Bicycle Network: Good Design Guides
On-road: It can be done
A guide to fitting bike lanes on existing roads
February 2013 - Since 1996 our thinking has progressed - see our page on providing for bikes on roads. We now recognise that more separation from busy traffic is needed to allow children, family groups and less confident people to ride their bikes. The approaches and techniques are still mostly valid but the ways of marking space should include enhanced bike lanes, separated bike lanes and paths rather than soley on-road lanes and advisory markings that only suit a small proportion of the general population.
It Can Be Done: The 1996 A bicycle network on arterial roads
Cyclists need a safe place to ride on the roads. There is no question that cyclists use roads and are permitted on roads - bicycles are vehicles under the law. But on busy roads there is often no clearly defined space for cyclists to use.
Bicycle Network Victoria developed the 'It Can Be Done' booklet in 1996 to tackle the notion that bike lanes could not be built on main roads, and build support for the completion of the on-road network.
The book shows how a usable on road bike network could be built in a cost effective way and laid out the techniques for building Melbourne's Principal Bicycle Network.
The Principal Bicycle Network is a planned network of bike routes on 2,000 kilometres of roads in metropolitan Melbourne where VicRoads and local government will make provision for cycling. In 2004 the Network was about 25% finished.
Since the publication of 'It Can Be Done' the Victorian Government has established an annual, ongoing funding commitment to retrofit bike lanes to the Principal Bicycle Network and VicRoads have published Cyclenotes Number 9 - creating on-road space for cyclists, based on the principles of the book.
A usuable bicycle network must provide cyclists and potential cyclists with routes that are:
- coherent (they must connect with other routes and destinations)
- direct (they must take you where you want to go and they can't be too circuitous)
- safe (and perceived to be safe, this usually means separation from fast traffic or a slow speed environment)
- comfortable (a smooth surface and some space to manoeuvre)
- attractive (a nice place to ride that is at least as attractive as alternatives).
The nine techniques for finding space for on-road cycling can be divided into three approaches with different relative costs:
- Shifting space - rearranging the existing space on the road would give us 56% of the network and is the most cost effective way of finding space for bicycles
- Trading space - finding space for bikes by trading off with competing needs such as parking or motor vehicle travel lanes would give us 34% of the network at a higher cost due to relatively expensive treatments such as widening roads or indenting parking
- Alternative space - finding an alternate space off would give us 10% of the network again at a higher cost due to more expensive localised treatments such as upgrading difficult intersections and squeeze points and providing off-road paths.
Our analysis of a 20% sample of the PBN in 1996 estimated that 2,000kms of on-road routes would costs $70m. Shifting space by remarking traffic lanes or parking lanes would deliver a third of the PBN at a mere 3.3% of the total cost.
In 2004 many of these 'easier' projects have been completed and the focus has shifted to finishing the more complicated and expensive sections of the network that involve trading space and finding alternative space.
The nine techniques derived from the three approaches are:
Techniques 1-3 - Shifting Space
Techniques 4-8 - Trading Space
Technique 9 - Alternative Space
Four ways of marking space for bikes
The four ways of marking the space:
exclusive bike lane
shared bicycle/parking lane
bike lane on a sealed shoulder
wide kerbside lane.