Cycle network strategy

Developing a cycle network plan will assist council in providing a safe and connected network of facilities in its area. This will in turn encourage more people to cycle for all purposes, including for transport, recreation, utility, education and touring. An integrated cycle strategy can address cycling in all aspects of council planning, as well as integrate cycling into other programs and policies. These may also include promotion and education strategies. Council benefits from these plans by being ready to take action as opportunities arise. For example, facilities can be incorporated in new developments and developers may also contribute to their implementation. A cycle network strategy also allows council to incorporate bicycle facilities as part of other projects, such as road network upgrades, and it assists council in applying for funding programs to support implementation.

How to develop a cycle network strategy

The following is adapted from Department of Transport and Main Roads’ cycle note A4 Developing a local cycle strategy and local cycle network plan (Click here)

There are two key elements of a cycle network strategy:

  • the strategy which includes the vision, guiding objectives, policies, strategies and actions required to improve cycling conditions in the local government area
  • the network plan which provides the existing and proposed cycle routes and facilities to meet existing and future demands and provide connectivity between destinations.

Some key steps in developing a cycle network strategy include:

  1. Research and consultation
    • undertake research to identify issues and barriers associated with cycling for all types of bike users within the local government area
    • consider establishing a Bicycle Advisory Committee to guide the plan’s development, see the Department of Transport and Main Roads’ cycle note A5 Staffing, Bicycle Advisory Committees and Bicycle User Groups (Click here)
    • review relevant national and state strategies, such as the Australian National Cycle Strategy (Click here for the link)
    • Queensland Cycle Strategy (Click here for link) and South East Queensland Principal Cycle Network Plan (Click here for the link)
    • identify other local strategies and policies which support cycling
  2. map existing conditions
    • identify and map existing cycle facilities
    • undertake audits of existing facilities in association with the community. A tool that may assist is the Bikeability Toolkit (Click here for link) which consists of checklists and resource materials that will help create physical and social environments to encourage cycling
    • identify and map attractors and generators, such as employment, schools and universities, public transport nodes, shopping areas, open space, tourist destinations and community facilities
    • identify opportunities, such as urban development, road network upgrades, operational and disused rail lines and other transport corridors, open space networks, road networks and links with regional cycle networks
    • identify constraints and barriers, such as topography, creeks and rivers, major roads and blackspots
  3. consult with all types of user groups and community members to establish need, demand and assist with selecting facilities
  4. map network and route suitability
    • consider elements such as type of users, distance, gradients, traffic volumes, speed and road space
    • consult with local users on the proposed network
  5. network implementation
    • identify type of facility and consider implementing innovative and best-practice infrastructure, for example:
      • greenways – certain routes can be converted to greenways, particularly focusing on linear parklands. Greenways are typically vegetated, linear, multi-purpose
      • Cycle network strategy and plangreen bicycle lanes – use bicycle pavement symbols and line marking — such as directional arrows, or continuous or broken lines — where there is increased risk of a crash or road trauma between cyclists and motorists. Bicycle lanes are coloured green to improve their visibility
      • Cycle network strategy and planCopenhagen-style bicycle lanes – these types of bicycle lanes are typical in Copenhagen and provide increased priority and protection to cyclists. They are separated, potentially contra-flow bicycle facilities, typically on road between a parking lane and footpath. For more information on this type of bicycle facility (Click here for the link)
      • bicycle boulevards – in Berkeley, California a city-wide network of bicycle priority streets, called bicycle boulevards, allow cyclists to navigate safely. The boulevards are marked by smart traffic management and traffic calming to put people first and cars second. Among their unique trademarks are purple signage and large pavement markings (Click here for link)
      • Safe routes for seniors – this is a New York State Department of Health funded project based in the northern Manhattan neighbourhoods of Washington Heights, Inwood and Harlem. The goal of the project is to encourage seniors to walk more by improving their pedestrian environment. The program involves engineering streets specifically for vulnerable users like young children, senior citizens and those with mobility and visual impairments. This engineering creates an environment free of significant difficulties, potential conflicts with cars and encourages people of all ages and abilities to walk and be outside (Click here for link)
      • Safe routes to school – a road safety program that focuses on travel to and from school (Click here for link)
      • bicycle loan schemes – a range of bicycle loan schemes can be implemented and are in place around the world (such as in Paris). Schemes are currently being investigated for the Brisbane City Centre. The schemes have a large pool of bicycles available at designated docking stations. Docking stations can be provided within a neighbourhood, as well as near major cycle destinations (such as universities, train stations, bus interchanges, shopping centres, office buildings). Regular maintenance and replacement of bicycles are crucial to the success of a scheme
