Local Cycle Strategies

A photograph of road signs, by katsdekker on Flickr.A Cycle Strategy spells out policies for planning and/or transport that the relevant authority promises to follow. The typical lifespan of a strategy is ten years and it contains an action plan or programme of works to cover the first 2-5 years in more detail. The length and volume of a strategy can vary from 20 to 100 pages including appendices. 


Why have a strategy?

A good strategy is useful for campaigners as it provides a vision, targets and promises you can engage over with the authority.

The process towards a Cycle Strategy can be as important as the document itself. It brings together groups and individuals, decision-makers and campaigners to create (hopefully) a common vision that everyone will strive towards.

It's good to understand the purpose of the strategy. It might be a planning document, or a transport policy. So ask.

It is also vital to understand who will benefit - “making cycling an option for everyone” would be a gold standard vision and the resulting planned “interventions and measures” (policy / promises) would be geared towards that target.

A strategy should set clear, measurable targets. For example, Sustrans' “More haste, less speed” advocates 20% of short journeys to be done by bike in 10 years (currently national average is 2%) and would certainly qualify as a top notch commitment for any authority.


First question to ask is whether a Cycle Strategy already exists

If No, lobby your authority to create one but be clear and realistic in your own mind what you would want from it too.

If Yes, you could ask for the strategy to be updated if it's nearing its term, and make sure a critical review of the existing strategy is included in the revised / updated version.

The next step would be to get the contents right

Typical content is listed below. The devil however is in the detail. Make sure your authority does not promise too much, or focusses on the wrong promises.

  • vision for example “make cycling possible for everyone”
  • targets for example “get 20% of journeys by bike in 10 years”
  • monitoring and baselining such as number of cycle journeys etc
  • policies / promises - “we will develop a coherent cycle network” or “we will create strategic routes”
  • action plan programming immediate measures for next 2-5 years (that will be audited and adapted throughout the whole lifespan of the strategy)
  • funding and budget mechanisms and sources to deliver the strategy promises

Political buy-in

Make sure that the political approval process is clear and followed, and the Cycle Strategy becomes adopted policy so that it will have standing and status.

It's only after the setting-up of the Cycle Strategy that the authorities and partners' commitment is put to the test. This is where you find out whether the authority (and its individuals and partners) were really serious about the strategy vision, targets and promises felt strongly that more better policy, coordination and structure was required and are convinced of the benefits of cycling and giving cycling a protected priority status.

Yes, the real work starts afterwards!


We are thinking of coming up with a rating mechanism for strategies and an ISO9001 checklist!

And we certainly want your comments. Does your authority have a strategy? Or if not, why not? Post your experience, questions and comments here.



Ashford Borough Cycling Strategy:


Canterbury District Walking and Cycling Strategy:


Dover District Cycling Plan:


Medway Cycling Adoption Plan:


Sevenoaks Cycling Strategy:


Shepway Cycling Plan:


Thanet Cycling Plan:


Tonbridge & Malling Cycling Strategy: