Taxonomy of active travel

Shared path, Akman Drive. Belconnen Bikeway under construction, stand 11/10/2020

The Active Travel Framework includes many abbreviations that are impossible to remember – unless we understand the system from which they are derived. This article is not an introduction to active travel but serves to clarify the taxonomy of route types.

Taxonomy of Active Travel

Active travel is a break from the way cities have been planned. Here are the traditional urban infrastructure types. Without much consideration of paths, roads are graded into a hierarchy.

  1. Motorway
  2. Trunk
  3. Primary
  4. Secondary
  5. Tertiary
  6. Standard (local street)
Figure 1: Traditional infrastructure types
source: Cyclosm highway infrastructure

In the ACT roads have a similar hierarchy, but now active travel infrastructure does too. Figure 2 shows the system by which “paths” are designated by a function and placed in a hierarchy. There is a now standardised system for naming active travel infrastructure (nomenclature) which is part of the Active Travel Framework. The hierarchy and divisions is typical of the taxonomy found in the natural sciences. It is not frivolous but serves to create a specific language that can be then linked to specific standards. The standards are defined to create good infrastructure that satisfies the needs of the different active travel user groups. These standards are codified into statutory documents such as the Estate Development Code (EDC). The quality and consistency of our city is dependent on standards and the practitioners that apply them. 

Active Travel Route (ATR) nomenclature and abbreviations are introduced in figure 2. For the purpose of this introduction, the figure has a narrow focus on just cyclists. The Active Travel Route (ATR) nomenclature covers all user groups.

Figure 2: Active Travel Route (ATR) nomenclature and abbreviations

Nomenclature and abbreviations are found in section 2.3.1 of Active Travel Facilities Design – Municipal Infrastructure Standards 05 (MIS05).

“22.3 Interpretations

2.3.1 Abbreviations used in this document

CR – Community Route

LCR – Local Community Routes

LORCR – Local On-road Cycling Route

MCR – Main Community Route

MORCR – Main On-Road Cycling Route

ORCR – On-Road Cycling Route

PCRR – Principal Cycle Racing Route (a type of Recreational Route)

PCTR – Principal Cycle Training Route (a type of Recreational Route)

PRT – Principal Recreation Trail (a type of Recreational Route)

RR – Recreational Route”

Active Travel Facilities Design – Municipal Infrastructure Standards 05 (MIS05) (ACT Government, April 2019) on page 12 (shortened)
Traditional RoadRoadCycle separated path (off-road)Cycle exclusive bike lane (on-road)Cycle recreation (off-road)Cycle training (on-road)Cycle racing (on-road)
MotorwayHighwayPCRPRT, PRRPCTRPCRR
TrunkArterial RoadMCRMORCRRR
PrimaryMajor CollectorLCRLORCR
SecondaryMinor CollectorACRAORCR
LocalLocal access streetMixed StreetMixed Street
Table 1: Hierarchy of paths

The active travel hierarchy applies to for other active travel types. This is illustrated in table 2, but I will only discuss cycling for the rest of this document.

TypeLocation to roadsCycleEquestrianWalking
Vergeoff-roadPCR, MCR, LCR, ACRERACR, APR
Exclusive cycle laneon-roadMORCR, LORCR, ORCR
Cycle training, racingon-roadPCTR, PCRR
Recreationoff-roadRR, PRTET, PRTRR, PRT
Table 2: Where versus what – modes (users)

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