Global Street Design Guide

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Table of Contents

Global Street Design Guide

In order to promote cycling as a viable transportation option, a comprehensive network of cycle facilities must be planned and designed. A hierarchy of routes should be based on the existing urban street network and key destinations. Integrate cycle

networks with transit systems and pedestrian priority areas. The design of cycle networks should consider safety, capacity, and connectivity for all riders. Design for future capacity and mode share goals rather than present-day demands.


Cities should design and implement cycle facilities that provide safe routes for cycling for all ages and abilities. Facilities should be well maintained and kept clear of debris and obstacles.

Ensure that facilities provide clear sightlines for the person on a cycle to clearly see pedestrians and motorists as well as parked cars.


Comfort and Quality
Provide low-stress facilities for less confident riders. The quality of the facility, the amount of space to ride, and the buffer between moving vehicles will all impact a route’s usability and safety. The smoothness of the surface, the clear drainage of water, and added landscaping will all contribute to a quality ride. Trees can add protection and shade in hot climates.

Signage and Communication
Provide clear wayfinding for cycles and signage for drivers to increase awareness among users. Indicate distances, directions, priorities, and zones shared with other users through ground markings and signage. Map the city’s cycle network and show route types. Tie cycle network developments with media campaigns and public events such as open streets or ride-to-work/school programs and promote cycle facilities. Signage and communication allow cyclists to better navigate the city and increase overall mode share.


Connected and Continuous
Cycle routes should allow cyclists to reach their destinations. While the types of lanes may vary along the way, ensuring that cycle facilities are continuous is critical to promoting cycling as an attractive and sustainable mode of transportation.

Ensure that the network covers all neighborhoods and offers equitable access to cycle facilities and infrastructure. Destinations such as transit stations, schools, parks, markets, community centers, factories, and office areas should be connected directly when planning cycle networks.

A cycle network must get riders where they are going in a direct and convenient fashion, avoiding circuitous routes where possible. In cases where steep inclines or hills exist, less direct routes might be preferable if the total path is flatter. Contraflow cycle streets can improve permeability and access for riders when adopted as a citywide approach and supported by increased awareness by motorists.



The Wiggle is the local name given to a portion of San Francisco’s cycle network—a relatively flat route between downtown San Francisco and Golden Gate Park, enabling cyclists to avoid some of San Francisco’s steep hills. The Wiggle inclines, on average, at 3% and does not exceed 6%, connecting various street blocks in a zig-zag pattern. Cyclists can now travel the Wiggle between major eastern and central neighborhoods, and major western neighborhoods on connected cycle facilities.

Cycle Networks: Cities should prioritize cycling as a sustainable mode of transportation by ensuring comprehensive cycle networks are planned and implemented. Offering a range of cycle facilities that provide safe, convenient, and connected routes will help cyclists to reach key destinations without the need for motorized travel. Complement cycle networks with cycle parking spaces, clear wayfinding, cycle share programs, and connections to collective transport infrastructure.

Sydney, Australia. A protected cycle track also incorporates green infrastructure.
Copenhagen, Denmark. Wide, raised cycle tracks allow for people to ride side-by-side.
Buenos Aires, Argentina. A two-way cycle lane on a one-way street increases connectivity.

Adapted by Global Street Design Guide published by Island Press.

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