Cycling infrastructure ‘effective’ – but local gov is using less of it

By intouch * posted 16-04-2019 16:49

By Peter Damen, CEO Level 5 Design

Local streets provide a place where the community can access their homes and other local destinations and are an active place to walk, cycle, play, relax and interact. They support local land use and community activity and are part of the public open space network.

cycling_pic.pngLocal area traffic management (LATM) is involved with the planning and management of traffic on local streets, using physical devices, streetscaping treatments, placemaking and other measures. The purpose of LATM is to reduce traffic volumes and speed in local streets, to increase amenity and sense of place, and to improve safety and access for residents and visitors, especially vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists.

In order to identify common practices and emerging trends in LATM, transport advisory firm Level5Design undertook extensive research in 2018 to identify new, innovative and revised approaches to the application of traffic management practice in Australia and New Zealand.

This research forms part of a 20-year longitudinal research project focussing on local government practices that commenced in 2006 and has been updated every four years.

The research found bicycle facilities incorporated within LATM schemes – including bicycle bypasses, advisory treatments, bicycle lanes, contra-flow treatments, wide kerbside lanes and other supplementary bicycle treatments – have been rated as increasingly effective by local government.

In the research, the effectiveness of each device was ranked on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being least effective and 5 being most effective. A ranking of 4 or 5 was characterised as 'effective'.

However, despite a 19% rise in the reported effectiveness of bicycle facilities incorporated into LATM schemes since 2014, there has been an equivalent decrease in their use within local area schemes during the same time period.

This means that less bicycle facilities are now being included within LATM schemes, which are built as part of new infrastructure plans or retrofitted into existing streets.

Figure 1 illustrates this relationship over time.

The findings indicate that despite the additional emphasis being given to cycling within local communities, it has not translated very well to local area traffic management schemes.

In fact, quite a few large metropolitan local governments state that they never incorporate bicycle facilities into local area traffic management schemes.

Clearly, if these facilities are as effective as most local governments report,  this is an area that requires greater attention moving forward. 

Long experience in Denmark and the Netherlands shows that traffic calming is compatible with high levels of cycling.

The keys are quality of detailing and speed management. Traffic conditions in local streets should be based on the expectation that bikes and vehicles will share the same space. Bike considerations should be an integral part of the LATM planning process, not merely an afterthought. LATM should improve conditions for cyclists and accord with their primary needs, which is to:

  • Enhance access (aim at a coherent network that reaches all likely local destinations)
  • Enhance safety
  • Enhance convenience (opportunities, short cuts)
  • Ensure continuity (including provision for crossing of traffic routes)
Peter Damen from Level5Design will present more of the findings at the upcoming IPWEA International Public Works Conference  in Hobart, August. Early bird registrations for the event are now open – find out more here.

About the author, Peter Damen

Peter Damen is the Principal and Chief Executive Officer of Level 5 Design. Peter is considered a national and international expert in emerging transport technologies, automated vehicles, parking and traffic management, road safety and future transport planning. He has been involved in some of Australia’s largest transport infrastructure projects and he has an industry network that extends across the globe. Peter believes that innovation is the key to Australia’s future – in making better investment decisions and accomplishing more for the community. Contact: Peter Damen at or via 0410 438 084.