The section describes the planning practices in selected regions of North-West Europe. In the table to the right an overview is given of the various administrative levels that are discussed in this section.
Region of Noord-Brabant
In the province of Noord-Brabant, cycle highways are referred to as ‘fast bicycle routes’ (snelle fietsroutes). A network of cycle highways has been envisaged for the province, consisting of bikeways connecting major cities as well as surrounding villages. Several routes have been build already, while other routes are being implemented or planned. The design of cycle highways is based on the guidelines laid out in the 2014 CROW* manual. These guidelines have been further elaborated, distinguishing between a basic and a high level of ambition. Ambitions differ, for example, with respect to type of separation, width, directness and number of crossings.
Government levels involved
Cooperation with regard to cycle highway is organised through so-called GGA-regions**, which are an existing format of voluntary cooperation among municipalities. Municipalities are jointly responsible for the planning and construction of bicycle highways. The province offers support in the form of knowledge and expertise but also makes available funding (grant programme).
Other actors involved
Local departments of the Dutch Cyclists’ Union play an active role in the planning of most routes. Major employers are also involved – sometimes in early stages of the project. The inter-governmental agreement should outline an employer-based approach to involve major employers in (further) planning and promotion of the route. Promotion activities involve targeted information, incentives and travel awareness, focusing an employees. For most routes land has to be expropriated from private land owners and when routes run parallel to railroads or major roads, infrastructure managers (Prorail, Rijkswaterstaat) are also involved.
Other sectors involved
The building of cycle highways is linked to other policy domains like car mobility (congestion reduction), health, environment and city vitality. Cost-benefit reasoning has been used to motivate these connections and in 2018 a study has been conducted to explore whether cost-benefit (MKBA) could be linked to the existing potential assessment as an evaluation tool of prospective routes.
In 2016, the province has commissioned a potential assessment (Potentiescan) to identify promising connections between cities and villages in Noord-Brabant. This assessment has been used to determine which routes have priority and are therefore eligible for funding from the provincial grant programme. Municipalities jointly elaborate these routes. When the route is sufficiently elaborated, municipalities and province conclude an inter-governmental agreement, which spells out the arrangements with respect to the actual route, quality levels, planning and funding. A final design is subsequently drafted for the route, which will then be implemented.
The province of Noord-Brabant has established a grant programme for the physical construction of cycle highways. This scheme can be used to finance particular segments of the route and requires an equal match (50%) of funds from the municipalities involved. An greater match of funds (up to 80%) can be obtained from the province if the route includes innovations, major infrastructure works or when it is developed against higher quality standards. The province has also committed resources to finance planning and preparatory work of several routes. For some routes, funding has also been secured from the national government, which has committed budgets for cycle highways through specific programmes (Fietsfilevrij, Beter Benutten).
*CROW is a research organisation in the area of traffic, transport and infrastructure, which seeks to promote standardisation in the sector
** All municipalities in Noord-Brabant are member of one of the five GGA (gebiedsgerichte aanpak) regions. Cooperation is dedicated to regional transportation policies and projects.
Region of Vlaams-Brabant
- Cycle highway network around Brussels (Flemish-Brabant).
- Fragment from the guidelines in Flanders.
- In the province of Flemish-Brabant, the study has always two stages. In the first study ('startnota') the preferred...
In the province of Vlaams-Brabant, cycle highways are referred to as ‘express bike routes’ (fietssnelwegen). A branded network of cycle highways has been envisaged for the province, consisting of bikeways connecting the capital city of Brussels to the surrounding villages. Cycle highways have also been designated in other parts of the province.
The design of cycle highways is informed by the guidelines determined by the Flemish Government (‘Vademecum Fietsvoorzieningen’). These guidelines entail considerations with regard to directness and surroundings and impose strict design quality criteria with respect to i.e. speed, width, pavements and intersections.
Government levels involved
The province of Vlaams-Brabant has assumed prime responsibility for the development of the network of cycle highways. Even if routes identified in the network will not be build in the near future, they will be granted an official status under provincial arrangements. The assumption is that this will encourage local authorities as well as other actors to take the potential route into account in ongoing planning processes. However, developments that might deter the construction of the route cannot be legally prevented as with formal land use planning designations. Generally, municipalities build segments of the route within their jurisdictions and they can apply for funding from the province to cover both the planning, land acquisition and construction costs (see section Finance). The development of a cycle highway depends on the willingness of individual municipalities to build segments within their borders. Therefore, it might take considerable time to complete a route and for that reason the province is initiating several pilots in which they build (parts of) the route themselves.
Other actors involved
Local departments of the Cyclists’ Union are often involved in the planning of routes. For most routes land has to be expropriated from private land owners. Since routes often run parallel to railroads, canals or major roads, infrastructure managers such as Infrabel are also often involved.
In 2012 the province of Vlaams-Brabant and the governments of the Flemish and Brussels-Capital region commissioned a study to establish a major cycle network that would connect the surrounding villages to the city of Brussels. This study also comprised a potential analysis to determine which routes would be assigned high priority. Since then, routes have also been designated in other parts of the province. Municipalities that want to construct segments of the route within their jurisdiction have to follow a two-step procedure. The first stage involves a feasibility study (‘Startnota’) to analyse different scenario's for the route alignment and determine the preferred route. In the second stage, a final design (‘Projectnota’) is drafted for the chosen route, which will then be implemented.