    • identify supporting facilities to improve the safety, convenience and attractiveness of active transport, including:
      • street furniture and other supports adjacent active transport facilities, such as bicycle parking, public art, drinking fountains, seating, play equipment, exercise stations, barbeque facilities, signage, wayfinding
      • Cycle network strategy and plansignage that is appropriate makes the walk and cycle infrastructure safer, and easier to use and navigate around. As a minimum, signage needs to meet the requirements of Austroads and the Department of Transport and Main Roads’ road design guidelines. However, directional and distance signage can improve the legibility and usability of the network. Interpretive signage can also add to the interest and attractiveness of the network
      • wayfinding is the process of using spatial and environmental cues to navigate through an environment. In its most literal sense, wayfinding is the ability of a person to find his or her way to a destination. It can also be defined from the standpoint of the designer or site owner and operator who is seeking to improve the function of a particular environment. Case study example: Way Finding Strategy – Bristol Legible City
      • bicycle parking provided by councils can take a range of different forms in public spaces to supplement that provided by new buildings and developments. Case study example: Brisbane Bicycle Parking
      • Cycle network strategy and planmaking the streets more convenient and attractive places to walk and cycle, given the quality of the urban environment is a key aspect to improving facilities for walking and cycling. This involves providing active streets with public spaces, public art and landscaping. See case study example: Places for people: City of Melbourne improving active transport access
      • determine priorities of the network, considering criteria such as safety, connectivity, funding availability, missing links and demand
      • consider the cost the network, and cost savings in other areas, such as road maintenance
      • prepare a capital works program
      • implement walk and cycle networks as part of other works programs. Cycling infrastructure, relative to other infrastructure items, is not necessarily expensive and can often be readily incorporated into other works. This is particularly true for:
        • road upgrades: where practical and possible, the prospect of an integrated transport solution should be pursued
        • open space and recreation projects: opportunities exist for the inclusion of bicycle end of trip facilities, consideration of cyclists in planning of trail networks or acquisition of additional land for provision of cycling infrastructure (Department of Transport and Main Roads Cycle Note A3 2006)
      • drainage corridors: the planning or retrofitting of drainage corridors may present an opportunity to incorporate an off-road cycle link
      • provision of cycling infrastructure through urban design and developer consent
    • monitor and review of the strategy and network
    • incorporate into the council Priority Infrastructure Plan and Infrastructure Charges Schedule where relevant
  6. have ongoing network maintenance – adopt an ongoing maintenance plan for active transport infrastructure. This is crucial to improving and maintaining use of the facility. It can also be a tool to reduce the risk of potential legal cases due to negligence. Some key aspects of the maintenance plan can include:
    • regular monitoring of bicycle facilities to determine the volumes of bicycles using the facility. This could be achieved through the use of manual counts, temporary tube counters or permanent detector loops in the pavement of the facility
    • a program to regularly record audits of bicycle facilities (results should be documented). This program should conform to the requirements listed in Appendix A of Road Safety Audit 2nd Edition, Austroads (see
    • a system that allows the community to report hazards to authority staff, traces where the information is recorded and has the hazard investigated as part of the regular auditing of bicycle facilities. Most councils have such systems in place for road maintenance, such as Brisbane City Council’s Fix-o-gram or Pix-o-gram reporting systems
    • assessment of the problems identified from the audit. This involves a series of steps that include:
      • assessment of the probability that an identified problem will cause an injury or does not comply with relevant design standards
      • the costing of remedial works
      • inclusion in the budgeted maintenance program based on a prioritisation of works
      • programming the works based on resources (time, money, personnel) documenting the basis on which the prioritisation was made (Department of Transport and Main Roads Cycle Note C8 2006)
  7. consider supporting strategies to encourage more people to cycle such as:
    • reducing traffic speeds in the vicinity of active transport facilities. This has shown to make significant reductions in accidents and fatalities to pedestrians and cyclists. Introducing 40 kilometre per hour speed limits in residential and shopping areas can have a dramatic impact on road casualty rates. Reduced speeds also take away the fear felt by families surrounded by fast moving traffic and encourage people to walk and cycle more, particularly around schools.
    • Cycle network strategy and planintroducing ‘road dieting’, a relatively new term based on the reallocation of road space to create more liveable streets. Road space is often reallocated to pedestrians, cyclists, parking and central medians or turning lanes. This changes the environment and amenity along a road or section of road to reflect its function and priority for its various users. Road diets can be a very effective way of strengthening the pedestrian-friendly environment of key streets. Changing the composition of roads can also demonstrate that pedestrians, cyclists and public transport passengers are the most important users of the space.

