
      • Cycle Streets – a Cycle Street is a legally public road with mixed traffic, however, its design favours cyclists so that it becomes attractive as a main functional cycling route. Motorized traffic still has access, but the design makes it clear that they are considered guests on what is mainly a cycling route.

Cycle infrastructure terminology, particularly for Segregated Cycle Facilities, does vary from country to country. The [Segregated Cycle Facilities – hyperlink] page provides further information on relevant terms.

The terms Cycle Highway and Superhighway are becoming more common  and these tend to be the equivalent of main Cycle Routes, as described in further detail below. To provide an example London has introduced the “Barclays Cycle Superhighways”, which run from outer London into and across the city centre, as well as Leisure Routes aimed at recreational riders and tourists (Transport for London, 2014).

Description

Important principles and guidelines for establishing a Cycle Network of Routes are summarised below. The PRESTO ‘Cycling Policy Guide – Cycling Infrastructure’ (2010) has been utilised as the main reference source.

Quality requirements – Beginning with user needs, it is possible to define five main requirements for cycle-friendly infrastructure. These were developed in the Netherlands, but have been internationally recognised as valid policy guidelines. It will not always be possible to fulfil every requirement, but the more that are fulfilled, the more people will be attracted to get on their bikes:

  • SafeSafety is undeniably the basic requirement and must be the overriding concern.
  • Direct – Directness means that the cyclist can take as direct a route as possible to his or her destination. This can make cycling highly competitive over short distances.
  • Cohesive – Cohesion is about the extent to which cyclists can travel from any origin to any destination utilising cycling infrastructure. This means that cyclists will strongly appreciate an area-wide or city-wide network.
  • Attractive – Attractiveness means that bicycle infrastructure is well integrated into agreeable surroundings. This is a matter of perception and image, which can strongly encourage or discourage cyclists.
  • Comfortable – Comfort is about creating an enjoyable, smooth and relaxing cycling experience.

Utility and recreational cycle networks – It is possible to distinguish between utility and recreational cycle networks, which are designed to respond to different user needs and priorities. Utility cyclists want to get as quickly as possible from A to B, whereas the recreational cyclist is looking for a leisurely attractive ride while exploring a region.
In practice, however, utility and recreational networks tend to overlap and should be integrated. Many recreational departure points and destinations are, for instance, in a city centre or a railway station. At the same time, there is also demand for utility trips along alternative quiet and attractive routes, parallel with busy roads but at a distance from them.

Designing Cycle Routes according to function – A further network design concept described in the PRESTO (2010) guidance is that of Cycle Route function; a hierarchy of “main routes”, “top local routes” and “local routes” is proposed. Since routes on each level have specific functions, logically this leads to specific design requirements, as summarised here:

  • Main Cycle Routes – These are fast, long distance cycle routes connecting centres over distances of around 5km to 15km for utility use (also referred to as Cycle Highways), or over longer distances for recreational routes. Design aims are to achieve car free routes, or maximum separation between cyclists and motorists, as well as a minimum number of crossings.
  • Top Local Cycle Routes – These seek to provide the most logical (quick) connection between (sub)centers and districts, often along busy roads. Provision of Segregated Cycle Facilities is desirable given intensity and speed of motorized traffic.  If possible, conflict free crossings (e.g. traffic lights) are provided.
  • Local Cycle Routes – Local Cycle Routes provide access to destinations within districts and neighbourhoods and can include traffic calming zones where separation of car traffic and cyclists is not always necessary. There may be opportunities to provide short-cuts for cyclists, such as contra-flow lanes and cycling through pedestrianized areas.

Why introduce a cycle network?

The benefits of cycling - Cycling is promoted as an environmentally friendly, healthy, cheap and flexible transport mode. A recent study by the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF, 2013) into the economic benefits of cycling in 27 EU countries sought to monetise six main benefits, as follows:

  • congestion-easing due to cycle use;
  • fuel savings due to cycle use;
  • reduced CO2 emissions due to cycle use;
  • reduced air pollution due to cycle use
  • reduced noise pollution due to cycle use; and
  • health benefits of cycling;

Based on the statistic that 7.4% of European citizens use the bicycle as their preferred mode of transportation, the six categories combined accumulate to an economic benefit of €143.2 – 155.3bn. ECF found that the largest single benefit of cycling was found to relate to health, representing about 80% of the total internal and external benefits assessed.
The study also identified a series of wider social benefits of cycling to local communities, but these could not be included in the economic benefits analysis due to the lack of verifiable data:

  • improved quality of the public realm;
  • increase in quality of life due to higher accessibility; and
  • a boost to the vitality of local shopping centres due to typically shorter trips.

Cycling in Europe – There are great differences between European countries in terms of the modal share of cycling. The differences are due in part to different cultures, history and cycle policy. A Eurobarometer survey undertaken in 2010 asked the question: What is the main mode of transport that you use for your daily activities? As shown in the table below, the number of people stating that cycling is their main mode of transport varied from a high proportion of cycle use in the Netherlands (32%) and Denmark and Hungary (19%), to instances where the modal share is much lower, such as Portugal (1.6%), Luxembourg (1.6%) and Bulgaria (1.8%).

Eurobarometer Survey – Main mode of transport used for daily activities

figure 1
Source: Flash Eurobarometer 312 (2011)

Where countries and cities have a particularly high cycling modal share, government support at the national and local levels has often been an important contributing factor. According to the Dutch Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management, in cities with a high bicycle share (above 30%) such as Enchede, Amsterdam, Eindhoven and Copenhagen, the acceptance in the 1950s and 60s of the cyclist as a “normal” traffic participant, having equal rights on the roadway with cars, was a crucial factor in attaining their high modal share for cycling. From the 1970s onwards, as concerns about energy consumption, the environment and health rose, the role of cycling as an important transport mode was reinforced (OECD, 2004).

For instance, in 1990, the Dutch Ministry of Transport developed a national strategy for the promotion of cycling, the Dutch Bicycle Master Plan (BMP), while recognising that municipalities and provinces were better placed to design and implement detailed cycling measures. The BMP was comprised of 112 projects to be carried out over the period 1990-1997, including 31 research projects and 41 pilot projects involving the improvement of Cycle Routes, safety and parking conditions in and around public areas, as well as initiatives to reduce bicycle theft. The Ministry of Transport recognised early on that the role of central government in defining the details of local cycling policy and plans was limited, given the nature of cycling as a short-distance travel mode. A decentralised approach was adopted, but it is clear that the influence of the BMP was significant in that, by 1996, most municipalities had developed high-quality bicycle plans of their own (OECD, 2004).

Following the example set by countries such as the Netherlands and Denmark, and given the growing consensus on the benefits of cycling, an increasing number of cities have sought to establish Cycle Networks. Pucher et al. (2010) provides a very helpful overview of the wide range of  infrastructure, programme and policy interventions being implemented, together with a discussion of the actual impacts of these in terms of increasing cycling modal share. The review highlights that there are considerable variations in the results of implementing cycle measures, in part due to study methodologies, but that the most compelling evidence comes from communities that have implemented a fully integrated package of strategies to increase cycling. Pucher et al. advise that “…the impact of any single measure is enhanced by the synergies with complementary measures in the same package – i.e. the whole package is more than the sum of its parts.”

Based on consideration of case studies of 14 cities that implemented a package of measures as a network approach, Pucher et al. conclude that some cities have been able to dramatically increase the modal share of cycling, while also improving safety. Examples include:

  • Berlin, for example, almost quadrupled the number of bicycle trips between 1970 and 2001, and doubled the bicycle share of trips from 5% in 1990 to 10% in 2007. In spite of the sharp rise in cycling, serious cyclist injuries in Berlin fell by 38% from 1992 to 2006.
  • In only six years, the bicycle share of trips within the City of Paris more than doubled from 1% in 2001 to 2.5% in 2007.
  • The bicycle share of trips in Bogota quadrupled from 0.8% in 1995 to 3.2% in 2006.
  • The total number of bicycle trips in London doubled between 2000 and 2008, while cyclist injuries fell by 12% over the same period.
  • Amsterdam raised the bicycle share of trips from 25% in 1970 to 37% in 2005; serious bicyclist injuries fell by 40% between 1985 and 2005.
  • From 1995 to 2003, the bicycle share of trips in Copenhagen rose from 25% to 38% among those aged 40 years and older. Yet, there was a 60% decline in serious injuries.
  • Between 1990 and 2008, the number of workers commuting mainly by bicycle in Portland, Oregon increased over 600%, while the share of workers commuting by bicycle rose from 1.1% to 6.0%.”

Further examples from smaller cities are also provided in the Pucher et al. (2010) paper.

Demand impacts

Several city case studies, as set out above, demonstrate that the modal share of cycling and cyclist safety can be increased significantly when a broad package of measures is introduced. In each example, the implementation of a substantial network of Cycle Routes formed a key component of the overall strategy, supplemented by provision of cycle parking, promotional activities and other measures.

For cities with limited cycling infrastructure and a relatively low modal share at the present time, it would not be realistic to expect that a complete city-wide network can be planned and  implemented in a short time plan. The PRESTO guidance suggests that, at the start, it is recommended to make a rough outline of the most likely city-wide connections, just to provide an overview. Following that, it makes more sense to build a network selectively and progressively. An option would be to start with the city centre and one adjacent residential district, make those cycle-friendly, and create a high-potential main Cycle Route to connect these. Progressively other districts can follow and more routes can be developed, gradually interconnecting.

When assessing demand impacts, the scores below assume that a comprehensive Cycle Network and a supporting package of interventions (e.g. parking and public transport integration) is in place. For cities at the early stages of implementing a Cycle Network on an incremental basis, the lower demand impacts shown for Segregated Cycle Facilities can be expected, but with potential for cumulative improvements over time as the network matures.

Responses and situations
Response Reduction in road traffic Expected in situations

For shorter journeys, limited change in departure time anticipated due to ease of parking a bicycle when compared with a car. For longer journeys, longer journey durations would be expected, unless travel is along very congested routes. 
Cyclists will use segregated cycle facilities, in particular cycle tracks rather than vehicle routes, if well planned and maintained.
Improved mobility by bicycle could result in greater use of local facilities and shops, or those located along high quality Cycle Routes.
The total number of trips made is unlikely to be reduced as a result of a cycle network.
Improved safety and mobility by cycle utilising a comprehensive network could encourage modal shift from car and public transport, particularly for shorter trips.
As cycling does not substitute longer car journeys, selling the car is unlikely. Nevertheless, a well-developed cycle network integrated with public transport may affect the purchase of a second household car or delay purchase of a first car.
Implementation of a Cycle Network does not induce relocation. In the long term individuals may choose to move closer to locations with high quality Cycle Routes, particular if these provide a commuting or leisure route that they would use frequently. Any impact is most likely to occur when moving house for other reasons.
= Weakest possible response = Strongest possible positive response
= Weakest possible negative response = Strongest possible negative response
= No response

Short and long run demand responses

The demand responses of a Cycle Network over time will relate to the incremental improvement of the network and implementation of supplementary measures, such as cycle parking, integration with public transport and promotional activities. Since public transport is often an alternative or sometimes a supplementary mode for cyclists (during the winter, when the weather is bad, for longer trips etc.) there is potential for cycling to also increase the number of public transport trips.

