The One-Off 'Guides and Standards and Tools' Roundup

There's an awful lot of guidance out there on building for cycling, and actually quite a few tools for campaigners and those interested in supporting engineers and councils, to look at. This week's round-up is an attempt to gather a reasonably comprehensive list of the things we know about. (We'll also try to tell you all the acronyms, as these pop up in discussions a lot.)

Design Guides

The main, most current UK design guide is Transport for London's LCDS - the London Cycle Design Standards. available as part of TfL's streets toolkit. The LCDS is long, comprehensive, and super useful, but will take you a while to get through.

The Department for Transport has issued the Manual for Streets (MfS and MfS2) though this is much broader than just providing for cycling - many would argue it doesn’t do a good job on the cycling, anyway. You can also check out the infamous LTN 2/08 (LTN means ‘Local Transport Note’) on their website about cycle infrastructure design. Finally, the DfT hosts DMRB - the Design Manual for Bridges and Roads, which is superbly geeky and occasionally useful (and, we understand, due for an upgrade soon). Local authority engineers and planners tend to jump from manual to manual, seemingly depending on whatever suits their situation best. For example, the DMRB is ranking highest, whereas the LTN2/08 for example is only guidance and can be more easily dismissed. The technical details in all of these design documents can be interpreted in many ways.

CycleNation has led a coalition of groups to produce the ‘Making Space for Cycling’ guide, available both as web pages, and as a PDF. Sustrans, meanwhile, has created its own ‘Route Design Resources’ page here, with a couple of sections on cycling. Although over a year old, the guide on cycling for junctions and crossings is still in draft form, though given the amount it seems to talk about painted cycle lanes as if they’re a good universal solution, some might argue that’s how it should stay …

If you want to go straight to the Holy Grail of the Promised Pedal Land, then you should call the Dutch, find €93 +VAT and postage and buy the CROW manual. Don’t rush though - we understand this is due for an update very soon indeed.

South-east Scotland has its own guidance - Cycling Infrastructure: Design Guidance and Best Practice (PDF link), and Transport Scotland has “Cycling By Design (PDF)” Edinburgh has a 2000 document called “Cycle Friendly Design Guide (PDF)”, but there’s sadly nothing friendly about some of the crap designs in it.

Manchester has newer (2014) guidance: Transport for Greater Manchester’s (TfGM) “Cycling Design Guidance (PDF)” and the archive site for Cycling England has a lot of documentation of a certain vintage, here. A lot of the Cycling England content is also available via the Cycling Embassy website, here.

Wales has a very good document in  Active Travel Wales, while Ireland’s National Cycle Manual is also online, if you want to know what happens in nearby, car-obsessed islands ... The US has a group called NACTO, who have their own guides, and there’s 2010’s “PRESTO Cycling Policy Guide (PDF)”, put together by a consortium of European groups,

Cambridge Cycling Campaign, which has been involved in some of the documents described above, has its own (now a bit old) page of links, including a useful guide to cycle parking which is Cambridge specific, and hasn’t been entirely superseded by LCDS guidelines.

Almere Consulting’s Tom Bailey has also produced an excellent guide called “I’d love to cycle there: planning for active travel” (PDF).

Ipswich Borough Council have adopted their own Cycling Strategy SPD, which is primarily aimed at new developments, and changes to current infrastructure on the rare occasions money becomes available. This was partly produced due to the lack of detail in the Suffolk Cycling Strategy by the highways authority, Suffolk County Council.

In Newcastle, newcycling is campaigning for the city council to adopt LCDS as a stopgap measure for inconsistent council designs. Newcycling also lobbies their council for a Strategic Cycle Network to be adopted into planning policy.

The question we have been asking ourselves: why are there so many design documents out there? Some better, some worse. The Cycling Embassy campaigns for one document, a binding standard, to be adopted throughout the whole of Great Britain. The essence of what that document would look like, we believe, is found in the Dutch CROW, especially the Sustainable Safety principle. We believe a national standard is the way forward. It would do away with the local guesswork, chopping and choosing. It would mean that road layouts look similar and feel safe everywhere for cycling.


There are some great tools out there, too. Like Streetmix, which lets you see how a street can look with different types of allocation, from turning lanes, to bus lanes, to proper cycle lanes. Other things you might hear about include “CLoS’ and ‘CEAT’. The CLoS - Cycling Level of Service - audit is available from TfL and is described in this PDF. There’s a handy spreadsheet hosted by London Cycling, which you can use to complete it, when you need a clear view of whether a route is fit for purpose, and why not. The same manual (PDF) contains a ‘Junction Assessment Tool’ (JAT) The “Cycling Environment Assessment Tool” - CEAT - has been built by CycleNation, and allows you to put in clear data about a route, to understand whether it’s likely to be used for cycling.

And the World Health Organisation has HEAT - the Health Economic Assessment Tool, which allows you to look at the health benefits of walking and cycling.

In Summary

The most important ones are, we think:

CROW - CROW manual

LCDS - London Cycle Design Standards London Cycle Design Standards

S4C - Space for Cycling - Making Space for Cycling

And then …

MfS - Manual for Streets MfS

DMRB - Design Manual for Bridges and Roads

LTN 2/08 - Local Transport Note LTN 2/08

Finally …

We at the Cycling Embassy are trialling ‘Slack’ as a tool for collaboration. If you’d like to join our Slack, drop me an email on from the email you want to use.

And really finally, if you want some useful cartoons, Dave Walker has some great ones at Cycling Cartoons, and Lizzie had the pithiest analysis of how to decide if a piece of infrastructure is up to standard: “Would my Mum be happy to cycle here?”  


I'd actually put the Welsh Active Travel Guidance up with the LCDS.

The design elements section has a symbol in the top right hand corner stating wherther that particular element (say a bent out junction crossing) is 'standard' i.e. "details that are well understood and should generally be applied as shown unlessthere are particular reasons for local variation", 'suggested' - "details that are not widely used [in Wales] but may be considered appropriate for use in the circumstances advised, and finally 'possible details' - "details that are largely untested [in Wales] but have been used successfully in other places and may be considered for use in pilot schemes to gain further experience".

This should help guage the likely reaction when suggesting a measure to a local authority engineer, and how hard you might need to push to try and get it included in a scheme.

Something I've also recently become aware of is CycleRAP, which appears to be similar to the EuroRAP safety rating for highways, unfortunately all information on it seems to be in Dutch at present.


"The Cycling Embassy campaigns for one document, a binding standard, to be adopted throughout the whole of Great Britain. The essence of what that document would look like, we believe, is found in the Dutch CROW, especially the Sustainable Safety principle."

Yes, yes, yes!  This is absolutely what is needed.  It is important to benchmark the world class standard of what has been proven to work effectively.

One minor correction:  There are five principles of Sustainable Safety; the plural should have been used in the above quote.  For details, see:

Here is an Aussie example where we try build on what we've learned from our Dutch and Danish compadres: