CLoS - Cycling Level of Service tools

Based largely on LCC's Love London, Go Dutch principles, the Cycling Level of Service (CLoS) is now a crucial tool for planners and cycle campaingers.

Chapter 2 of the London Cycling Design Standards (LCDS) provides guidance on network and route planning, land use planning and the Cycling Level of Service assessment Chapter 2 - Tools and techniques (PDF 1MB)

The chapter sets out the five steps necessary for developing a coherent cycle network:

  • Review of existing conditions
  • Mesh density analysis
  • Accessibility classification audit
  • Area porosity analysis
  • Cycling Level of Service assessment

The CLoS spreadsheet

London Cycling Campaign have prepared a CLoS assessment spreadsheet for download. The LCDS guidance also sets out how to assess every junction and score the risk to cyclists turning or going straight ahead.

Scoring the Cycling Level of Service

CLoS is based on the six design outcomes of safety, directness, coherence, comfort, attractiveness and adaptability. It then breaks down each into specific factors.

At the next level of detail are indicators that can be used to measure performance against each factor. For example, the ‘safety’ element contains three factors: collision risk, feeling of safety and social safety.

CLoS focuses on environments that would entice new cyclists to switch journeys from other modes and maintain this modal shift for the long term.

As the spreadsheet shows, each indicator has a set of descriptions and score values - either 0, 1 or 2. The ‘basic’ level of service, or zero score, may trigger the need for improvement, but this depends on the overall context of the route and of the project.

Users are encouraged to set expectations that are ambitious while also being achievable.

Zero scores should be considered as not meeting the required standard for programmes and projects funded under the Mayor’s Vision for Cycling but there may be some latitude in exceptional circumstances.

Zero scores should generally be a prompt for examining whether the factor in question will have a negative impact on the propensity to cycle.

Certain factors also have ‘critical’ scores, which describe circumstances that should be a cause for particular concern.

Clients and designers must address these as a priority, even if only to ‘lift’ them to a zero score as an interim measure - a scheme that registers as ‘critical’ on any one indicator has not met the required standard. 

To be given greater weighting in the scoring system, it is suggested that the 0, 1 or 2 scores should, for critical factors, be multiplied by three.

CLOS Encounters

The following article by Rosie Downes appeared in the Autumn 2015 edition of London Cyclist magazine.

Based largely on LCC's Love London, Go Dutch principles, the Cycling Level of Service (CLoS) is now a crucial tool for planners and cycle campaingers.

We know all too well that cycling provision can leave a lot to be desired - narrow cycle tracks, routes that give up at junctions, barriers that cause access issues. In 2013, following the success of our Love London, Go Dutch mayoral election campaign, we were told by Ben Plowden, Transport for London's director of surface transport, that TfL were "looking at the remaining Cycle Superhighways […] and other junctions in the Junction Review where we are seeing how far we can incorporate the Go Dutch principles". In response, we developed our Love London, Go Dutch matrix, a quick way of assessing proposed infrastructure projects or options against the Love London, Go Dutch principles. The ten Love London, Go Dutch principles were translated into 37 criteria across Safety, Best Practice, Adaptability, Easy Passage, Calm Junctions, Harmony with pedestrians, Harmony with public transport, Quality of life, Commitment and Engagement.

After this was published, Transport for London began consultation on its own London Cycling Design Standards, including a Cycling Level of Service Assessment tool - which TfL itself say was heavily influenced by our very own Love London, Go Dutch matrix. The London Cycling Design Standards state:

"A Cycling Level of Service (CLoS) assessment has been developed in order to set a common standard for the performance of cycling infrastructure for routes and schemes, and for individual junctions. The purpose of the CLoS assessment is to frame discussion about design options so that schemes are appealing for existing cyclists and can entice new cyclists onto the network. It should be used on any scheme that has an impact on the street environment…. CLoS builds on the knowledge of existing systems such as the CIHT Cycle Audit and Cycle Review, the London Cycling Campaign's User Quality Audit and 'Love London, Go Dutch' matrix and the Dutch 'Bicycle Balance' system."

Although the assessment is designed for highway authorities or consultants, the tool is exceptionally useful for activists - using TfL's own tools to highlight poor cycling provision to TfL themselves or to communicate to local authority officers or elected representatives problems with local schemes using a TfL tool can be extremely effective. The assessment isn't perfect: our two major issues with it are the scoring system and the measure of motor traffic volumes. Where TfL put an element with a score of 0 in their basic category, we believe it should be scored as poor; their 'good' category for elements that score 1 should be 'basic', and their 'highest' should be good. London Cycling Campaign policy says that cyclists should not have to mix with motor traffic above 2000 'passenger car units' per day, and where traffic volumes are above this either protected space must be provided or measures taken to reduce the volume of motor traffic. The Cycling Level of Service assessment falls short of this, allowing 500-1000 vehicles per hour at the peak to achieve a 'basic' Cycling Level of Service, with a 'good' score being achieved with 200-500 vehicles per hour at the peak and 'highest' at under 200 vehicles per hour at peak.

Overall, though, it's a very useful tool for activists to be able to rate schemes and plans and make the case for better provision for cycling. In June 2015, LCC facilitated a training session led by Brian Deegan, Principal Technical Planner at Transport for London and co-author of the London Cycling Design Standards, which was attended by 35 activists, including representatives from groups in each of the mini-Holland boroughs. We ran a second version of the session at our campaigners' conference on Saturday 17th October 2015.