Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Cycleway classification

Those of you who know me well (which is barely anybody who reads this, to be honest, this being a new blog and all) will know that, among other things, I am a massive dork. I mean, it's not normal for a 15-year-old boy to be interested in languages and cycling infrastructure and whatever else happens to suddenly pique my curiosity. All too often, I see something, get an idea, and think, "I am going to completely disregard all my current obligations and tasks and focus on this one little thing for a few moments."

And so came about my attempts to try and create a shorthand way of describing cycleways!


The general format I came up with is NNN-N-ABC, where N represents a number and ABC represents some letters.

The first number is the width of the path, in centimetres. For example, a path 1.3 m wide would be given as 130.  Bidirectional paths are followed by a lowercase B, e.g. 250b. If the effective width of the path is reduced by high kerbs, fences or similar, an exclamation mark is added, e.g. 300b!. Unpaved off-road routes, which are not infra that enables mass cycling but are included here for completion, tend to vary a lot in width and so should be listed as an average width rounded to the nearest half-metre.

The second number is the average separation from the main carriageway, rounded to the nearest metre. Thus, a 200-1 path is 2 m wide and about 1 m away from the main carriageway. On-carriageway lanes are 0; advisory lanes are marked with a 0!. (A lot of 'cycle infrastructure' in the UK is just 70-0! lanes.) Off-road routes or routes that are separated completely from motor traffic can be marked with an x here.

After that goes any additional comments, in heavily abbreviated form:

  • D = cyclists dismount; when the council decided that cyclists should get off and walk at various points, normally crossings. You can't expect them to design for motorists AND pedestrians AND cyclists, after all.
  • G = gives way to minor side roads.
  • H = high-quality surface, such as asphalt.
  • J = vanishes at junctions.
  • O = obstructed (permanently). All too often councils put in cycleways and refuse to relocate streetlights or signposts.
  • R = repurposed pavement; when a council paints a line on a pavement, marks one side for cycles and the other for pedestrians, and calls it infrastructure
  • S = shared use.
For example, let us say that a path along Anytown Road was found to be 110b-1-GR. This explains, succinctly, that the path is bidirectional, 1.1 m wide and about 1 m away from the carriageway, is repurposed pavement and gives way to side roads. The Anytown Trail might be 400b-x-H. You get the picture.

If you have any ideas on how to improve the system, or a feature you think should be included, leave them in the comments or tweet me (@boyplusbike).