A bicycle network is the essential foundation of providing for cycling. Cycle routes should go where people want to travel to and from, without delay, diversion or danger.

The CROW manual suggests three main requirements for a bicycle network -

  • cohesion 
  • directness
  • safety


‘Cohesion’ refers to the way in which a bicycle network connects with people’s points of departure and arrival. The CROW manual recommends a grid width of no more than 250m for a cycle network to have adequate cohesion (i.e., nobody should have to travel more than 250m to reach the bicycle network). It also suggests that if around 70% of all bike journeys are made on the network, then the network is of a sufficient quality.

These requirements for a ‘grid’ only apply within urban areas; in rural areas only direct links are needed between villages and destinations.


A bicycle network must be direct, both in terms of distance, and in terms of time.

The CROW manual suggests a ‘detour factor’ as a way of measuring directness (or lack of it). This is the distance between two points on the network, divided by the distance as the crow flies. 1.2 is the recommended target, but in practice this is difficult to achieve. Detour factors should not exceed 1.4 to 1.5.

Directness in terms of time refers to minimising the amount of delay at junctions. For all kinds of cycle routes, the amount of times people cycling have to stop, or do not have right of way, should be as close to zero as is possible, although in practice this will, of course, be hard to achieve.


Here the principles of sustainable safety (duurzam veilig) are applied.

  • Vehicle types should be separated, either through physical separation on main roads, or through removal of motor traffic from residential streets that can form useful parts of the bicycle network in their own right).
  • Avoid conflicting movements, particularly with crossing traffic. The degree of danger of a network is closely related to the number of junctions, and the volume of bicycle and motor traffic crossing paths. Where conflicting movements are inevitable, speed should be reduced.
  • Ensure recognisable road categories.

Beyond these three main requirements, a bicycle network should also ensure comfort, and be attractive. 


This means little interaction with motor traffic; no noise or pollution. Cycle routes should also be easily navigable, with good signage, and also understandable.


This refers both to the attractiveness of the environment, and social safety. Cycle routes should be routed through areas of high public safety; well-maintained, and well-lit.