Pedestrian and Cycle Movement

In new residential areas, pedestrian and cycle movement should be coherent, direct, safe, comfortable and attractive. The pages in this section outline the design guidelines for how this can be achieved identifying considerations around pedestrians and cycles, cycle movement in developments and design principles.

Route design should overcome any physical barriers to pedestrian and cycle movement while taking into account topography, the lighting of routes and appropriate shelter, seating and resting points. The latter in particular should be accessible to and suitable for users of all ages and a range of physical and mental abilities. It is worth noting that this may result in the creation of less direct but flatter routes.

Direct routes should be provided to local facilities and adjacent neighbourhoods in such a way that it is more convenient and attractive to walk or cycle than to drive to such destinations.

The overarching aim should be to discourage the use of cars for local trips and to encourage walking and cycling between homes and local facilities. It is also important to ensure good accessibility and multiple pedestrian and cycle access points to residential areas from major roads.

A wealth of cycling infrastructure is available to designers; for more information, refer to Sustrans’ ‘Guide to Cycle Friendly Infrastructure’  and ‘Essex Cycling Strategy’  documents.

Pedestrians and Cycles

With regard to the protection of the ageing population, people of reduced mobility, the partially sighted, the blind and people with dementia, the clear demarcation and identification of pedestrian routes is essential. Therefore it can be preferable not to locate cycle and walking lanes beside each other.

Cycle Movement in Developments

Designers need to ensure that they understand what cyclists need and how they behave, i.e. widths required by cyclists, visibility needs at junctions, preferred gradients, low-speed manoeuvres, parking manoeuvres etc.

In addition, designers need to understand the characteristics of a cycle network and should demonstrate how their proposals will enhance existing strategic networks in Essex. For more information, refer to the suite of cycling plans created by Essex County Council.

Networks within new developments should link to the wider community while providing access to and through local centres. This often requires the introduction of mixed-priority streets, direct connections, filtered permeability, area-wide 20mph limits, cycle-friendly junctions, on- and off-carriageway cycle tracks and traffic-free routes. As a rule, developments should maximise route opportunities with secure and convenient cycle-parking at both ends.

Designers should consider the principles that underpin cycle-friendly design and how they can be applied to route design and development. The central principles of cycle-friendly design seek to encourage routes that are coherent, direct, safe, comfortable and attractive.

The following principles have been adapted from the Sustrans publication ‘Principles and processes for cycle friendly design’ and are recognised as industry standards.

Table below shows the core cycle-friendly design principles.

Criteria Description Typical measures
  • Link all potential origins and destinations
  • Be continuous and recognisable 
  • Offer a consistent standard of protection throughout 
  • Be properly signposted
  • Include well located cycle parking
  • Continuity of suitable provision along the route
  • Routes through areas inaccessible to motor traffic  
  • Route must be recognisable - and ideally intuitive enough that cyclists do not need to depend on frequent signing 
  • Be based on desire lines
  • Result in minimum detours or delays
  • Provide a positive advantage in terms of directness and priority over motor traffic
  • Cyclist being able to maintain an appropriate speed
  • Minimised delays in junctions and crossings
  • Route not perceived as a detour (this may include a trade-off between distance and gradient)
  • Be safe and be perceived as safe
  • Provide personal security
  • Limit conflict between cyclist, pedestrians and other vehicles 
  • Reduce traffic speed and volume
  • Relocation of road space as the norm
  • Safe provision at crossing and junctions
  • Adequate width, forward visibility and turning radii on traffic-free routes
  • Provide lighting where used for utility trips
  • Be smooth, non-slip, well maintained, drained and free of debris
  • Offer sufficient width for the level of use
  • Offer an easy gradient
  • Be designed to avoid complicated manoeuvres
  • Enable cyclists to maintain momentum
  • Minimise impact of noise, spray and headlight-dazzle from other traffic
  • Dropped kerbs are flush
  • Minimise requirement to give way at junctions
  • Adequate turning radii
  • Lighting on routes used for commuting and utility trips
  • Attention to detail
  • Be attractive and interesting 
  • Integrate with and complement their surroundings
  • Contribute to good urban design
  • Enhance personal security
  • Be well maintained
  • A pleasant environment for cyclist exposed to their surroundings
  • Incorporate green space and trees
  • Be situated in front of buildings rather than behind them 


Design Principles

This diagram illustrates how traffic volume and speed should influence decisions about the segregation of cyclists from other traffic. It also demonstrates how the restraint of traffic speeds and volumes may be used to create conditions likely to encourage new and novice cyclists to use the carriageway.

Cycle Links and Designs

Incorporating the relevant infrastructure from the outset is key to the success of both pedestrian and cycle routes – as are adequate storage/cycle-parking facilities.

In new developments, good design can create opportunities for children to cycle to school unaided and unaccompanied – unfortunately, unsafe routes and a lack of safe cycle-parking at or near schools can prevent this becoming a reality.

Note: an Essex Cycle Design portal is currently in development.

Page updated: 30/07/2019

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