I am planning to start reviewing bicycle routes, which got me thinking – what makes a good bicycle route?
So after a bit of brainstorming, I came up with a series of categories that could be applied to any bicycle route to come up with an overall rating. I calibrated the weightings on some routes I know such that the overall score generated is consistent with the overall score I would have given it.
So without further ado, the grading scheme:
Convenience ( /30):
Average Speed ( /10):
Affected by the number of stops, and the duration of stops.
Effort ( /5):
Affected by hills, surface type (asphalt vs. gravel) and the number of stops or slowdowns.
Directness ( /5):
The ratio of the straight-line distance to the path distance. Calculated such that a path that is perfectly straight gets 5/5, while a path that is double the straight-line distance gets 0/5.
Impedance ( /5):
The level of conflict between users of different speed. How easily can a faster rider overtake a slower one? Affected mostly by width and separation between modes.
Legality ( /5):
First of all, is it actually legal to ride a bicycle from one end to the other? This is a test that a shocking number of bikeways fail. Additionally, situations which encourage law-breaking behaviour are penalized, such as unnecessary stop signs or traffic lights.
Comfort ( /35):
Interaction with Motor Traffic ( /20):
The degree of separation from fast-moving and/or high volumes of motor traffic. The key test is “Would a parent feel comfortable letting an 10-year old cycle to school along this route?”.
Social Interaction ( /10):
How easy is it to have a conversation with a friend while travelling along the route? Affected mostly by width and noise.
Surface ( /5):
The smoothness and traction of the roadway surface.
Safety ( /35):
Conflict ( /20):
The number of conflicts that are known to be dangerous, such as those with poor visibility and insufficient signal protection.
Clarity ( /10):
The clarity of the layout. Is it intuitive for all users to act in the correct manner? Affected mostly by road geometry, markings and signage.
Crime ( /5):
The possibility for nefarious activity along the route. Does it feel safe at night? Affected mostly by lighting and sightlines.
Overall: Grade out of 100
What do you think of this framework? Have I missed any points that would be relevant in assessing the quality of a bicycle route?
The report card is available as a spreadsheet here.