Cycling in the United Kingdom
Cycle path markings
In the UK, cycle paths are differentiated based on whether they are within the carriageway (cycle lanes) or separate from the carriageway (cycle tracks). Cycle lanes are split according to whether they are with-flow on contra-flow lanes. Different signs and marking are also used to indicate each category.
Cycle lanes within the carriageway are marked out by a painted boundary line on the road surface. The cycle lane may be "Mandatory" or "Advisory". The key differences are as follows:
- Marked with a continuous / solid boundary line.
- An order prohibits other vehicles from encroaching on the lane (this includes for waiting & loading).
- Signed with diagram 959.1, which is repeated at every junction (or 300m).
- May be time restricted.
- Marked with a broken / dashed hazard warning line.
- Signed with diagram 967, which is repeated at every junction (or 300m).
- Applies at all times.
For more info see the cycleway tag.
A cycle track may or may not follow a road. For those that are adjacent to a road, in contrast to lanes, a cycle track is physically separate from the main road carriageway. The separation may be a kerb, barrier/wall, strip of grass or just a row of parked cars.
To map a cycle track adjacent to a road you may add the cycleway tag to the highway, however it is generally accepted that drawing the cycle track as a separate way allows greater flexibility. Please note that when using highway=cycleway, omitting the surface=* tag implies it is paved and when using highway=path, omitting the surface=* tag implies it is unpaved. Note also that explicitly tagging surface is always better, especially as for bicycles some unpaved surfaces (compacted) are better than some paved ones (cobblestones). Pedestrian use is also assumed, therefore you do not need to add a foot=* access tag unless pedestrian use is expressly forbidden.
|Image||Description||Classic tagging style||Alternative tagging style|
|Shared cycle/pedestrian path||highway=cycleway||highway=path;|
|Segregated cycle/pedestrian path||highway=cycleway;
cycleway=lane; (implies bicycle=designated)
|Cycle only path (not intended for pedestrians)||highway=cycleway;
* : The route is not intended for pedestrians, but use is not prohibited. Before tagging as foot=no please check that there is a convenient alternative route for pedestrians nearby (e.g. a footway or road).
Sustrans and the National Cycling Network
Co-ordinated by Sustrans, the UK National Cycle Network (NCN) links most parts of the country with special traffic-free routes and quiet country lanes. It has its own numbering system roughly analogous to the road network. The network is mapped on Sustrans' own site, but is derived from Ordnance Survey mapping.
Sustrans Connect2 won the Big Lottery's 'Living Landmarks; The People's Millions' competition on 12 December 2007. It is/was a project to create new cycle and walking routes, bridges and other facilities in 79 locations around the UK.
Mileposts & artwork
|ncn_milepost=dudgeon||Dudgeon type milepost|
|ncn_milepost=mccoll||McColl type milepost|
|ncn_milepost=mills||Mills type milepost|
|ncn_milepost=rowe||Rowe type milepost|
CycleStreets has produced a fully-designed and downloadable 'Get mapping' guide, with particular focus on adding data for improving bicycle routing.
Transport For London (TfL)
TfL say that OSM is the most-frequent way that their data gets used, that is, they are more likely to get their information used if they add it to OSM than publish it as data files or their own API.
In 2019 TfL completed a detailed survey of cycling infrastructure in London resulting in the TfL Cycling Infrastructure Database. Following consultation with OSMUK an independent consultant was commissioned to report on which parts of the database might be imported and how.
The relevant legislation is
Highways Act 1835 s72 http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Will4/5-6/50/section/72 for United Kingdom, protected pedestrians on footways
Local Government Act 1888 s85 https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Vict/51-52/41/part/V/crossheading/regulations-for-bicycles-c for England and Wales, specifically declared bicycles & tricycles etc as carriages for Highways Acts effectively making illegal the riding of a bicycle on a footpath
Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 s 20 https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1970/44/section/20 for England, Wales and Scotland, invalid carriages (e.g.wheelchair) allowed to use footway, footpath or bridleway
Councils and other authorities may make orders which allow cycling on footways and footpaths.
- National Routes
- Regional Routes
- Local Routes (in particular London)
- Routes in Northern Ireland
- National Byway