The Design Manual for Bicycle Traffic

The Design Manual for Bicycle traffic, published by CROW, states:

2.4 The bicycle and sustainable safety

A sustainable safe road network is based on the following principles:

  • Functionality of roads: monofunctionality of roads in a hierarchically structured road network
  • Homogeneity of mass and/or direction and speed: equality in speed, direction and mass at moderate to high speeds.
  • Willingness to forgive of the surroundings and road users among themselves: limitation of injury due to a willingness to forgive of the surroundings and road users anticipation of the      behaviour of others.
  • Recognisability of the design of the road and predictability of how the road continues and the behaviour of road users: surroundings and the behaviour of other road users who satisfy the expectations of road users by means of consistency and continuity of the road design
  • Status acknowledgement by the traffic participant: the ability to estimate task proficiency

There is now general agreement on dividing the road network into three categories for motorised traffic, namely:

  • Distributor roads

These are designed to ensure a continuous, uninterrupted flow of traffic at a relatively high speed.

This means that the road has separate directions of flow, there is no crossing traffic and a relatively homogenous group of road users.

Cyclists are not permitted on distributor roads, they cross them by means of overpasses or tunnels.

  • District access roads

These roads are used for flow and exchange.

However, these functions are separated spatially: the flow takes place on the road sections, the exchange on the intersections.

On road sections, as much as possible is done to meet the requirements of a distributor road: separate directions of flow, there is no crossing traffic and a relative homogenous group of road users.

At the exchange points (intersections and crossings) speed should be low enough to avoid serious conflicts.

  • Estate access roads

These roads are intended to provide access to housing estates, which means that all groups of road users must be able to use them. It must be possible to make manoeuvres such as parking, getting in and out, turning and crossing safely, so the speed of motorised traffic must be kept low.”



What is interesting about this thinking, which has been used in Britain for example in New Towns like Stevenage, is that shopping and town centres become the equivalent of Estate Access Roads.

This thinking does use “shared space” but with an interesting twist – motorised transport are guests.

The thinking that is used for motorways and major dual carriageways has been extended to use similar rules for pedestrians and cyclists.


I understand one of the core issues to be around the evolution of law and practice. I understand there are at least six main areas of law involved:

  • Road and traffic
  • Equality
  • Health and Safety
  • Public nuisance etc
  • Tort of nuisance etc
  • Criminal law of harassment, assault, manslaughter and murder


A fascinating example is that road agencies collect statistics about “killed and seriously injured”, but health and safety, aircraft, rail, hospitals, forensics and many other areas want to know about everything, including near misses and people not doing things.

Roads would seem to be following out dated and dangerously misleading practices, I diagnose where that happens as a symptom of institutionalisation.


I wish to see detailed audits that include looking in detail and carefully thinking about all the legal, practice and design assumptions that are being used in proposals.





One thought on “The Design Manual for Bicycle Traffic

  1. Pingback: Cwis call for evidence – Clive Durdle's Blog

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