Recommended cycle lane widths from published guidance

Document Published by Section Cycle Lane Widths Notes and Quotes
Recommended Minimum
TA 91/05 Provision for non-motorized users

DMRB Vol 5 Sect 2

Department for Transport Annexe 3 Table A3.2 2.0 m 1.5 m
Cycle Friendly Infrastructure 1996 Institution of Highways and Transportation, CTC, DoT 11.3.2 2.0 m 1.5 m Widths below 1.5m give cyclists very little room to manoeuvre around debris, potholes and drainage grates which tend to be concentrated in this part of the carriageway.

Widths down to 1.2m may be valuable in specific circumstances, for example where queuing traffic blocks the cyclist’s route, but for short stretches only.

Handbook for cycle-friendly design Sustrans Page 16 1.5 – 2.5 m 2.0m is the recommended minimum where either cycle or general traffic flows are high or the speed limit is 40mph; 2.5m for hybrid cycle tracks with high flows

[Please note that Cambridge Cycling Campaign is heavily critical of much of the rest of this guide.]

Cycling by Design Scottish Executive Table 5.1 2.0 m 1.5 m Widths down to 1.2m may be valuable in specific circumstances where available width is restricted. For example where queuing traffic blocks the cyclists’ route to an advanced stop line.
Lancashire Cycling Design Standard Lancashire County Council Table 4.2.2 2.0 m 1.5 m The absence of a cycle lane is nearly always preferable to a cycle lane that is too narrow i.e. below 1.5-2.0m .

This is principally because motorists tend to drive right up to the line, which may be too close to cycle traffic. They also direct cyclists too close to the kerb, often a hazardous and uncomfortable place.

London Cycling Design Standards Transport for London Fig 4.11 2.0 m 1.5 m Lanes of 1.5 to 2 metres may be acceptable provided that the adjacent traffic lane does not have fast-moving traffic and a high proportion of HGVs and is not less than 3.2 metres wide.
Designing for Cyclists Essex County Council / Building Research Establishment Box 10

p 36

2.0 m 1.5 m
Providing for Cyclists Lincolnshire County Council Table 3 2.0 m 1.5 m Note identical to that in “Cycling by design” and others

Note on the use of sub-standard cycle lane widths

A number of design guides make reference to cycle lanes with less than the recommended (2.0m) and absolute minimum (1.5m) widths. In all cases it is made clear that sub-standard lane widths are NOT for general use, but only for use where:

  • There is insufficient physical width to accommodate the recommended lane width.
  • There is a clear advantage to CYCLISTS in having a lane, in spite of its reduced width.

The only situations where this is likely to apply are where cyclists need to pass stationary or queuing traffic, for example approach lanes to Advanced Stop Lines or bypass lanes to traffic calming features. Sub standard width lanes should not be used where the motor traffic is passing moving cyclists.

It is not acceptable to provide narrow cycle lanes in order to give motor traffic more room or greater priority. As made clear in the Lancashire Cycling Design Standard , narrow cycle lanes increase the level of hazard and intimidation to which cyclists are exposed, and are almost always worse than providing no lane at all.

In all cases it is better to provide a WIDE ADVISORY lane (which motor traffic can legally encroach into, providing it is safe to do so) rather than a narrow mandatory lane (from which motor traffic is banned, although in practice enforcement is rare).