Demand responses in terms of a change of job or living location are considered to be relatively limited, however locations with access to high quality Cycle Routes may become more desirable when people relocate for other reasons. Changes to convenience shopping destinations may be more influenced should cycling become more established as a transport mode for short trips. Selling the car is an unlikely response to the early stages of Cycle Network implementation. However, in the long run C ycle N etworks might have potential for reducing car dependency, when combined with a range of measures such as mixed-use and high density land use, and the promotion of public transport, walking and car-sharing clubs.

The table below shows the potential for increasing impact in the long term, based on the following assumptions:

  • During the period of 1 – 2 years there is increasing knowledge of the improved Cycle Network and changes in behaviour once the first elements of Cycle Routes have been implemented.
  • The completion of the first high quality Cycle Routes may influence the route and location decisions of people and businesses over the long term (5 years plus).
  • A comprehensive Cycle Network and range of complementary measures is in place across the city (10+ years) and therefore demand responses related to new facilities in specific locations are less pronounced.
Demand responses
Response - 1st year 2-4 years 5 years 10+ years
-
  -
  Change home, shopping or job location
  -
  -
  -
  -
= Weakest possible response = Strongest possible positive response
= Weakest possible negative response = Strongest possible negative response
= No response

Supply impacts

The implementation of a Cycle Network and associated measures will impact on the availability of road space for road vehicles.   In  urban environments where space is limited, the provision of Segregated Cycle Facilities will often require use of some of the road space previously utilized by motorised vehicles. However, this may facilitate an overall increase in the number of people that can be accommodated on a particular stretch of road, on the basis that cyclists take up less road space than cars.

Financing requirements

To inform the German government’s new National Cycling Plan that entered into force in 2013, a short assessment was commissioned that identified the financial requirements of a cycle network and related measures for municipalities and districts, in relation with the size of the population. According to this assessment, it was found that municipalities can expect the following annual resource requirement (NRVP, 2012):

  • Approx. €6 to €15 per resident for building, maintaining and operating the infrastructure, from which:
    • €1 to €3 is for operational maintenance alone;
    • €1 to €2.50 is for parking facilities in public spaces; and
    • €0.5 to €2 for ‘soft measures’ such as communication and promotion.
  • Where further measures, such as bike rental stations, are implemented, the cost per resident per year can be within the range of €8 to €19.

A study conducted by the Austrian Federal Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology shows that consistent and successful cycling promotion is possible despite a low budget (BMVIT 2011 from NRVP, 2012). The study shows, for example, the measures that can be implemented with a cycling budget of €50,000:

Measure

Per unit cost

Building 300m of a Cycle Track

Approx. €16,700 per 100m

Marking 6.5km of a Cycle Lane

Approx. €800 per 100m

Signing 35km of a Cycle Route/Network

Approx. €1,500 per km

Purchasing 600 cycle stands

Approx. €85 per stand

Providing 50 covered cycle-parking spaces including lighting

Approx. €1,000 per space

Establishing a pool of 50-100 rental bikes

Approx. €500-1,000 per bike

Offering 100 bicycle training sessions

Approx. €500 per session

Organising 50 bicycle check days

Approx. €1,000 per day

Hiring a cycling coordinator for 1.5 years

Approx. €35,000

Note – Unit costs are rounded up to allow contingency.

Expected impact on key policy objectives

The implementation of a Cycle Network as part of a comprehensive package of measures can be expected to achieve a significant modal shift towards cycling.

Cost benefit analyses of cycle strategies and networks show that safety and health are the main benefactors (when economic externalities are taken into account), although an improved feeling and perception of safety can also lead to increasing numbers of cyclists as a positive feedback loop (see Odense case study). The implementation of a cycle network is expected to have positive impacts on all the key policy objectives, with the exception of finance.

Contribution to objectives

Objective

Scale of contribution

Comment

  Provision of a comprehensive cycle network is expected to achieve a significant modal shift, helping to ease congestion and improve efficiency.
  The introduction of a Cycle Network can promote a modal shift to cycling, which in turn can provide opportunities for social interaction and help to reduce  noise and air pollution. Where reductions in motorised traffic are achieved, this can also help to reduce the “severance” effect of highways with high volumes of traffic. In addition, provision of dedicated cycle infrastructure can reduce the likelihood of cyclist conflict with pedestrians.
  Increased trips by bicycle and reduced car use will lead to reduced CO2 emissions, other air pollution and noise pollution.
  Some groups of people with lower incomes may benefit from the cheap form of mobility cycling provides. Additionally, a cycle network can encourage more women, elderly people and children to cycle.
  Well-designed Cycle Networks can contribute to improving the safety of cyclists and therefore encourage others to begin cycling.
  Increased levels of cycling may support a local economy, by encouraging use of local shops and enhancing the demand for a cycling support network of cycle shops and cycle parking. Investment in the construction of a Cycle Network will also provide a short-term boost in employment.
  Planning and implementation of a comprehensive Cycle Network will rely on public sector investment. The cost of providing Segregated Cycle Facilities, together with well-designed highway crossings and parking can vary substantially, depending on the design solutions adopted.
= Weakest possible positive contribution = Strongest possible positive contribution
= Weakest possible negative contribution = Strongest possible negative contribution
= No contribution

Expected impact on problems

Promotion of cycling through implementation of a comprehensive strategy, including provision of a Cycle Network, is predicted to have a beneficial effect with respect to all the key problems listed.