The province of Vlaams-Brabant has established a grant programme for the planning and construction of cycle highways. The costs of this grant programme are shared equally with the Flemish Government. Individual municipalities can apply for funds from this programme to build parts of designated routes within their jurisdiction. Municipalities do not have to match these funds and can use it to finance the planning and the physical construction of the route (including land acquisition). More details around the funding can be found in this article from ECF.
Region of Frankfurt Rhein-Main
In the region of Frankfurt Rhein-Main, cycle highways are referred to as ‘express bike routes’ (‘Radschnellwege’). The State of Hesse, of which the Frankfurt Rhein-Main region is part, uses the term ‘fast bike connections’ (‘Radschnellverbindungen’). Several routes are being planned or build in the region. The design of cycle highways is informed by a working paper drafted by the Road and Transportation Research Association (FGSV). These guidelines entail basic requirements with regard to speed, directness, width, pavement and number of intersections. More recently, the State of Hesse has also established quality standards, which are based on the same working paper by the FGSV.
Government levels involved
Municipalities have taken the initiative to develop the first routes within the region. Cities (Kreisfrei Städte) and (rural) municipalities (Kreise) cooperate within the Regional Association FrankfurtRheinMain.* This interjurisdictional organisation coordinates the planning of cycle highways and can be seen as a neutral platform. The State of Hesse offers assistance in the form of funding.
Other actors involved
Cycling Federation Germany is often involved in the planning process, but not always as an official partner. The region devotes considerable attention to citizen participation. They have created an online participation tool and organize regular events and campaigns.
The building of cycle highways is linked to other policy domains like car mobility (congestion reduction), health, environment and city vitality. Cost-benefit reasoning is used to motivate these connections and the State of Hesse has drafted guidelines to conduct a cost-benefit analysis.
For the routes that were initiated by the cities and municipalities of the region the process was as follows: when there is an interest to plan and develop a route, local authorities sign a letter of intent to cooperate. Subsequently a feasibility study will be conducted to determine the preferred route and come up with a cost estimate. A final design is subsequently drafted which details concrete measures and quality standards, planning, and funding. This design will then be implemented after obtaining the relevant building permits. The State of Hesse has now formalised this process, distinguishing between:
- potential analysis
- feasibility study
- cost estimate
- cost-benefit analysis
- citizen participation
In the region of Frankfurt Rhein-Main, cycle highways are financed under a co-funding, cost-sharing principle where both the State of Hesse and local authorities provide resources to the initiative. The State of Hesse has not established a dedicated grant programme for the building of cycle highways, but instead makes funding available from the annual Transport budget. Funds from the State can be used for both planning and physical construction of the route.
* The Regional Association (Regionalverband) of FrankfurtRheinMain is a form of interjurisdictional cooperation, which was established in 2011. It is facilitated by a special law of the State of Hesse, the ‘Law on the Metropolitan Region of FrankfurtRheinMain’ (‘Gesetz über die Metropolregion Frankfurt/Rhein-Main’). The organisation has been created to coordinate comprehensive regional planning, as well as transport planning and maintenance and to promote economic development and place marketing.
Region of Rhein-Neckar
In the region of Rhein-Neckar, cycle highways are referred to as ‘fast bike connections’ (‘Radschnellverbindungen’). Several routes are being planned in the region. The State of Baden-Württemberg, of which the Rhein-Neckar region is part, has published quality standards for cycle highways. These routes are based on the working paper by the Road and Transportation Research Association (FGSV). Routes have to comply with these standards in order to be eligible for support from the State. These standards comprise criteria with regard to cruising speed, widths, directness, junctions, grade separation and pavement quality.
Government levels involved
The State of Baden-Württemberg has designated connections that might be developed into cycle highways. Municipalities are jointly responsible for the development of individual routes. However, in order to prevent delays and to ensure consistent quality across juridisctions, the State of Baden-Württemberg is initiating several pilots (Leuchtturmprojektes) in which they build the route themselves. One of these pilots is the connection between Heidelberg and Mannheim in the Rhein-Neckar area. For other routes, cities (Kreisfrei Städte) and (rural) municipalities (Kreise) cooperate within the Regional Association Rhein-Neckar.* This interjurisdictional organisation coordinates the planning of cycle highways and can be seen as a neutral platform. The State of Hesse offers assistance in the form of funding.
Other actors involved
Cycling Federation Germany is often involved in the planning process, but not always as an official partner. Private land owners are often essential and cooperation is often required form road and rail infrastructure managers.
The building of cycle highways is linked to other policy domains like car mobility (congestion reduction), health, environment and city vitality.
In 2018, the State of Baden-Württemberg has commissioned a potential assessment (Potentiescan) to identify promising connections between cities and villages all over the State. This assessment has been used to determine which routes have priority and will receive assistance from the State. Municipalities jointly elaborate these routes. For this purpose, they have to conduct a feasibility study, which has to be implemented according to guidelines laid out by the State. In addition, the State of Baden-Württemberg has identified three pilot routes, which it will plan and construct itself.
The State of Baden-Württemberg has made funds available to local authorities to undertake preparatory work (feasibility studies) for the building of cycle highways. With the Heidelberg-Mannheim pilot route, the State finances both the planning and the physical construction of the route.
* The Regional Association (Regionalverband) of Rhein-Neckar is a form of interjurisdictional cooperation established in 2006. The region extends the States of Baden-Württemberg, Hesse and Rheinland-Pfalz. It is dedicated to coordinate comprehensive regional planning, as well as transport planning and maintenance and to promote economic development and place marketing.