Bicycle Network: Good Design Guides
Guidance for off-road paths
Here is where we will build up the key reference documents that can help you be effective in getting more people cycling more often.
Boardwalks & Bridges
Bridges and boardwalks help riders cross water, railways and roads that would otherwise require a long detour or a difficult or delayed passage. They often have a combination of curves, slopes, restricted space and reduced visibility that can increase the risk of crashes. A smooth, non-slip riding surface is critical.
Bollards & obstacles in the middle and end of paths
Obstacles in the middle of a path are a hazard for bike riders. Bollards are a prime example. Bicycle Network Victoria does not support the use of bollards or gates at entrances to cycling and shared paths. Too many people have been seriously injured by these hazards.
Building better paths that attract riders
Well built paths and trails attract more people who want to walk, ride their bikes and otherwise get active. Poorly built paths are unsuitable for bike riding or soon become unrideable as the path degrades. Poorly built paths discourage people from riding.
Curves & Bends - Horizontal Alignments of Paths
Tight corners and curves should be avoided on paths. This includes chicanes at the approach to intersections and road crossings which introduce complexity and potential conflict between path users. Chicanes introduced to slow speeding cyclists often introduce other, potentially more serious, hazards. Fixing dangerous curves is often expensive and the solution is usually less safe (and less "elegant") than if done properly from the start (see photos below).
Detours you can follow
Access for bike riders needs to be maintained during major construction works that block bicycle routes (as it is for motor vehicles and pedestrians). Detours for bike riders around construction works need to be clear, smooth and safe. They should be as short as possible in length and duration. Planning for major works must include provision of effective detours for the life of the project.
Directional & Route Signage
Signage alone won't create a bike network but it will help to guide people using existing paths and bike lanes and also help guide people where marked cycle routes are not provided. Directional signage should allow people to find their way without reference to a map.
Emergency Marker Program
Victoria's Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority (ESTA) is rolling out a program of emergency signage in public open spaces, such as parks, and walking and riding trails. The Program will help ESTA respond more quickly to emergency incidents that don't occur near an easily identifiable street address
Fences and Barriers
A fence or barrier may be needed for paths running alongside a steep batter, drop off or other hazard. Fences should not be a hazard themselves - they should present a smooth surface that cannot snag a bike or rider and avoid sharp edges that could cause injury. Fences alongside paths should be 1.4m high (1.2m min.) and set back at least one metre from the edge of the path (0.5m min.).
Hills, Gradients & Slopes
Steep grades are a barrier and potential hazard for bike riders. Riders build up speed on steep descents and may have trouble stopping or staying in control. This may lead to serious crashes. If a hill is too steep, riders will look for a way around. Grades over 5% are only acceptable for short distances. Remember: Not too steep!
Kerb ramps - smooth and gentle
Smooth kerb (or pram) ramps need to be provided when cyclists have to ride from a path down or up to a road surface. There must be no ledges that might deflect a bike wheel. Slopes need to be gentle with a gentle change in grade (smooth invert) at the bottom of the slope. Kerb ramps that are safe for cyclists will also suit those in wheelchairs, pushing prams and those riding smaller wheeled devices such as scooters and children's bikes.
Lateral Clearances (Obstacles too Close to Paths)
Obstacles too close to the edge of a path can pose a significant hazard for path users. At least one metre of clear space must be left each side of a path so that people do not run into obstacles or each other. The minimum safe vertical clearance for a bike rider is 2.5m.
Lighting of paths - see the results
Good lighting of paths reduces the risk of crash in low light conditions and makes people feel safer using the path after dark. A minimum lighting level of 5 Lux is required for paths though higher levels are needed at potential hazards including road crossings. [See end of page for Boroondara Case study.]
Path Crossings of Roads
A path crossing a road needs to meet a number of criteria to be acceptable for all users. Crossing of roads should be clear and simple. Designs must avoid adding unneeded complexity that distracts riders from the crossing itself or adding hazardous elements. This page deals with paths crossing roads away from road intersections.
Paths - Wide Enough for Everyone
Paths for cyclists can be shared with people walking (shared paths) or bicycle only paths. Paths need to be built wide enough to cater for the current and future number of users. The accepted minimum width for shared paths is 2.5m, with paths expecting commuter traffic at least 3.0m wide. Paths with heavy commuter and recreational traffic should be at least 3.5m wide or provide separate paths for cycling and walking.
Rail trail & tourism trail guidelines
Resources for constructing and managing rail trails, sources for funding and rail trail conference notes
Rail trail signage
Rail trails and tourism trails have a range of signage needs
Shared paths: Improving navigation on trails
Guidelines for improving signage and line marking
Shared paths: Key Criteria
Shared paths are used by a variety of users. Often they are incorrectly called bike paths when they are actually (and legally) used by people walking, running, riding bikes and other wheeled vehicles. Engineering guidelines state that a shared path should be: - wide enough (2.5 min width up to 4.0m for popular paths); - relatively straight with clear sight lines; - clear of obstacles in the middle of the trail and alongside it; - preferable sealed (so people on wheels can use it safely).
Surfaces for cycling
A smooth, non- slip surface is critical for safe and comfortable bike riding. New surfaces should not have defects more than 5mm high. For existing surfaces grooves parallel to the direction of travel must be no wider than 12mm and steps no higher than 10mm. Perpendicular to the direction of travel, steps should not be higher than 20mm. For comfortable riding, sealed pavements should not have a stone size more than 10mm diameter and preferably 7mm or less.
Underpasses - just get under it!
Underpasses and overpasses of roads or railways mean that path users do not have to cross at the level of motor vehicle or train. Care needs to be taken to avoid problems with slope, sight distance and clearances (both vertical and horizontal). Underpasses should provide a min. 2.5m vertical (head) clearance, and be at least 3.1m wide.
Who gives way - rider or driver?
When a path crosses a road, who should give way? What factors should influence your decision.