Contribution to alleviation of key problems

Problem

Scale of contribution

Comment

Congestion-related delay

Implementation of a Cycle Network can achieve a significant modal shift to cycling and therefore contribute to reducing congestion.

Congestion-related unreliability

Increased levels of cycling can have a host of benefits for communities, including: increased opportunities for social interaction, when compared to car travel; more liveable streets (as described above); and reduced community severance by decreasing traffic volumes and improving accessibility.

Community severence

Modal shift to cycling can help to reduce CO2 emissions, air pollution and noise pollution. Cycle Routes are also more space efficient than roads, and therefore, loss of green space and environmental damage is comparatively limited.

Visual intrusion

For people without a car, the implementation of a Cycle Network would increase mobility options, particularly for short trips. Cycle Routes will also be of benefit to those with mobility impairments, providing improved infrastructure for people with Electric Mobility Scooters. 

Lack of amenity

Implementation of a Cycle Network would benefit all social and geographic groups, with greatest potential to increase mobility for those groups with relatively low levels of car ownership.

Global warming

A well-designed Cycle Network can help to reduce traffic volumes, increase numbers of cyclists and provide safer infrastructure for cyclists. All these factors can help to reduce collisions between cyclists and motorized vehicles and pedestrians.

Local air pollution

Where cycling becomes more common, this has potential to increase use of local shops and services, helping to support the local economy.
= Weakest possible positive contribution = Strongest possible positive contribution
= Weakest possible negative contribution = Strongest possible negative contribution
= No contribution

Expected winners and losers

Construction of a Cycle Network does not force anybody to change their travel habits and there is expected to be more potential for winners than losers. Where the provision of cyclist facilities results in a reduction of space for motorized vehicles, there may be a perception that groups such as commercial freight operators and car users are losers. It is therefore important that provision of segregated cycle facilities is seen in the context of a broader Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan that seeks to reduce congestion and improve the overall efficiency of the transport network.

Winners and losers

Group

Winners/Losers

Comment

Large scale freight and commercial traffic

Potential for reduced congestion in the long-term where modal shift is achieved.

Small businesses

Cycling may help increase use of local facilities, due to shorter trips being preferred and ease of parking.

High income car-users

Car-users will benefit from use of segregated cycle facilities during leisure time, if not used for commuting to work etc. Increased opportunities for safe cycling can help to improve health.
Low income car-users with poor access to public transport Cycling provides an affordable means for accessing local facilities and public transport, particularly when good parking facilities are provided.

All existing public transport users

Reduced congestion as a result of modal shift to bicycle use may increase the reliability of existing public transport.

People living adjacent to the area targeted

A Cycle Network should be city or area-wide, but people living closest to the high quality Cycle Routes will benefit more than others.

Cyclists including children

Existing and new cyclists will benefit most from the Cycle Network. In particular, groups that were more reluctant to cycle for safety reasons (women, the elderly and children) will benefit from the provision of dedicated infrastructure.

People at higher risk of health problems exacerbated by poor air quality

A modal shift to cycling can contribute to reducing emissions within a city, to the benefit of people with health risks exacerbated by poor air quality.
People making high value, important journeys Potential reductions in congestion will benefit those using public transport or private motorized vehicles to undertake high value, important journeys.
The average car user Car-users will benefit from the opportunity to use the Cycle Network during leisure time, if not used for commuting to work and shopping trips etc. Increased opportunities for safe cycling can help to improve health.
= Weakest possible benefit = Strongest possible positive benefit
= Weakest possible negative benefit = Strongest possible negative benefit
= Neither wins nor loses

Barriers to implementation

Scale of barriers
Barrier Scale Comment
Legal Aside from the potential need to purchase private property to implement parts of a Cycle Network, there are no obvious legal barriers to the implementation of a Network. In some cases, changes to highway laws may be necessary to strengthen the rights of cyclists using segregated cycle facilities, in particular Cycle Lanes.
Finance Planning and implementing a comprehensive Cycle Network and associated measures is an expensive undertaking. However, once externalities such the increased security and health effects of cycle routes are taken into account, they do provide value for money. The need to prioritise scarce public funds between all kinds of transport investment is a significant barrier.
Governance Governance arrangements for a C ycle N etwork could provide for the involvement of public authorities, relevant transport providers, and potentially cycling charities and other interest groups. It is not expected that very complex arrangements would be necessary to implement a cycling network.
Political acceptability Measures relating to cyclists and pedestrians often have less priority than measures relating to motorized vehicles.
Public and stakeholder acceptability There is expected to be support from a range of groups, as well as pro-cycling lobbies, however there will also be those that oppose significant investment in cycling, particularly if this is at the expense of other transport modes or other public services.
Technical feasibility To perform to the best potential, a Cycle Network does require careful planning and design. Implementation of Cycle Routes may also entail significant alterations to some highways corridors. Nevertheless, in comparison to other transport modes, technical requirements are not complex.
= Minimal barrier = Most significant barrier

Case 1: Odense, Denmark’s National Bicycling City

Context

Denmark has a long tradition of cycling and, within Europe, is second only to the Netherlands in its overall level of cycling (Pucher & Buehler, 2007). Cycling in Denmark benefits from a mostly flat topography and moderate climate, but it also benefits from a wide range of transport and land use policies that have increasingly supported cycling and restricted car use over the past few decades.

