Designing for Cycle Traffic

I’ve just run my very first campaign as the new Campaigns and Communications Secretary of the Aberdeen Cycle Forum. The campaign was to raise money for the purchase of two books on Designing for Cycle Traffic for the Aberdeen City Council and the Aberdeenshire Council. If you check our Go Fund Me page we raised the money in just 2 days!


I’m so thrilled about this – not just because the book looks terrific and is just what our transport planners need – but also because it shows we have strong community support for cycling infrastructure. I’ve ordered the books already and once they’ve arrived I’ll set up a time to hand them over.

When our local authorities design for cycling the result is often very poor. Something they do a lot here is put cyclists on the pavement with pedestrians but this creates new problems because pedestrians complain that cyclists are going too fast. The author of the book Designing for Cycle Traffic says, “The most important principle any designer should recognise is that ‘the bicycle is a vehicle capable of speed’. This should be etched onto the desk of every designer because its implications are huge.”

For high cycling modal share we need to meet two main requirements:

  1. Cycling must be safe and to do this we need segregated infrastructure that separates bicycles from much heavier and faster vehicles.
  2. Cycling must be efficient and to achieve this cycle paths must be direct (not winding side roads) and cyclists should not be forced to dismount or weave around pedestrians. Cycling is about maintaining momentum. Indeed if you slow down too much on a bike it’s hard to balance. Forcing cyclists onto a busy pavement causes loss of momentum and efficiency, creates conflict between cyclists and pedestrians, and reduces the attractiveness of cycling.

Good design is so important. Otherwise we end up with outcomes like this:

If you want to read more about the book go to:

There’s also a good podcast here:


6 thoughts on “Designing for Cycle Traffic”

  1. Well done on the campaign!
    My current favourite (not) situation is coming out the end of the cycle path and being decanted straight into the path of traffic. Eg where there is a hedge “screen” so you can’t see what is coming to time a smooth transition into the road.

    1. That sounds like a very bad design. It amazes me what passes as safe cycling infrastructure. I think things are slowly starting to improve but there’s so much legacy stuff around that needs to be fixed.

      1. What is hilarious/frustrating/saddening is that it’s a new path!! I think there is this obsession that bikes are dangerous things that need to be slowed down or hidden, also hence those barriers you picture. I’ve been knocked off by those things catching my handlebars in the past 😦

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