LCDS - early chapters and verse

LCDS draft cover

The draft London Cycling Design Standards are out for consultation and we’ve started reading. The meaty infrastructural sections are chapters 3 to 5, but let’s start at the beginning. The first two chapters are pleasingly critical and disarmingly honest in places but may also leave a ‘transitional aftertaste’ in the reader’s mouth, as there are also sections that sound apologetic and lack the confidence the (draft) standards should be oozing.


Chapter 1 - design requirements

This chapter sees an early mention of “high quality infrastructure” in the second sentence (page 2). This is a decent start.

Yet the document then surprisingly advocates wide bus / cycle lanes as a solution (page 9) when this has been largely discounted (or never introduced) in countries with high cycling rates. The PRESTO series also advises against shared lanes under most circumstances, and describes bus / cycle lanes as a transitional solution at best.

A statement with lacking confidence is found on page 10 – discussing separation methods for cycling. The need to express that “some busy, narrow roads can never be truly made safe for cyclists” seems quite dubious. As the decision to create of a true cycle network is largely taken by meeting ‘core design outcomes’ in conjunction with traffic volume, speed, vehicle type, a negative statement like this is not necessary and should be removed.

The ‘nine street type’ methodology taken from the Road Task Force and outlined on page 13 is a sound concept. The breakdown is perhaps still quite a bit too general, but provides a good framework nonetheless for discussion about the purpose of a road: is it a place, or movement, or somewhere in between?

Yet there is a hint at a two-tier network in the description of the Quietways (that are to complement the Superhighways). The Quietways the draft states “are principally not aimed at existing fast, confident cyclists”. This could easily be read as a patronising “Boris-type” statement favouring the fit and the brave. I’d feel the document could be more inclusive if it were removed.

The thorny issue over a local authority’s duty to secure the “expeditious movement of traffic” is dealt with on page 21 where ‘traffic’ is “explicitly defined as including pedestrians, cyclists and motorised vehicles”. A wider resolution of this hang-up from the 60s Golden Age of Motoring is not sought, thereby leaving it in the road safety and cycling campaigners’ hands to deal with.

The first chapter ends with listing the Disability Discrimination Act and the Equality Act. Finding in the text these bits of legislation that support inclusivity must be a good sign for taking responsibilities seriously to provide adequate facilities.



Chapter 2 - tools and techniques

More processes are introduced in this chapter. The delivery steps of the cycle infrastructure are sensibly outlined on page 25. Confusingly three Mini-Hollands are then described in addition to the Superhighways and Quietways. How these discrete areas meaningfully feed into the overall network creation (other than offering three temporary test beds) is unclear.

Then the Cycling Level of Service (CLoS) procedure is described. It is an audit system and links to the six outcomes: safety, directness, comfort, coherence, attractiveness, adaptability (the latter being the addition to the list otherwise taken from the Dutch CROW manual). A full matrix is then set out, further breaking down the outcomes on pages 31 and 32. This matrix, attached below, is worth a better look and warrants a consultation in its own right.

Junction assessment is another interesting process (page 33) that the document introduces. The procedure outlined looks worthwhile and offers another decision-making tool by visualising, quantifying and putting something on the table for discussion. Various other methods then follow quickly one by one: mesh density analysis, accessibility classification, area porosity analysis, CLoS audit, ending by giving an example.

On page 49 it does appear that vision communication and early community engagement may have been missed out from the delivery process that entirely focuses on engineering project stages.



The first two chapters may open a window into what’s to come. Judging by the mixed quality of the content and its focus on creating order, it will be interesting to see how this is translated into the coming chapters dealing with infrastructure solutions.

PDF icon LCDS_draft_CLoS.pdf67.34 KB