Odense is the third largest city in Denmark (with around 185,000 inhabitants) and was designated as the country’s official National Bicycling City in 1999. The main objective of transport policy in Odense has been to increase cycling levels while reducing cycling injuries. In pursuit of this aim, the city implemented a comprehensive package of measures within a Cycle Network approach during the period 1999-2002. These included (Pucher & Buehler, 2007; Pucher et al., 2010):

  • Design improvements to 500km of separate bike paths and lanes (see Segregated Cycle Facilities). Since the mid 1980s Odense has benefitted from over 500km of bike lanes, so the National Cycling City program only extended the network by another 400m through the addition of one new bike lane.
  • Many intersections were modified through the introduction of bike boxes for cyclists, advance green lights and bicycle turning lanes.
  • Improved signage, bicycle trip counters, bicycle air pumps and free bikes at work.
  • Green wave for cyclists, with traffic signals timed to cyclist speeds.
  • Expansion and improvement of Cycle Parking, especially at the main railway station.
  • Innovative internet bicycle route planning, also via mobile phones.
  • Car-free zones in the city centre and traffic calming of residential neighbourhoods at 30km/hr.
  • Mandatory cycling education for all school children.
  • A wide range of promotional programmes for all age groups, bicycling ambassador program, annual bicycle days, cycling competitions, etc.

In addition to providing extensive and high quality cycling facilities, the city undertakes extraordinary measures to ensure proper maintenance. It employs a group of 4 free-lance trouble-shooting cyclists who regularly cover the entire network and report any defects or maintenance problems, receiving €3.30 for every confirmed repair problems that needs to be fixed. During the winter, bike lanes and paths are promptly cleared of ice and snow with a special vehicle that sprays a salt solution onto the riding surface so that cycling is not prevented.

Impacts on demand

Travel surveys indicate that the cycle share of trips in Odense increased from an already high level of 22.5% to 24.6% during the period 1994 to 2002, but with fluctuations from year to year.

As a result of the comprehensive package of federally supported pro-bike programs implemented between 1999 and 2002, there was an impressive 20% increase in total bike trips over that short 3-year period. It is expected that a significant proportion of these trips would comprise a modal shift from private car use to use of bicycles, helping to ease congestion and reduce air and noise pollution.

Impacts on Supply

Odense’s approach to promoting cycling is augmented by restriction on car use in the city centre. There are no direct routes for cars to pass through the city centre from one side to the other, which restricts traffic to vehicles with destinations in the city centre rather than those just passing through. This results in less traffic overall, as well as less noise, air pollution and traffic danger (Pucher & Boehler, 2007).

Other Impacts - Traffic safety

Odense has undertaken many measures to improve cycling safety, nevertheless, ensuring cyclist safety remains an important objective. Pucher & Boehler (1997) report that ‘…from 1999 to 2004, total cyclist injuries fell from 80 to 57, indicating considerable success. Unfortunately, the number of serious injuries fell only slightly (from 36 to 33), and the number of fatalities actually rose (from 1 to 3). Since the number of bike trips increased over the same period by about 20% over the same period, however, the decrease in both total and serious cyclist injuries would translate into a more significant fall in the overall cycling injury rate per trip (Dutch Bicycling Council, 2006; Andersen, 2005). The correlation between rising cycling levels and falling injury rates in Odense is consistent with the theory of “safety in numbers,” which suggests that more cycling leads to greater cycling safety, as documented for a range of countries and cities by Jacobsen (2003).’

Contribution to objectives

Contribution to objectives
Objective Scale of contribution Comment
  In the absence of detailed information on congestion, it is anticipated that the high cycle modal share achieved in Odense helps to limit congestion on the road network.
  The high cycle modal share increases the opportunities for social interaction, helps to limit air and noise pollution, and contributes towards reducing pedestrian/cyclist conflict.
  As over 24% of trips in Odense are made by bicycle, CO2 emissions, other forms of air pollution and noise pollution from transport are expected to be below the national and European averages.
  Enhancements to cycling infrastructure and improving safety records may make cycling more appealing for a range of social groups, including the elderly, women and children.
  Improvements to infrastructure and “safety in numbers” for cyclists in Odense means that safety levels have improved relative to the number of trips made by bicycle.
  It is expected that high levels of cycling will result in greater use of local shops and services, however, there is no evidence from the case study to verify this.
  Odense’s cycle infrastructure has been built up over decades and, while the initial capital and on-going maintenance costs are expected to be significant, the comparative cost for infrastructure that handles over 20% of trips is considered low.
= Weakest possible positive contribution = Strongest possible positive contribution
= Weakest possible negative contribution = Strongest possible negative contribution
= No contribution

Case study 2: Cycling Strategy for Munich, Germany

Context

The metropolitan region of Munich in Germany is flourishing and has the 5th highest GDP per capita in Europe. The city’s continuing economic growth has led to population growth and positive employment trends, which in turn has created pressure on the transport infrastructure in the region. Munich’s transport and urban planning strategy is based around the three principles of urban, compact and green, and the city’s bicycle transport strategy is considered an integral component of creating a socially and environmentally sustainable transport system (Marsh & Ritzau-Kjaerulff, 2012).  

Munich’s approach to implementing a Cycle Network and strategy comprises a combination of ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ measures. Hard measures refers to the creation of physical infrastructure including Segregated Cycle Facilities and Cycle Parking, while soft measures refers to marketing campaigns and the creation of bike friendly legislation. The ratio in spending between hard and soft measures is around 4:1.

Since 1986 the City of Munich has been developing its Cycle Network through a series of Transport Development Plans for Bicycles (VEP-R). The Cycle Network covers around 1,200km and incorporates the following:

  • 14 sign-posted routes spreading out from the city centre, together with three ring routes that provide good connectivity and mobility;
  • 17 bicycle roads that are reserved entirely for cyclists;
  • the introduction of contraflow lanes for cyclists on one-way streets for motorized traffic; and
  • the provision of bike and ride parking racks at most metropolitan stations to facilitate multi-modal travel.

To provide an example of soft measures, the city launched a major communication campaign in 2010, with the slogan “Radlhaupstadt München” (Bicycle Capital Munich), reflecting the city’s aim to become and remain Germany’s most bicycle-friendly city.  The bicycle marketing campaign commenced in April with a bicycle tour through the historic city centre. Other activities of the campaign included (ELTIS, 2013):

  • a bicycle safety check;
  • bicycle fashion shows;
  • a cycle star casting contest – a participation campaign with online-voting;
  • a photoshoot;
  • bicycle exchange markets;
  • bicycle exhibitions;
  • school activities like a “check your bike” programme, a bike quiz show, and the creation of a bicycle campaign song; and
  • a bicycle festival film.

The approach is always to inform and to create more understanding for all traffic participants in order to achieve a sense of togetherness rather than competitiveness on the roads.

Impacts on demand

Analysis of transport modes in 2000 and 2008 has seen the amount of trips carried out by bike increase from 8.1% to 14% (Marsh & Ritzau-Kjaerulff, 2012 citing LM, 2006 and LM 2010). Looking ahead, the City of Munich aims to increase the share of cycling to 17% by 2015, although according to a further survey undertaken by the newspaper Sueddeutsche in 2012, this goal has already been achieved with a figure of 17.4% recorded.

Public perception of cycling in Munich was also found to be positive. A study carried out by the Department of Urban Planning found that 72% of respondents consider cycling in Munich to be either “good” or “excellent”.

These statistics demonstrate the success of the Cycle Network and strategy for promoting cycling. It is important to note, however, that while the modal share of cycling increased during the period 2000 to 2008, the survey results showed that the modal share of public transport and walking decreased over this time period. Use of the car increased from 42% of trips in 2000 to 55% of trips in 2008. This would suggest that the Cycling Network was most successful in persuading public transport users and walkers to cycle, rather than motorists. As a result, the contribution of the Cycle Network to the KonSULT objectives are more modest for Munich than the other case studies.

Further analysis of total trip numbers and congestion levels would be helpful to understand the overall impacts of the Cycle Network on travel behavior and demand.

Impacts on supply

Marsh and Ritzau-Kjaerulff (2012) highlight that, where there is an objective to create a compact city, this naturally leads to conflicts when it comes to finding space for different modes of transport. In the case of Munich, the following problems and opportunities are identified:

  • Narrow Cycle Lanes, often the remnants of 1980s bicycle infrastructure, can lead to capacity issues on popular Cycle Routes.
  • The creation of Contraflows for cyclists on one-way streets is one of the newer initiatives being pursued in Munich, which is considered an efficient way of utilizing available road space.
  • Loss of car parking can be a contentious issue. For instance, one way to improve visibility at road intersections, to improve cyclist safety, is to remove the closest parking space to the junction.

Contribution to objectives

Contribution to objectives
Objective Scale of contribution Comment
  A significant cycling modal share of >14% has been achieved in Munich, however, the modal share of car trips over the survey period 2000 to 2008 has also grown. Further analysis is required to understand whether the overall efficiency of the transport system has improved.
  The combined modal share of trips for walking and cycling has remained relatively static between 2000 and 2008 (around 24-25%). Cycling levels have increased while the proportion of walking trips has declined. Walking and cycling have similar benefits with respect to social interaction and reducing pollution and a relatively high combined modal share has been maintained. It is expected that the provision of dedicated cycling infrastructure would help reduce walker/cyclist conflict.
  A relatively high modal share of cycling, combined with walking, helps to limit air and noise pollution.  
  Enhancements to cycling infrastructure and improving safety records may make cycling more appealing for a range of social groups, including the elderly, women and children. Further information on cyclist demographics would be helpful to confirm this.
  It is predicted that the improvements to cycling infrastructure have improved cyclist safety and the perception of safety. This has helped to increase the modal share of cycling.
  It is expected that high levels of cycling, combined with walking, will result in greater use of local shops and services, however, there is no evidence from the case study to verify this.
  The City of Munich has invested a considerable amount of money into its bicycle program. During 2012, the yearly allowance for bicycle transport was around €4.5million.
= Weakest possible positive contribution = Strongest possible positive contribution
= Weakest possible negative contribution = Strongest possible negative contribution
= No contribution

Case study 3 : Seville, Spain

Context

Spain has a relatively low cycling modal share of 1.6% and, prior to 2007, Seville was no exception to this with a very low trip share of 0.2% recorded. The city therefore provides a striking example of how the implementation of a Cycle Network together with associated measures can achieve a significant shift in travel behaviour, with a cycle mode share of between 7% and 10% recently recorded (ABW, 2012; Krizek, 2014). The city has set a target of achieving a 15% cycling modal share by 2015.
Starting in 2007, the city created a new network of more than 150km of Cycle Routes, with an underlying structure of eight main routes connecting the city centre with outlying activity centres. Much of the network consists of bi-directional 2.5m wide Cycle Tracks and the route corridors benefit from raised crossings, additional barrier treatments from cars and cycling-specific lighting features.

