We should be creating networks of cycle routes on quiet back streets

This is a draft Wiki article which any member can contribute to and which should not be assumed to represent official Cycling Embassy policy.

Summary of the claim

In cities, a better cycle campaigning strategy than asking for Dutch-style infrastructure on main roads would be to ask for networks of well-signed quiet back-street cycle routes. They are more likely to gain political support, could be implemented more quickly and cheaply, and, with less noise and pollution, would be more pleasant to ride on.

Example sources

Summary of responses

  1. Cyclists and cycle campaigners disagree about a lot of things, but one thing that unites almost all is the importance of direct and easy to follow routes in order to make journeys competitive in time and effort.
  2. Copenhagen attempted to support cycling with back-street routes, but uptake was low, and their cycling renaissance was only achieved with attractive dedicated cycling infrastructure on the most direct main routes.
    “The city of Copenhagen has had some bad experience with ‘back street’ solutions. In 1995 an experiment was carried out when a bicycle route was implemented using back streets in a high density residential area. As it was not possible to ‘move’ at least some of the cyclists from the main road, this solution was abandoned as a new general principle for further improvements for cyclists in Copenhagen. Niels Jensen from the City of Copenhagen’s Road Division gives the following advice to other cities: “The routes must be direct to busy main streets. It is a mistake to hope the routes will be used if the back streets are not made safe and secure. This may include measures such as speed reductions for cars and restrictions on car parking to give room for cyclists. However, facilities along busy main roads are in my opinion the best solution for cyclists.” [1] [2]
  3. Many local authorities in the UK, including London Boroughs, have created networks of signed quiet street routes. Their experiences are mixed, and tell of the power and the limits of this approach.

In more detail

1 http://www.eaue.de/winuwd/175.htm (‘Barriers & Conflicts’)

2 EA.UE 1998: Urban transport in central and eastern Europe. Policy handbook, Berlin