Bus stops: pedestrians and cyclists

We are all encouraged to leave the motor car at home and walk or cycle. However, road and street infrastructure was built at a time when vehicle movements were the focus. That means a lot of retrofitting and work-arounds is needed now. The intersection of bus stops, pedestrians and cyclists is a good example of this vexed issue.
Are infrastructure designs for bus stops with cycle tracks making streets less inclusive? Image from Inclusive design at bus stops, by Living Streets.
graphic showing one design of a cycleway bypass at a bus stop.
What do you do when a cycle lane continues past a bus stop? What do pedestrians do and what do cyclists do? Who has right of way? Are design solutions inclusive? Living Streets in the UK investigated these questions and produced a report. 
The most consistent concerns were reported by people who are blind or have low vision. But other pedestrians have problems too. Confusion reigns over who has the right of way on cycle tracks that are not part of the footpath or carriageway. 
The Living Streets report reviews the literature and the status of cycle tracks in the UK. Several design options were studied and four are presented in the report (see below).  Four design scenarios are depicted in the drawings where the bus stop and the cycleway are positioned in different configurations. The researchers found that it was not possible to choose one design over another. While they provide a useful framework, they don’t solve all the design problems in the real world. Consequently, this leads to case-by-case solutions, not a one-size-fits-all ruling or guide.   

The main factors

Some of the main factors are whether:
  • The cycle track passes in front of, behind, or between, elements of the bus stop area.
  • Passengers wait on an island or on an ordinary stretch of the pavement, and whether they alight onto the cycle track, near the cycle track, or onto an obvious island
  • A bus stop island is part of something bigger (e.g. with multiple shelters, seats, trees, etc), smaller and well defined (e.g. dominated by a single bus shelter), or so small and/or insignificant that people wouldn’t wait on it.
  • Cycle tracks are one-way or two-way (unidirectional / bi-directional).
  • A bus stop island is separated from the rest of the pavement by a cycle track, by a road, or by some less conventional access arrangement (e.g. mostly used by cyclists, but open to some other vehicles)
  • Pedestrians are crossing an area of cycle track, cyclists are crossing an area of pavement, or whether cyclists and pedestrians both cross something that feels to be neither quite part of the pavement nor of the cycle track.

Recommendations for bus stops

Briefly, the 11 recommendations focus on:
  • working with the disability community on local projects
  • amending design guidance to be clear that cycle tracks are not part of the footpath or carriageway, and options for designs
  • the risks of disadvantage to a wider group of pedestrians, particularly people who are blind, should be acknowledged.

Appendices are instructive

There are 6 appendices to the main report with details of cycling and pedestrian infrastructure and bus stops. Photographs illustrate the text and provide examples of what does and does not work. A great toolbox of ideas to work with.  Inclusive design at bus stops with cycle tracks: Appendix 1 – (Detailed study sites)

Inclusive design at bus stops with cycle tracks: Appendices 2-6 – MARCH 2024

There is much more to this document titled, Inclusive design at bus stops with cycle tracks – MARCH 2024. Kerb designs, colour, separation of pedestrians and cyclists, kerb-free crossings and signalised crossings. A pertinent point raised by people with disability was about the emphasis on this aspect of street design. That’s because they see so many other serious problems with street design and maintenance. 

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