Krizek writes that almost all noteworthy cycling cities have taken an evolutionary strategy; they incrementally chip away. Seville is testament to the contrary as most of the cycle facilities were laid out in only 36 months. Associated measures included the implementation of a bike-sharing scheme, which has now grown to 2,600 bicycles spread over 260 stations, with 5,000 parking spaces.

In order to fund implementation of the Cycle Network (total cost of approx. €43m), Seville diverted €10m from various urban surcharges and complemented this with €18m from the general transportation budget, plus other funding sources. Maintenance costs are recorded to be in the order of €300,000 per annum, of which 12% is used to renew the distinctive green paint of the Cycle Tracks.

Impact on demand

As noted above, implementation of the Cycle Network is the major factor in the significant increase of cycling trips, from 0.2% to over 7% of trips in Seville. The introduction of the bike-sharing system is also considered to be a success. This was also introduced in 2007 and its use peaked with approx. 60,000 users in 2009. Krizek advises that the system appears to have stabilized with 52,000 users who make 17,000 bike rentals a day.

Impacts on supply

85% of the network was created on road space formally used for motorized vehicles. Traffic lanes were trimmed by 0.5m and street-side parking bays were angled to become parallel, gaining another 2.5m along some routes.  

Contribution to objectives

The evaluation of the Seville case study in terms of policy objectives has been undertaken based on quantitative and qualitative information in ABW (2012) and Krizek (2014) – see table below.

Contribution to objectives
Objective Scale of contribution Comment
  The number of car trips into the city centre has reduced from 25,000 to 10,000 a day, helping to reduce congestion. This is due to a combination of factors, notably traffic restrictions in the city centre combined with implementation of the Cycle Network.
  The city hosted public meetings and design workshops to incorporate ideas from neighbourhoods into plans for newly configured public spaces and roadways. Some controversy with respect to loss of parking remains, but polls show both residents and businesses are pleased with the changes.
  Traffic pollution is reported to be declining for the first time in 30 years.
  The cycle network was designed to make the system appealing to less experienced riders, particularly children, women, and older people.
  The design target for the Cycle Network “was a 65-year old woman with groceries” to ensure safety for everyone. No accident statistics are currently available.
  There was initial opposition to removing or relocating car parking, but business owners were persuaded that streets filled with pedestrians and cyclists create more opportunities for spontaneous visits to shops and cafes.
  The total cost of implementing the network (€43m) is compared favourably with that of highway infrastructure, however Krizek (2014) highlights that ongoing maintenance costs are a concern for the city.
= Weakest possible positive contribution = Strongest possible positive contribution
= Weakest possible negative contribution = Strongest possible negative contribution
= No contribution

All three case studies demonstrate that a substantial modal shift to cycling can be achieved through the implementation of a comprehensive Cycle Network. Notably, in the case of Munich, while the proportion of bicycle trips has increased, so too has the proportion of trips by car (for the period 2000 to 2008). It is therefore expected that the increased cycle modal share has been at the detriment of walking and public transport usage levels (further research on this assertion would be helpful), a point which has been reflected in the scoring below.

Contribution to objectives

Contribution to objectives and problems
Objective Odense, Denmark’s National Bicycling City Cycling Strategy for Munich, Germany Cycle Network provision in Seville, Spain Comment
  Introduction of a Cycle Network has contributed to higher levels of cycling in all three case studies. In the cases of Odense and Seville, a combination of measures has resulted in reduced traffic in the city centre. The efficiency benefits for Munich are less clear as the proportion of car trips and cycle trips have both increased during the survey period 2000 to 2008.
  Increasing and high cyclist modal shares provide opportunities for social interaction and reductions in noise and air pollution. Provision of dedicated cyclist infrastructure helps to reduce pedestrian/cyclist conflict. A lower score is recorded for Munich, where it appears that part of the modal shift achieved is from walking to cycling.
  Increased trips by bicycle and reduced car use will lead to reduced CO2 emissions, other air pollution and noise pollution. A reduction in air pollution has been achieved in Seville (through a combination of measures) and the high cycling modal share in Odense and Munich is expected to help limit pollution.
  Some groups of people with lower incomes may benefit from the cheap form of mobility cycling provides. Additionally, a cycle network can encourage more women, elderly people and children to cycle. The case studies do not currently provide information allowing for this to be reliably tested.
  Well-designed Cycle Networks can contribute to improving the safety of cyclists and therefore encourage others to start. “Safety in Numbers” benefits have been observed in Odense and perceived and actual improvements in safety are considered to have supported the modal shift to cycling in Munich and Seville.
  Increased levels of cycling may support a local economy, by encouraging use of local shops and enhancing the demand for a cycling support network of cycle shops and cycle parking. Investment in the construction of a Cycle Network will also provide a short-term boost in employment. The potential for enhanced economic growth is not, however, tested by the case studies.
  Planning and implementation of a comprehensive Cycle Network is likely to rely on public sector investment. The cost of providing Segregated Cycle Facilities, together with well-designed highway crossings and parking can vary substantially, depending on the design solutions adopted. While the initial capital costs and on-going maintenance costs can be significant, the comparative cost for the cycle infrastructure that handles from around 14% (Munich) to 20% (Odense) of trips is relatively low.
= Weakest possible positive contribution = Strongest possible positive contribution
= Weakest possible negative contribution = Strongest possible negative contribution
= No contribution

