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New guidance to make urban developments bus-friendly


Andrew Forster
02 February 2018


Guidance on how to make new developments bus-friendly has been published by the Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation (CIHT). 

Buses in urban developments includes advice on matters such as street design, bus priority, traffic calming, and the location of bus stops. Its principal author is independent transport and planning consultant Tim Pharoah. 

Streets used by buses “should be direct and without severe curves or frequent turns to minimise operating distances and times”. “Straight alignments can also help attract demand because they afford good visibility of buses approaching and make for a more comfortable and safer passenger riding experience.” 

Bus routes should have an unobstructed carriageway width of 6.5 metres, ensuring buses do not have to slow to pass one another or other large vehicles. 

“Where a 20 mph (or lower) speed limit is applied, an unobstructed width of 6.2 metres is generally sufficient.”

To ensure these widths are available, carriageways should be kept clear of parked vehicles.

The guide endorses Stagecoach’s Bus services and new residential developments report published last year (LTT 21 Jul 17).

The CIHT questions the conventional wisdom about maximum walking distances to bus stops in housing developments. “Custom and practice for many years suggests a maximum walking distance of 400 metres from a bus stop,” it says, noting that this advice featured in a Government circular from 1973. 

Today buses face much greater competition from cars, an argument in favour of shorter walking distances, says the CIHT. A distance of 400 metres may also be excessive for elderly people. Conversely, many people will accept longer walks to reach bus services that are fast or frequent. 

Acceptable walking distances to bus stops are lower in town centres, it adds.

The guidance recommends maximum walking distances of:

• 500 metres on core bus corridors with two or more high-frequency services

• 400 metres on single high frequency routes (every 12 minutes or better)

• 300 metres on less frequent routes

• 250 metres in town/city centres 

“These standard distances should not be applied uniformly without regard to the characteristics of the particular location or route. A shorter maximum distance may be appropriate for hilly terrain, for access to hospitals or older people’s residences, or where the walking environment is unattractive.” 

When planning bus stop locations in new developments, it is “crucial to use actual walking distances and not notional circles whose radius is the maximum desired walking distance”.

Bus lanes on roads with cycle traffic should be at least five metres wide. “If cycles have separate provision or if the number of cycles is expected to be insignificant, bus lanes should be at least 3.5 metres wide. In constrained situations, bus lanes should have an absolute minimum width of 3 metres.” 

A steering group for the guidance comprised: Martin Dean, managing director – bus development at Go-Ahead Group; independent researcher Kit Mitchell; CIHTfellow Derek Palmer; Jon Parker, managing director of consultant Integrated Transport Planning; and Peter White, an emeritus professor at the University of Westminster.

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