Consultation Digest (National) Issue 8, 29 October 2021: The one before COP26

There are no official consultations of relevance at present so this digest is different to usual. Instead this month there’s information on how you can raise your voice for the climate and cycling during COP26, and a look at the new Cycling by Design guidance.

COP26 – How you can raise your voice for cycling and climate change

You won’t have missed that COP26 is coming to town next week, complete with world leaders, cycle lane closures, dodgy diversions and huge demonstrations. There are many ways you can get involved to call for action – a few of these are highlighted below.

Find out more about cycling, climate action and COP26 on the Cycling UK COP26 webpages

Pedal on COP26 – 6 November – Pedal on Parliament have been doing immense work to organise and coordinate action for COP26 – see the PoP website for more details.

Petitions and online actions – take a simple online action to speak up for the climate

  • Cycling UK – social media action – This online action enables you to send a message to your MSPs via twitter telling them that #ThisMachineFightsClimateChange. If you don’t have twitter there’s a guide to spreading the message via other social media.
  • Climate Scotland – petition – An online action organised by a coalition of charities with a focus on the impacts of climate change on Scotland’s natural environment.  In the signing process, you can select a topic and say why this matters to you. For example, for many cyclists experiencing the beautiful countryside on a bike is important for mental as well as physical health. Select ‘Beautiful places’ to make this, or a similar point.
  • OXFAM – petition – Ask the Prime Minister to take decisive action on climate change.

Events – So many events are happening during the 2 weeks of COP26

  • COP26 Cycling Forum – Monday November 1st, 2-4pm, Gartnavel Hospital grounds – This rally will bring together people who have cycled to COP26 and cycling advocates in Glasgow and globally, amplifying voices and celebrating the potential of cycling as a climate solution. Register here for this event
  • Climate Fringe – Find events to interest you led by civil society for civil society.
  • People’s Summit – 7-10 November – a huge range of events on offer

Cycling by Design

Transport Scotland has published its long awaited Cycling by Design design guidance update. They don’t have a consultation on the published guidance but rather is welcoming feedback on the content of the document via e-mail to

Government says this new document will be ‘updated regularly to take account of project experience and changes to the legal or design environment’ so its worth providing feedback based on your real-life experience of good and bad cycling infrastructure designs.

Cycling by Design is a long document and rightly includes invaluable technical guidance for designers and planners.

My analysis and thoughts below are intended to be a guide to the Cycling by Design (CbD) document and a look at the bigger picture, the themes and the use of the document rather than an attempt to assess whether all the design details are to the standard we would like to see. That’s a lengthy piece of work and we will be looking at this at Cycling UK so that we can provide feedback to Transport Scotland and provide support to campaigners.

Clarity of guidance and use of images are excellent in CbD. There’s good imagery showing the wide variety of cycles that should be designed for, and this does pervade the document in the design images.

Key messages for designers – There is an excellent summary on page 9 which condenses the guidance down to 12 key messages explaining how designers should approach the application of CbD. Unfortunately, the rest of the document doesn’t always fully reflect the same high level of expectation as contained in the key messages.

Application of the guidance – Throughout the document there are tables showing 3 levels of delivery in certain situation or applying to specific design factors (high, med and low). Transport Scotland wants designers to go for the high level. The High, Medium and Low Level of Service categories are similar approach to level of service in England’s LTN 1/20 which uses Green, Amber, Red categorisation. However, LTN 1/20 also has a “Critical” level below Red (Low level of service) which can be considered as “this is really bad do not do it”. CbD needs a similar ‘DO NOT DO THIS’ level, as there are many designs on our streets which are plainly dangerous.

Planning for Cycle Users – This section, from page 13, is good at explaining that cyclists are a varied bunch and can have differing capabilities – plus they have different needs to both motorists and pedestrians.

Assess demand for infrastructure comes under section 2.5 on the planning and delivery process. My concern is that guidance explaining the need to ‘estimate future travel patterns’ and that ‘data sources may not reflect the full potential for cycle user trips’ doesn’t convey the same weight as Key Message No. 1 on p9 which says ‘We must plan and design for mass cycling’. Using current estimates is unlikely to deliver the infrastructure we so desperately need for mass cycling.

Network planning – The section shows that our current active travel network plans at the local authority level are not up to scratch. One of the Principles on p21 is ‘coherence’ and is further described on page 30. However, without a proper network plan for each LA you can’t meet the design guidance standards. It shows an urgent need for a proper Scotland-wide network plan of dense urban networks, cycle lanes along major arterial routes and links between towns and cities.

Provision of appropriate facilities on p49 is a really good summary as to why it’s important to provide protection, separation and to enhance places. Cycling interaction with pedestrians is covered on page 53, and there’s a general ongoing principle of keeping cyclists and pedestrians apart wherever possible. This could be clearer and more up-front, especially the interaction with disabled people. The section on access control rightly explains the need to not include barriers which stop people in wheelchairs or adaptive cycles from accessing safe infrastructure.

Maintenance – A section about the maintenance of cycling infrastructure appears at the end of the section about cycle lanes. Maintenance and planning for maintenance and upkeep, e.g. snowploughing in winter, should be integral to design and delivery. I would like to see this promoted in the document and made more prominent under section 2 – Planning for Cycle Users.

Crossings and junctions – There are lengthy sections of geometric guidance for all types of cycle links, design guidance on crossings and on junctions. Some of these, especially, junctions will take some getting used to by cyclists and drivers.

There is a helpful section on trip end facilities, including guidance for cycle parking, bike hangars etc, as well as info on links with public transport.

Finally, there’s not much reference to the Sustainable Travel Hierarchy in the guidance. Designers and planners need to understand that this should impact on the investment and design decisions – i.e. cycling isn’t just an add on. This problem is compounded by this guidance only being focussed on cycling infrastructure rather than a holistic and all encompassing design guidance for our roads, new build developments and community spaces.

Summary of concerns

  • The good emphasis on high levels of service in the introductory sections needs to be maintained throughout the document but the guidance also needs to be clear on what designs are unacceptable under any circumstances.
  • The process for review of the designs needs greater clarity, especially how this differs in each circumstance. For example, Sustrans may be strict in reviewing Places for Everyone bid designs but councils may be less stringent in designs for new developments.
  • There’s an urgent need for professional training for planners, designers, developers, those assessing designs, LA staff and others inc. Highway Safety Auditors, to apply the guidance appropriately, especially with current inadequate network planning in many places (see next point).
  • Network planning needs to catch up with the improved design guidance and MUST aim for mass cycling, rather than current estimates of future need.
  • The guidance stands alone as cycling guidance and apart from references to other guidance isn’t fully integrated with other design guidance and could lead to issues, such as problems for disabled people, being missed.