The Department for Transport’s Cycling Manual – Cycling Infrastructure Design [pdf], or LTN 2/08 – contains this ‘classification’ of different categories of cyclists –
1.3.8 The different categories of cyclist include:
• fast commuter – confident in most on road situations and will use a route with significant traffic volumes if it is more direct than a quieter route;
• utility cyclist – may seek some segregation at busy junctions and on links carrying high speed traffic;
• inexperienced and/or leisure cyclist – may be willing to sacrifice directness, in terms of both distance and time, for a route with less traffic and more places to stop and rest;
• child – may require segregated, direct largely off road routes from residential areas to schools, even where an on road solution is available. Design needs to take account of personal security issues. Child cyclists should be anticipated in all residential areas and on most leisure cycling routes; and
• users of specialised equipment – includes users of trailers, trailercycles, tandems and tricycles, as well as disabled people using handcranked machines. This group requires wide facilities free of sharp bends and an absence of pinchpoints or any other features that force cyclists to dismount. Cycle tracks and lanes where adult cyclists frequently accompany young children should be sufficiently wide to allow for cycling two abreast. This enables adults to ride alongside children when necessary.
Perversely this classification is not used to inform the design of cycle infrastructure that is suitable for all these groups to use; instead it is used to recommend designing different kinds of cycling infrastructure for these different types of cyclists. The most telling quote being
In order to accommodate the sometimes conflicting needs of various user types and functions, it may be necessary to create dual networks offering different levels of provision, with one network offering greater segregation from motor traffic at the expense of directness and/or priority.
It is assumed here that cyclists who don’t like cycling amongst vehicles are quite happy to make their journeys longer and more inconvenient as a consequence. Presumably only those people who don’t want to use the road network, as is, are those ‘inexperienced’ or ‘leisure cyclists’, content to wobble around bus stops, dismount at every major junction, and give way at every side road. It’s a disastrous and wrongheaded assumption. As Joe Dunckley has written
The effect of the “dual networks” principle in LTN 2/08 is that neither “network” is satisfactorily designed. The low-traffic “network” can be designed down: it can concede priority, take circuitous routes, share busy pedestrian spaces, and even advise dismounting — yes, LTN 2/08 says elsewhere that those solutions are undesirable, but, hey, this is just the training network, they’ll soon graduate onto the road so what does it matter? And when it then comes to fixing the main roads and busy junctions, engineers will “take into account the type(s) of cyclist expected to use it”, conclude that the inexperienced and nervous cyclists will be usingthe other “network”, and design the roads and junctions accordingly.
I had been meaning, for some time, to parody the attitudes exhibited in this guidance by making an analogy with pedestrians. How we might ‘take into account’ the different kinds of pedestrians, and how they need different kinds of infrastructure. A silly commentary on how ‘joggers’ might be confident about using the street environment as is, while children and the disabled might be less confident and require segregation.
But it turns out that the DfT are actually beyond parody.
3.4.2 The design pedestrian types are:
- Commuter – prefers a fast direct route between home and work or when accessing public transport, regardless of quality of environment;
- Shopper/leisure walker – looks for ease of access, attractive retail environments, and attractive routes;
- Disabled person – requires level, clearly defined easy access and careful attention in the design and placement of street furniture, including resting points. Satisfying these requirements will also satisfy the needs of all other users, especially older people, people with heavy shopping/young children, and people with temporary impairments or low levels of fitness; and
- Child – requires a high level of segregation from motorised traffic and/or other measures to reduce the dominance of motor vehicles, such as speed reduction, together with good passive surveillance from other users. These are important factors where children and young people make independent journeys, especially journeys to school.
I haven’t made this up – it’s from LTN 1/04, Policy, Planning and Design for Walking and Cycling [pdf]. The ‘cyclist classification’ in LTN 2/08 is lifted straight from this document.
Amazingly there’s even a ‘Hierarchy of Provision’ for pedestrians, which is deliciously bonkers –
Consider first –
Reallocation of road space to pedestrians
Provision of direct at-grade crossings
Improved pedestrian routes on existing desire lines
Consider last –
New pedestrian alignment or grade separation
That is, an approach to designing for pedestrians that is just as hopeless as the one for cyclists; one that fails to designate what a particular road or street is for, and to then apply an appropriate treatment for those cyclists and walkers that will be using it. Namely, a treatment that will satisfy the needs of all types of cyclists and walkers simultaneously.
Now of course it is sensible to take into account the fact that there are different types of walkers and cyclists; but something has quite obviously got lost in translation between the initial classification of types of users, and the kind of provision that is then recommended. We wouldn’t design pavements that fast walkers wouldn’t want to use because they’re littered with obstacles; nor would we compromise on the way pavements are designed for children, or for those in wheelchairs, or parents those with pushchairs, because they’re not confident enough to walk or wheel in the road.
Why should we settle for these fudged compromises when it comes to cycle infrastructure?
Thanks to Sally Hinchcliffe for spotting this