London Cycling Campaign welcomes new cycling design standards, but enforcement is key


Finally after years of waiting the London Cycling Design Standards have been published. This is Transport for London's guide for making our streets better for people on bikes.

London Cycling Campaign Chief Executive Ashok Sinha responded by saying:

“We greatly welcome the new London Cycle Design Standards (LCDS). We will be examining the details carefully but if the new LCDS genuinely sets the bar high so that everyone in London, whatever their age or ability, has the opportunity to cycle safely and enjoyably for all their everyday journeys, then it could have a profound impact.”

However, he added “a difficulty will be the fact that the proposed new standards are not legally binding, meaning that the Mayor will need to use his authority to ensure uptake of these standards – assuming that detailed analysis does indeed give them a clean bill of health.”

In terms of ambition, the rhetoric reads well: the consultation document says that “the overall aim is to plan and deliver a London-wide network for cycling that meets with aspirations for infrastructure that is safe, comfortable, direct, coherent, attractive and adaptable”. It goes on to say that TfL's aim is to plan not just for existing cyclists, but to “entice new cyclists onto the network” by making “better, safer streets for all”. This appears to signal the kind of coherent, London-wide approach that LCC has been calling for.

Emphasising the need for a London-wide, high quality approach, the document says that TfL seeks to “promote an integrated and ambitious approach to delivering high quality infrastructure for cycling in all parts of London” adding that “success will be measured by the quality of design outcomes – how well infrastructure performs in practice and the service level it provides.” 

The most impressive requirement in the new standards is the Cycling Level of Service assessment (CLoS). LCC has lobbied for Go Dutch and Space for Cycling and the CLoS scheme allows a measure of the cyclability any existing street and how well plans for improvement will work.

London Cycling Campaign has, for many years, been using a simple quick assesment tool to provide feedback on routes and super highways. This was developed into our Go Ducth assessment tool used on the more complex routes. The new Design Standards CLoS tool takes these ideas to a new level. Every street can be given a cyclability score out of 100 and junctions can be scored out of 36. Typical London streets score in the low 20s while average Dutch streets score in the 80s or higher. We can now measure how far we need to go.

LCC welcomes this recognition of the need to prioritise quality and hopes this means an end to the ‘blue paint’ approach that has so let down cyclists in the past.

We welcome the assessment tools but will still demand higher standards, particularly on volumes and speed of traffic mixing with cycling.  This is a critical factor in the CLoS measure but only the very highest scoring route will meet the 2000PCU at less than 20mph demanded by LCC members at last year's AGM. We will be lobbying for higher standards, to be expressed in levels of potential risk not just vehicles per day as in the draft standard.

The new guidance also has designs for a cycle safe junction. We will be examining this very carefully. Junctions are where there is most risk to cyclists especially under British road rules that fail to allow equal priority for all road users.

LCC will be posting a full analysis of the new LCDS shortly.