Mapping levels of cycle provision

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Mapping levels of cycle provision

I have been inspired by an email discussion to create a map of the London Borough of Southwark, showing where it's currently possible / desirable to cycle.

Mostly, this will involve local cyclists who are familiar with them giving me judgments for individual roads / junctions. I'd like to use something like sallyhinch's suggested colour coding scheme:

  • 'would cycle here with kids' (green)
  • 'would cycle here happily as an adult cyclist but not with kids' (yellow)
  • 'takes skill and confidence to cycle here' (red)'
  • 'avoid cycling here if at all possible' (black)

However, I'd like to come up with some concrete criteria for judging it. It's been made clear to me that whilst I, as an adult cyclist, would not cycle 'happily' on a road with 90 buses/hour down it, other people think that's absolutely fine. So judgments for different roads could vary wildly without some guidelines.

(Also, if the categories are fixed, it makes it easier to compare different places. If anyone would, at some point in the future, like to make one for somewhere like Gronigen, NL to more easily visually demonstrate the difference to politicians et al, that could be very useful.)

What criteria would you recommend?

Some initial thoughts: 

Green roads:

20mph & fewer than ? PCU/day & no pinch points or hard segregation from traffic, at least 2m unidirectional / ?m bidirectional (if no junctions). (Example: Brighton's Shoreham Road path)

Green junctions:

20mph, sight lines of at least ? m & fewer than ? PCU/day or a separate phase or physically no possiblity of left hooks and no need to cross traffic lanes. (Example: a dead-end road splits off from another dead-end road.)

Yellow roads are Yellow, not Green, if any of the following apply:

  • between ? and ? PCU/day without segregation
  • segregation too narrow
  • segregation from high traffic volumes /speeds only 'light' segregation
  • traffic speeds of 30mph without segregation
  • somewhat poor surfacing
  • side roads have poor visibility / do not give way to cyclists

E.g. The Drive, Brighton

Black roads: 70mph or more than 3 lanes of traffic or more than ? PCU/day or more than ? HGV/day or anywhere there have been multiple deaths in the last 5 years or ?

Black junctions: Anywhere there have been multiple deaths in the last 5 years or ...?


redrobin's picture

One factor that should be considered is how useful the road is to get to somewhere important. This would show whether the decent cycling infrastructure is actually in a useful place or not, and whether the routes the greatest number of people need to use have decent infra.

Perhaps this could be indicated with pale indicating a less-important road and dark indicating a more-important road. So quiet residential dead-ends, which are pleasant to cycle along but useless for going anywhere, would be pale yellow, whereas the main cross-town road with high speed limits and no segregation would be a deep red.

I also think that the number of HGVs likely to be passing should be one of the criteria; it's a lot less pleasant to be passed by a lorry than a car.  I'm not sure if this is taken into account in PCU counts, but if not it should be an additional criterion.


I agree, and that is probably Stage 2 of the process. For campaigning reasons, highlighting desire lines is very important. But hopefully this will also serve as a useful tool for non-cyclists planning their first local bike trips, so I don't want to visually overcomplicate it.

I think it would be useful to have overlay of desire lines, schools, shopping areas and railway stations.

I suspect the lack of joined-up provision will be obvious without the overlay, but I hope to delve into TfL's journey records, and show where in the Borough many people would like to cycle, but don't have the provision & so use public transport instead.


PCU counts are 1 for a car, and I think 2 for a bus or HGV? I seem to remember some discussion of increasing that ratio, but I'm not sure where. But I agree that a separate HGV (and probably bus) count would be useful, if it exists. Any ideas on what the desired maximums should be?

Green routes: 0 HGVs and 6 buses/hour?


You might be interested in reading these discussions. There plans to make a map based on OSM tech. Starting small with just rating existing cycle routes, but later could expand to rating junctions and extras.


It's an interesting exercise, but I don't know how much you add by using 'concrete' criteria (apart from making a huge amount of work for yourself getting things like traffic counts...).  Perhaps having a few people look at the map, making sure you've got a spread of abilities and groups (parents, older people, men and women) and then averaging their judgement might help? (that's how we drew up the Dumfries one). Although people will all have different levels of tolerance for road conditions, most agree which roads are more/less pleasant than others, so once you have to put them into one of 4 categories, a fairly high degree of consensus should emerge. Of course, that approach wouldn't really fit so well into something like OSM

For those interested, the result of the mapping exercise for Dumfries is here

AKA TownMouse

pete owens

It would be worth using the existing mapping standard:

It was first used for the cycle map of Cheltenham:

and a number of places have followed suit including Warrington:



That's interesting but looks a little out of date to me as it seems to concentrate entirely on the road conditions and not on any cycle facilities - for instance Old Shoreham Road and other routes in Brighton where hybrid tracks have been built and  which are pretty cycle-friendly now, would be marked as more hostile because of high traffic volumes. Perhaps it needs to be updated? 

AKA TownMouse

pete owens

The standard is designed to include ALL routes that may be used by cyclists, so most certainly does include cycle facilities. While the roads are coloured in pale pastel shades (so you can read street names and so on) off road routes are shown in dark bold colours at about half width. The grading is as follows:

Red - Cycle track running parallel to a road

Red dashed - shared use footway

Green - "Greenway" tarmac surfaced path away from the road

Brown - Surfaced (but not tarmac) path away from the road

Brown dashed - Bridleway - legally permissable route, but probably slow going.

Blue - pedestrian route (useful short cut throughs that can link other routes)

The only facilities not shown explicitly on the map are painted on-carrageway cycle lanes. This is dealt with by adjusting the grading of the road they are painted on. In most cases it makes no difference, but a dangerously narrow cycle lane through a pinch point might push a road up a grade while a wide cycle lane created be reallocating one lane of a dual carriageway would improve the level of service.

Taking the example of Old Shoreham Road: Before the facility was introduced the road would have been graded Blue (It was a fairly busy road, with wide lanes, traditional junctions, and double yellows - ie no particularly cycle hostile design features).  

If the hybrid lane was a 2m wide painted cycle lane it might just justify changing the colour of the road to green depending on the volume of traffic. However, for the most part it is separated by a kerb so should be mapped as an off road facility. At some points, such as narrow bridges and through bus stops it would be dashed to indicate shared use. I'm not sure whether the remainder would be considered of sufficient quality to count as a cycle track - solid red line. If the road was very busy, riding on the now narrower carriageway would now be more hostile so might possibly be regraded to pink.

Where the hybrid track DOES simply run into on-carriagway painted cycle lanes running into ASLs at the approach to traffic lights this wouldn't be sufficient to alter the grading one-way or the other.



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