Principles and processes for cycle friendly design

Family on Diglis Bridge in Worcester

It's important to design cycling infrastructure which is easy for everyone to use

There are a wide range of factors to consider in the development, design and construction of high quality routes for walkers and cyclists, which may demand a variety of specialist skills.


Principles and processes for cycle friendly design (draft), Sustrans Design Manual Chapter 1, 2014 (2.3MB pdf).




Our design guide gives a helpful overview of key issues:

  • Design principles. Ensuring networks reflect the five core design principles of coherence, directness, safety, comfort and attractiveness.
  • Design parameters. Recognising that cyclists have different needs and behaviour from motor traffic or pedestrians.
  • Key processes to consider. Incorporating placemaking, audits, assessments and ecology into the development of schemes.

Our guidance sets out 10 key tips to ensure best practice in designing for cyclists:

  1. Cyclists are important. All design should reinforce this message.
  2. Understand the cyclist experience. Ride the route and speak to cyclists throughout the design process.
  3. Design for less confident cyclists.
  4. Design in line with cycle training.
  5. Cycles are vehicles. Understand their space requirements, manoeuvrability and speed.
  6. Cycles are muscle powered. Aim to minimise energy loss through stopping, hills or being required to dismount.
  7. Make space for cyclists by reallocating road space.
  8. Tame traffic.
  9. Ensure continuity and quality of standards.
  10. Understand the behaviour of other users.

When creating new cycle routes designers are required to take wildlife legislation and nature conservation policies into consideration. We have developed a range of six detailed Ecology Notes for you to use.

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.