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ATE issues guidance to councils on street design best practice for walking and cycling

Deniz Huseyin
21 February 2024


A suite of tools and user guides to help councils assess the design quality of street schemes has been produced by Active Travel England (ATE).

It represents a significant step in ATE’s rollout of best practice in the provision of improved facilities for cycling and walking, since its establishment in 2022.

Over the past two years ATE has been working with councils, accessibility groups and the DfT to test and refine the tools.

ATE has developed the tools so that councils can properly assess schemes implemented to encourage walking, wheeling and cycling.

The Crossing Selector, Route Check, Route Cross-section and Area Check tools and accompanying user guides are now available for councils to check themselves that schemes are fit for purpose.

ATE’s chief executive Danny Williams said: “These tools and user guides will help local authorities to build capability by giving officers the guidance and support they need to improve scheme design.”

John Dales, Director at Urban Movement, told LTT: “Essentially, it puts into everyone’s hands an approach to design development and assessment that ATE has been using and developing with local authorities, and others, over the past couple of years.

“In publishing these manuals, ATE has enabled everyone see how it is working with local authorities to ensure the schemes they bring forward are as good as they can be. This will also enable active travel advocates to hold their local authorities to account.”

The Route Check tool, which can be used in both urban and rural areas, is similar to the ‘Cycling Level of Service’ and ‘Healthy Streets Check for Designers’ tools released by the DfT and Transport for London (TfL).

The new user guide allows users to assess and score streets and paths against various metrics under the categories of safety, accessibility, comfort, directness, attractiveness and cohesion. However, unlike the ‘Cycling Level of Service’ tool, it also accounts for the user experience of people walking and wheeling, including people with disabilities.

Route Check is also intended for use throughout the scheme design process, to identify critical issues and other problems at the feasibility stage and design them out in later stages before construction.

The tool comprises six active travel policy principles: Are Cyclists separated from pedestrians; Is the route free from barriers, such as chicane barriers, steps or dismount signs; Does the route feel direct, logical and intuitive to understand for all road users; Are surfaces suitable for

all users; Is appropriate lighting provided; Does the route join together, or join other facilities together, as part of a holistic, connected network?

Councils also have free access to the Crossing Selector Tool, which maps out design options for connecting walking, wheeling and cycling routes over a ‘main’ road, between two side roads.

Currently the tool, which is a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet with two tabs, only helps users select ‘interzonal crossings’. But ATE said that extra functionality may be added in future to help when selecting other crossing types, such as standalone crossings and side road crossings.

Meanwhile, the Area Check tool can be used to assess local neighbourhood improvement schemes, town centre pedestrianisation projects and city-wide traffic management programmes.

ATE Review Tools

ATE Design Assistance Tools

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