Cycle-friendly roads are becoming more commonplace throughout the UK due to the recent recognition of the benefits cycling has on the environment, public health and the economy.
In July 2020, the UK Government announced ambitious plans for the role of cycling in transport systems. However, current cycling infrastructure must undergo extensive improvements to encourage more of us to take to the cycle lanes and achieve these ambitious targets.
Core Design Principles For Cycle Paths
In response to this, the new guidance for Cycle Infrastructure Design from the Department for Transport details several core design principles, recommendations and best practice seen both internationally and across the UK.
The guidance states that cycle networks and cycle routes should be coherent, direct, safe, comfortable and attractive. Designs should also be inclusive and accessible to cater to the broadest range of people.
Comfortable Cycle Paths
The Department for Transport stipulates that cycle routes should reach a high design standard. They should be well maintained, smooth and wide enough to accommodate users.
The first aspect to consider when creating comfortable cycle paths is high-quality surfacing. The surfacing used to create cycle paths has a direct impact on the comfort and safety of riders. Therefore, it should be carefully considered. For example, gravel footpaths pose a very real skidding hazard for cyclists and also increases the risk of punctures. With this in mind, smooth, sealed asphalt surfaces such as NatraTex, offer the best conditions for everyday cycling.
As well as keeping cyclists safe, the right choice of surfacing also improves the accessibility of cycle paths. As the aim of this guidance is to make cycling a viable and attractive option for everyone, surfacing used in the creation of cycle paths should appeal to a range of users, including children, wheelchair users, blind and partially sighted people.
Surface courses should also be easy to maintain throughout the year to keep cyclists coming back and using cycle paths. Lots of materials, such as brick and stone, get dirty and damaged quickly, which affects the comfort of riders. Other materials, like paving stones, don’t provide sufficient grip, especially in wet weather. Therefore, surfaces used to make cycle paths should be smooth, low maintenance, hardwearing and provide exceptional grip.
Attractive Cycle Infrastructure
The guidance also advises that cycle infrastructure should help deliver public spaces that are well designed and finished in attractive materials. Essentially, cycle paths and routes should be places that people want to use.
As well as this, cycle tracks should be distinguishable from footpaths and roads to ensure safety. This can be achieved through colour, tonal contrast, and a noticeable difference in the surface materials used for each mode of transport. For example, NatraTex Colour can be utilised in different colours (including red, green or blue) to clearly distinguish coloured cycle paths from footpaths.
Coloured surfacing, used in conjunction with signage and road markings, is also effective in raising the awareness of drivers to the potential for cycle traffic and helping to prevent encroachment by vehicles.
Creating Cycle Paths With NatraTex
There is no doubt that cycling comes with many benefits ranging from mental health to physical and environmental. For example, just 20 minutes of exercise per day can cut the risk of developing depression by 31%. As well as this, cycling contributes billions of pounds every year to the economy and can drastically reduce congestion problems.
The new Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy, set out by the government, is focused on making cycling a more attractive option for everyone. To do this, cycle paths, roadways and footpaths need to be designed and constructed in a way that makes cycling the first choice for anyone who can undertake the activity.
At the BituChem Group, we offer a wide range of surfacing products that are ideal for cycle paths. NatraTex Cotswold is a low maintenance, cost-effective asphalt surface course which is sympathetic to the natural environment. Therefore, it can be used in the creation of aesthetically pleasing, safe decorative cycle paths and park footpaths without taking away from the surroundings. As well as this, NatraTex Colour is a fantastic option for surfacing coloured cycle paths where it is necessary to distinguish them from footpaths or busy roads.
Both of these types of surfacing are incredibly cost-effective, quick to install and low maintenance. They provide enhanced grip for cyclists and are hard-wearing against the formation of potholes and other surface deformations. If you would like to learn more about NatraTex Cotswold or NatraTex Colour for cycle paths, contact us today or request a sample to see the high quality of our asphalt surface course for yourself!