Designing traffic free routes

People on bikes on traffic free path

Traffic free routes should deliver high standards of all of the five cyclist requirements: coherence, directness, safety, comfort and attractiveness

A traffic free route is one exclusively for cyclists and pedestrians (and in some cases horse riders) away from the road. It may either segregate cyclists from pedestrians or have them share the same space.

Routes free from motorised traffic can be developed in both urban and rural areas, utilising a wide range of linear corridors such as disused railways or canal towpaths. Developing routes that provide direct connections and maximise connectivity are key to achieving high usage.

They should deliver coherence, directness, safety, comfort and attractiveness.  The attention to detail in the design process, the quality of materials and construction will have a direct impact upon the levels of use and future maintenance costs. Our design guidance offers information on:

  • Types and features of traffic free routes
  • Understanding path users
  • Segregation of cycles and pedestrians
  • Geometric design
  • Controlling access and speed
  • Lighting
  • Banks and landscape features
  • Path construction including formation and sub base, surfacing, path edges, fencing and drainage


Traffic free routes: Conceptual design (draft), Sustrans Design Manual Chapter 5, 2014 (4MB pdf)






Traffic free routes: Detailed design (draft), Sustrans Design Manual Chapter 6, 2014 (3.5MB pdf)




Other Sustrans guidance:

Other external guidance:

To discuss how we can help you, please contact our design and construction team.

Find out more about the professional training we offer.