Cycle Skills Network Audits - Delivering the Most for Cycle Accessibility from What is Already There

Cycle Skills Network Audits - Delivering the Most for Cycle Accessibility from What is Already There


K Spence, Transport Initiatives LLP, UK


This paper will explain how a Cycle Skills Network Audit, that classifies all roads, off-road paths and pedestrian crossings in an area by the skill level needed to use them, can deliver the most for cycle accessibility from what is already there.


This presentation will describe the methodology and benefits of the Cycle Skills Network Audit (CSNA) process. The CSNA has been developed by Transport Initiatives as a means of auditing all the roads, paths and pedestrian crossings in an area and classifying them by the cycling skill level needed to use them safely. The classification is based on the different skill levels of the UK National Standard for Cycle Training (Bikeability).

The CSNA can reveal how accessible an area is for cycling, identifying barriers and highlighting opportunities for improvements. As pedestrian crossings are also audited the data collected can also be used to demonstrate accessibility for pedestrians.


Cycle provision in the UK has generally been infrastructure-led, based around the development of defined routes, both on- and off-road. Some facilities have been over-engineered while many sub-standard measures provide little or no benefit to existing or new cyclists.

Resources available in the UK to develop cycling remain relatively limited, even taking into account initiatives such as Cycling England?s ?Cycle Towns?. Only a small number of cycle schemes tend to be progressed due to the lack of priority given to cycling.

A different approach was needed leading to a more effective way of providing for existing and new cyclists - ?routes for cyclists?, not ?cycle routes?. Recent UK transport policy supports this approach. In 2007 DfT in England published ?Manual for Streets? which recommended that measures to benefit cycling should first address the highway network, with off-road routes being developed only when improvements to on-road cycling is not feasible.

CSNA levels

The CSNA assesses the suitability of the network in terms of the three levels in the UK National Standard for Cycle Training (Bikeability):

Level 1 Beginner
Level 2 Introduction to Riding on the Road
Level 3 Advanced

These are then used to classify the network into 7 categories:

Potential Level 1 Key motor traffic-free links not currently available to cyclists (due to legal / physical restrictions)

Level 1 Motor traffic-free cycle routes, plus streets with extremely low levels of calmed traffic (e.g. Home Zones) suitable for all cyclists

Level 2 Roads / cycle tracks suitable for cyclists at Bikeability Level 2

Level 2 Off-peak Some roads are quiet and safe for cyclists at Level 2 at off-peak times only. These are classified Level 3 at peak times and Level 2 at others.

Level 2.5 Roads / cycle tracks suitable for cyclists at Bikeability Level 2, except for turning manoeuvres across traffic

Level 3 Roads / cycle tracks suitable only for cyclists at Bikeability Level 3

Level 3.5 Roads where the level of risk is so high it is a barrier to even the most experienced cyclists

All fixed pedestrian crossing points on roads classified higher than level 2 (this includes level 2 off-peak) are also audited and classified as level 1, 2 or 3. This recognises that access between level 2 routes might be possible by means of a small detour on foot to use a nearby pedestrian crossing.

The CSNA output is GIS-based and comprises a colour-coded ?Level of Service? plan of the network showing which areas are the most conducive to cycling and where the main barriers are. Accessibility to given destinations can also be mapped.

Use of CSNA

? Production of maps or guides for local cyclists enabling journey planning based on level of skill

? Development of workplace and school travel plans

? Identifying key barriers to cycling and accessibility

? Targeting of cycle training to schools where improved skills are most needed within their catchment areas

? Identifying roads and other routes where more detailed assessments are needed

? Targeting of schemes to sites with greatest potential for increasing cycling

The CSNA for Northolt High School, carried out by Transport Initiatives for the London Borough of Ealing, has been shortlisted for the 2009 London Transport Awards.


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