Other sources of information

  • Australian Bicycle Council, Cycle Resource Centre: a clearinghouse detailing resources and data available on a range of topics (see
  • CPTED Guidelines: Queensland Government (2007) Crime Prevention through Environmental Design – Guidelines for Queensland (see
  • Cycle Notes – a reference tool for cycle planning and design (Click here for the link)
  • Cycle South East: Department of Transport and Main Roads detail the state’s strategy for cycling in South East Queensland (Click here for the link).
  • Guide to Traffic Engineering Practice, Part 14 Bicycles and Part 13 Pedestrians (Austroads 1999): national standards for planning and designing for bicycles and pedestrians
  • How to Prepare a Bike Plan: An Easy Three Stage Guide: an informative, step-by-step guide for council’s seeking to develop a bike plan. Although it is intended for NSW local councils, much of the content is easily transferable to other states. (Click here for the link)
  • New South Wales Bicycle Guidelines: additional standards for cycle facilities not covered by Austroads, but may be suitable for implementation in Queensland (Click here for the link)
  • Planning Guidelines for Walking and Cycling: guidelines designed to assist local government, community groups and the development sector to better plan for walking and cycling. The guidelines include information, concepts, case studies and illustrations aimed at creating pedestrian and bicycle friendly communities (Click here for the link)
  • Queensland Cycle Strategy: Department of Transport and Main Roads details the state’s position and policy on cycling including targets, strategies and actions (see
  • Queensland Manual of Uniform Traffic Control (MUTCD) Devices, Part 9 Bicycle Facilities and Part 10 Pedestrian Control and Protection: Department of Transport and Main Roads standards for the provision of bicycle and pedestrian facilities (Click here for the link)
  • Department of Transport and Main Roads: Producing bicycle network maps and cycling transport access guides: provides advice on the making of maps and transport access guides for cyclists. It recommends techniques and procedures which are designed to improve wayfinding and route navigation for the community to help them to easily and efficiently use their bicycles for transport, tourism, recreation, fitness and fun. (Click here for the link)
  • Shaping Up: Department of Transport and Main Roads guidelines providing best-practice advice on planning and design, and a variety of development types to encourage walking, cycling and public transport (Click here for the link)
  • The Bikeability Toolkit: checklists and resource materials to help create physical and social environments to encourage cycling (see
  • NSW Walking Strategy: NSW is drafting a NSW Walking Strategy to address walking for transport as well as recreation and encourage more people to enjoy the urban and natural environments of NSW on foot. There are a range of resources on walking available (see

Case Studies


  • Department of Transport and Main Roads Cycle Note A3 2006, Funding mechanisms for cycle infrastructure, [Online] Available at:
  • Department of Transport and Main Roads Cycle Note C8 2006, Maintaining cycling facilities, [Online] Available at: