City Futures Research Centre Arts, Design and Architecture

Safer cycling and street design: A guide for policy makers

The study investigates how to integrate cycling facilities into urban and suburban environments in ways that address the concerns of the 48% of people who are “interested” in cycling, but “concerned” about safety (TfNSW Cycling Customer Value Proposition Research 2013). This group is known as the elusive “interested but concerned cohort”. The study will gather new data on what design features influence or change this cohort’s perception of “safe” bike-ability.

A highly innovative element will be the use of immersive virtual reality technology to “test” design improvements on study participant’s sense of safety. Through this approach, the project will mitigate the known weaknesses of stated preference surveys, which have been the mainstay approach for trying to understand cyclists’ preferences for routes and riding environments and to subsequently assist planning new or improved cycling infrastructure.

By using approaches that are also based on behavioural observations, rather than only stated preference approaches, the project is intended to provide TfNSW and other government agencies, with an improved evidence base to that will be utilised through the next iteration of cycleway design guidelines.

The objectives of this Project are:

  • To understand current best practice cycling facility design internationally and locally and to identify the design, transport, and built environment components that influence bikeability.
  • To rigorously and empirically test, validate and improve these best practice principles in location specific settings within Sydney through creating and testing a simulation / visualisation prototype to understand community (i.e. the “interested but concerned” cohort) preferences for cycling environments and facilities in order to inform astute investment decisions.
  • To use the relevant findings to create an open-source cycling facility classification matrix tool to enhance local and state governments’ active transport planning and designing capabilities.
  • To provide TfNSW and other government agencies, with an improved evidence base to develop the next iteration of cycleway design guidelines.


Leading organisation

University of New South Wales

Funded by

iMOVE Cooperative Research Centre
Transport for NSW
UNSW Research Centre for Integrated Transport Innovation (rCITI)