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Description

Separated cycleways are facilities exclusively for cycling. They involve some form of physical separation from motor traffic and are generally situated on or adjacent to the roadway, usually within the road reserve. The separation may involve horizontal and/or vertical components.

The term ‘separated cycleway’ includes facilities known as: ‘protected cycle lanes’ (Auckland Transport), ‘separated cycle lanes’ (Christchurch City Council), ‘separated bicycle lanes’ (Austroads), ‘buffered bicycle lanes’ (Queensland Transport and Main Roads), and ‘cycle tracks’ (NACTO).

Separated cycleways can be either:

  • one-way (uni-directional) ie cycling in the same direction as adjacent traffic usually on each side of the road; or
  • contra-flow one-way (uni-directional) i.e. cycling in the opposite direction to adjacent traffic, usually on the right side of a one-way street when seen from the traffic perspective; or
  • two-way (bi-directional) ie both directions for cycling accommodated within one facility on one side of the road.

There are a range of methods that can be employed to separate and protect cyclists from motor traffic, each offering different levels of actual safety (ie in terms of crash risk) and perceived safety (ie in terms of people’s subjective evaluations).

Some examples of recently developed separated cycleways in New Zealand are shown in the photos below.

Check whether separated cycleways are a suitable facility for your target users and for the type of road.

  • Legal considerations

    Separated cycleways are not specifically described in the Road User Rule. Under New Zealand traffic law, as separated cycleways physically exclude general traffic they are not considered to be ‘roadway’. This means that at intersections, cyclists using the separated cycleway enter the roadway and are required to give way to all vehicles, which can be contrary to road user expectations.

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  • Concept design considerations

    Overall guidance

    As well as the guidance contained on these pages, additional guidance is available in the Christchurch City Council Major Cycleway Design Guide [PDF, 4.7 MB] and Auckland Transport Code of Practice(external link) (soon to be replaced with a design guide).(external link)

    Austroads Guide to Road Design Part 3 Geometric Design(external link) Section 4.8.5 discusses one-way separated cycleways (named Separated Bicycle Lanes in the guidance) but not two-way cycleways. Since 2010, many separated cycle lanes have been implemented in Australia and guidance has been developed by certain road controlling authorities, such as Queensland Government’s Separated Cycleways Guideline.(external link)

    Outside of Australasia there is guidance from the US; two guidelines are the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide (external link)where separated cycleways are named ‘cycle tracks’ and the US Federal Highway Administration’s separated bike lane guide(external link).

    In the UK the Irish Cycle Design Manual and the London Cycle Design Standards (external link)also provide guidance for Separated cycleways (both refer to them as Cycle Tracks).


    One-way or two-way

    If a separated cycleway is the preferred facility, it is necessary to decide whether to provide two 1-way facilities or a single 2-way facility on a particular route. The Separated Cycleway Option Tool (SCOT) can be used to assist with this decision, guidance on use of the tool [PDF, 1.1 MB] needs to be read in conjunction with spreadsheet tool [XLSX, 38 KB]. In most cases, 1-way facilities will have better safety outcomes due to drivers often not expecting cyclists coming the ‘wrong way’. As SCOT does not currently account for gradient, extra caution is advised if using it to inform decisions involving facilities involving contra-flow cycling in the downhill direction.


    Contra-flow cycleways

    Separated cycleways may be used to provide for contra-flow cycling, especially in locations with higher traffic volumes or speeds. However, the issues discussed in the interim guidance note on separated cycleways at side roads and driveways [PDF, 2.4 MB], should also be taken into consideration. More information can be found in the guidance on provision for contra-flow cycling.


    Width of facility

    The following tables give the base widths that should be used for separated cycleways, depending on whether they are for one-way or two-way cycling and the volumes of cyclists:

    Table 1: Base widths of one-way separated cycleways

    Cyclists / hour
    (peak period)

    Ideal minimum

    Tolerable minimum

    Absolute minimum (isolated sections only)

    < 150

    2.1 m

    1.8 m

    1.6 m

    150 – 500

    2.4 m

    2.1 m

    1.8 m

    > 500

    3.0 m

    2.6 m

    2.4 m

    Table 2: Base widths of two-way separated cycleways

    Cyclists / hour
    (peak period)

    Ideal minimum

    Tolerable minimum

    Absolute minimum (isolated sections only)

    < 150

    3.0 m

    2.5 m

    2.3 m

    150 – 500

    3.5 m

    3.0 m

    2.5 m

    > 500

    4.0 m

    3.5 m

    3.0 m

    Note:

    • Additional width may be required beyond the base width due to cycling shy space eg next to fences or other structures
    • Wherever a width below the ideal minimum is used (but satisfying the tolerable minimum or absolute minimum), designers should document their justifications.
    • The base width should be increased where:
      • A separator that requires a shy space is used.
      • A high proportion of child cyclists is expected.
      • There are frequent points of access along the cycleway.
      • The gradient is greater than 4 percent (at which point, uphill cyclists are likely to require extra width for wobbling, and downhill cyclists travel faster so require extra width for safe manoeuvring).
    • An isolated section (where the absolute minimum width can be applied):
      • Should be no longer than 100 m.
      • Should not be on an approach to an intersection (where more space is preferred, for storage and to give waiting cyclists the opportunity to establish a more-appropriate order before progressing through the intersection).
      • Could involve a series of discrete constraints, eg power poles that pose intermittent restrictions.
      • Should not be created as a result of a newly-installed / retrofitted asset (eg a bridge).
    • The base widths presented in tables 1 and 2 above are greater than for cycle lanes, as the latter involves the opportunity for one cyclist to cross into the general traffic lane to pass another cyclist, something that is not generally possible for separated cycleways.
    • Where cycleway widths are greater than 2.0m, some motorists may park or drive in them (either deliberately or inadvertently). Where there is an ongoing problem, consider the use of:
      • Coloured surfacing and cycle logos on the cycleway.
      • ‘No-stopping’ lines along the kerb side.
      • As a last resort, central bollards or posts should only be used as a last resort (Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency's Access control devices policy coming soon).


    Type of separator/protection

    A multitude of different cycleway separator types is available. One way of distinguishing these is according to the degree of horizontal separation they provide from motor traffic, and the height of any vertical elements involved. The cycleway separation device selection matrix, is useful for comparing options.

    When choosing the type of separation device, be aware of the effects of:

    • Permeability – for cyclists, other road users, and stormwater
    • Height of separator
    • Mountable kerb detail
    • Implications at intersections and driveways
    • Cycling shy space
    • Width of separator
    • Conspicuity and aesthetics
    • Durability
    • Compatibility with cycleway maintenance
    • Compatibility with rubbish / recycling collection
    • Intended permanence
    • Retrofit vs. new build
    • Construction process
    • Temporary traffic management for cycleway users

    These issues are discussed in more detail under Choice of separator or protection section.


    Interaction with pedestrians

    Pedestrians may have to cross separated cycleways to access bus stops, pedestrian crossing facilities, car parking and the footpath. The choice of mitigation measure for these conflicts is a function of how much space is available; ideally people stepping off buses, or out of parked cars should not step directly into the separated cycleway.

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  • Detailed design considerations

    Markings

    Cycle symbols and coloured surfacing within separated cycle facilities are as per cycle lanes.

    Signs

    There are no currently no specific signs for separated cycle facilities.

    Surfacing, grates and other considerations

    As per cycle lanes. It should be noted that any separation between the cycle facility and the carriageway may impede stormwater flow so will require consideration of drainage.

    Intersections and driveways

    See Intersections for discussion on how to treatment separated cycleways at intersections. An interim design note for design of priority/uncontrolled side roads and driveways is available.

    Pavement design

    Pavement specifications [PDF, 132 KB] for primary cycling routes including cycle-lanes and cycle-paths, shared paths and cycleways, as well as pavement shoulders where cycling demand is high and where a high level of service is desired, have been developed.  For a secondary or minor route in a cycling network, a lower level specification may be appropriate.

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