Contribution to problems

Contribution to alleviation of key problems
Objective Odense, Denmark’s National Bicycling City Cycling Strategy for Munich, Germany Cycle Network provision in Seville, Spain Comment
Congestion Implementation of a Cycle Network can achieve a significant modal shift to cycling and therefore contribute to reducing congestion. In the cases of Odense and Seville, a combination of measures has resulted in reduced traffic in the city centre. The efficiency benefits for Munich are less clear as the proportion of car trips and cycle trips have both increased during the survey period 2000 to 2008.
Community impacts Increased levels of cycling can have a host of benefits for communities, including: increased opportunities for social interaction, when compared to car travel; more liveable streets (as described above); and reduced community severance by decreasing traffic volumes and improving accessibility. These impacts are not specifically tested by the case studies.
Environmental damage Modal shift to cycling can help to reduce CO2 emissions, air pollution and noise pollution. In all three cases studies the implementation of a Cycle Network has helped to increase levels of cycling.
Poor accessibility For people without a car, the implementation of a Cycle Network will increase mobility options, particularly for short trips. In all three cases studies the implementation of a Cycle Network has helped to increase levels of cycling, although in Munich the combined walking and cycling modal share has remained static.
Social and geographical disadvantage Implementation of a Cycle Network would benefit all social and geographic groups, with greatest potential to increase  mobility for those groups with relatively low levels of car ownership. In all three cases studies the implementation of a Cycle Network has helped to increase levels of cycling, although there is no data on the modal share of cycle trips for specific social groups.
Accidents Well-designed Cycle Networks can contribute to improving the safety of cyclists and therefore encourage others to start. “Safety in Numbers” benefits have been observed in Odense and perceived and actual improvements in safety are considered to have supported the modal shift to cycling in Munich and Seville.
Economic growth Where cycling becomes more common, this has potential to increase use of local shops and services, helping to support the local economy.
= Weakest possible positive contribution = Strongest possible positive contribution
= Weakest possible negative contribution = Strongest possible negative contribution
= No contribution

Appropriate contexts

Appropriate area-types
Area type Suitability
City centre
Dense inner suburb
Medium density outer suburb
Less dense outer suburb
District centre
Corridor
Small town
Tourist town
= Least suitable area type = Most suitable area type

Adverse side effects

A potential adverse side effect identified is that, where the implementation of a cycle network requires use of the existing highway, there may be an increase in the congestion of motorized traffic. In the long term it would be intended that increased cycling levels would help to reduce congestion, but there may be short term impacts during the period of behavioural change. Complementary instruments to discourage use of motorized vehicles in the most congestion areas, such as the city centre traffic restriction adopted in Seville, can help to facilitate a more rapid change in behaviour.

Alliance for Bicycling and Walking (ABW, 2012) Bicycling and walking in the United States 2012 benchmarking report

Anderson, T. (2005) Odense: The National Cycle City of Denmark. Powerpoint presentation made 6 October 2005 at the Annual Conference of the Bicycling Federation of Australia.

BMVIT (2011) What can you do with a cycling budget of EUR 50,000?

Dutch Bicycling Council (2006) Continuous and integral: The cycling policies of Groningen and other European cycling cities. Fietsberaad Publication 7, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

ECF (2013) Calculating the economic benefits of cycling in EU-27

ELTIS (2013) The Munich Cycle Capital Campaign, Germany – Case Study

Flash Eurobarometer (2011) Future of transport – analytical report. EC

Jacobsen, P. (2003) Safety in numbers: more walkers and bicyclists, safer walking and bicycling. Injury prevention 9: p. 205-209

PRESTO (2010) PRESTO cycling policy guide, cycling infrastructure. EU Intelligent Energy Europe

Kirzek, K. (2014) Bicycle infrastructure in Seville. Streets MN

LM (LandeshauptstadtMünchen)(2006) Transport Development Plan

LM (LandeshauptstadtMünchen)(2010) Bicycle Traffic in Munich

Marsh, P.C. & Ritzau-Kjaerulff, T. (2012) Barriers to the creation of a bike-city, a study of Munich’s transport policy

OECD (2004) Implementing sustainable urban travel policies: moving ahead – national policies to promote cycling.

NRVP (2012) Benefits and costs of cycling infrastructure investment. Bundesministerium für Verkehr und digitale Infrastruktur – Nationaler Radverkehrsplan

Pucher, J. and Buehler, R. (2007) At the frontiers of cycling: Policy innovations in The Netherlands, Denmark and Germany. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, Rutgers University, New Jersey, USA.

Pucher, J. et al. (2010) Infrastructure, programs, and policies to increase bicycling: An international review. Preventative Medicine 50 (2010) S106-S125

Transport for London (2014) Transport for London Routes & Maps webpage: http://www.tfl.gov.uk/modes/cycling/routes-and-maps?intcmp=2344 (accessed June 2014)