Titbits: Path width recommendations

The Australian Austroads cycling path standards includes recommendations on path widths. The recommended path widths are wider than the vast majority of community and shared paths in Canberra. The Austroads AGRD06A standard is more detailed than the ACT equivalent and complement and flesh out the local standard.

What is Titbits?

Titbits: A series on the recommend design of cycle infrastructure in the ACT from the opaque world of the ACT and Australian Engineering Design standards.

The ACT cycle infrastructure falls short of what the design standards would suggest is required 

PART 1: Path width recommendations

How wide does a path need to be? Any cyclist in the ACT, will know that many of ACT paths are too narrow and results in conflicts between pedestrians and cyclists. Wider would be good yes but have you ever thought about how wide?The Australian road safety and standards body Austroads has a standard for cycling too: the Guide to Road Design Part 6A: Paths for Walking and Cycling (2017).The diagrams below will give you insight into the types of things that we should consider, this includes 

  1. the speed of the cyclists
  2. whether the path used in both directions
  3. the mix between bikes and pedestrians
  4. whether the path a is commuting route

The first figure shows a couple walking and two bikes passing each other from the opposite direction. This is a common occurrence for all the pretty lakes of Canberra. The Australian standards recommend a 4 m wide paths in these areas. This scenario is corresponds to the ACT Main Community Routes (MCR) or Main Recreational Routes (MRR). Separating the paths is not mandated, but any cyclist will attest that a line along the track between cyclists and pedestrians areas make a big difference in pedestrians behaviour. It also reminds the pedestrians to watch their dogs.

Figure 1: 4 m path width for major recreation (MCR, MRR)
source: Guide to Road Design Part 6A: Paths for Walking and Cycling 2017 (Austroads), page 83

The second diagram is for ONE-WAY paths and clearly mandates that the separation between cyclists and pedestrians needs to be BIGGER for the higher cycle speeds that are typical of commuting to work. Here 1 m separation is recommended between commuters and pedestrians as commuters can ride at speeds of 30kmh or more. This example is for ONE-WAY paths, TWO-WAY would need to be wider still.

Figure 2: Separation one-way path operation
source: Guide to Road Design Part 6A: Paths for Walking and Cycling 2017 (Austroads), page 83
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com


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