Design and Build Safe crossings

  1. Plan
  2. Design and Build
  3. Sell
  4. Evaluate

Crossings should ensure safety and the same time minimise the interruptions for the cycle highway users, i.e. the need to stop or slow. Fortunately, these requirements often go in line with each other.

Design options

Usually best results are achieved by a combination of good planning, grade-separated crossings (tunnels or bridges) in key locations, redirecting car traffic from selected streets and rebuilding the remaining at-grade crossings to a safe standard.

  1. Good planning. One of the criteria that should be considered at the planning stage of a cycle highway is minimising the number of conflicts with motorised traffic. In many cases the need for crossings can be greatly reduced by choosing the right corridor, e.g. along a river, canal, railroad or other linear infrastructure. Of course, other important criteria, like directness or connectivity, need to be considered as well.
  2. Grade separated crossings. Tunnels or bridges can provide very good safety and remove the need for stopping both for cars and bicycles. Social safety, additional elevation change or slopes might be arguments against, but they can be alleviated by good design if there is enough space and funding.
  3. Crossing removal. Crossings can also be removed.  This is one of possible applications of the filtered permeability concept: concentrate car traffic on one or two streets where it is possible to provide safe crossings and close a short section of another street where perpendicular traffic would create a safety hazard for a cycle highway.
  4. Non-signalised crossings. It is not always possible or economically feasible to avoid at-grade crossings altogether. In such case, the crossing should be designed in a way that the speed of motorised traffic is adjusted to a safe level of 30 km/h and both cyclists and drivers have a clear view and understanding of the crossing situation. Measures that can help and examples of application are listed under non-signalised crossings.
  5. Signalised crossings. Traffic lights can improve safety, but usually at the expense of travel time. Measures like “green wave”, dynamic information, “all-green” phase or diagonal crossings can reduce the need of stopping or waiting time, but generally signalised crossings should be considered last resort for cycle highways.

Best practice - implemented

Travelling on the Batavierenpad Zuid cycle highway into or out of Beuningen (Gelderland, Netherlands) one does not need to stop even once. Most of perpendicular streets are dead end for cars and do not cross the cycle highway; this is either a result of original settlement planning, or later closures (e.g. Oude Reekstraat). Near Leigraaf the cycle highway follows a canal and passes under a bridge of a distributor road (grade separated crossing). On the three remaining at-grade crossings cycle highway’s priority was ensured by raised crossings, traffic islands and clear continuity of cycle path surface.

Best practice - planned

The planned extension of the F1 cycle highway in the south of Mechelen (Belgium) follows the railroad line, which reduces the number of crossings to solve. But crossing with Geerdegemstraat would be dangerous, because the visibility on the crossing with F1 would be heavily restricted by railroad embankment and nearby building. Therefore, a short section of the street under the railroad bridges is proposed to close for motorised traffic. Housing along Geerdegemstraat will still be accessible by car, but to reach the N1 main road it will be necessary to drive via Zemstsesteenweg (which will have a grade separated crossing with the cycle highway). This will ensure high safety and eliminate time loss on the cycle highway, and at the same time remove through traffic from a narrow residential street. Cycle highway will still be connected with both streets – Geerdegemstraat will remain open for cyclists and a ramp will allow access to Zemstsesteenweg.

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