Bus stop bypasses

Closed 12 Nov 2017

Opened 20 Sep 2017


What is a bus stop bypass?
A bus stop bypass involves routing the cycle track behind the bus passenger boarding area to maintain the separation of people cycling from motor traffic. These are an important safety feature of segregated cycle routes, including the proposed CS4 and CS9.

Bus stop bypass


Segregated cycle routes are those that include a kerb to separate and protect people cycling from motor traffic. We are introducing more of these in Greater London because our research shows that when we provide kerb-separated cycle lanes and tracks then people who feel uncomfortable cycling in motor traffic are much more likely to make cycle journeys.

Making cycling journeys safer and more comfortable with segregated cycle lanes is expected to broaden the demographic of Londoners who cycle to include more women, children and elderly people, as well as those with disabilities who find cycling improves their mobility. These groups are currently under-represented among London cyclists because they are less confident cycling where there are higher volumes and speeds of motor traffic.

Are bus stop bypasses safe?
Our research has found that bus stop bypasses are safe for all road users, including bus passengers. Routing cycle traffic away from the road is an effective way to create safe, attractive cycling facilities along bus routes. The risk of conflict between cycles and pedestrians has been found to be very low, while providing a dedicated crossing point for bus passengers and design features that encourage slower cycling help to make the bus stop area more comfortable for everyone to use.

How do bus stop bypasses work?
Where a segregated cycle track approaches a bus stop, it is routed around the back of the passenger boarding area, allowing cyclists to ‘bypass’ the bus stop. There might also be a ramp up and down the cycle track on each side of the bus stop.

Some bus stop bypasses include design features that encourage people cycling to slow down and make them more likely to ride single file such as chicanes, ramps or a narrowing of the cycle track.

Passengers cross the cycle track when it is safe to do so, using a crossing point that is marked by tactile paving and coloured surfacing. If a cyclist sees a person crossing the cycle track ahead of them, they should slow down or stop to let them pass before continuing.

On buses servicing bus stops with bypasses, audio announcements and visual alerts remind passengers that they are getting off the bus onto a bus stop where there is an adjacent cycle nearby. The alerts also encourage passengers to use the marked crossings points.

Bus passengers alight onto the ‘island’ section of footway that is bounded by the carriageway on one side and the cycle track on the other. These waiting areas are at least 2.5 metres wide, to allow a ramp to deploy from a bus and for there to be enough space for someone in a wheelchair to turn on or off it.

Are there alternatives to bus stop bypasses?
The design of bus stop bypass being proposed for CS4 and CS9, with the cycle route going behind the bus waiting area minimises the likelihood of conflict between bus passengers and people cycling, while maintaining a feeling of safety for people cycling.

Routing a segregated cycle track in front of the bus stop, into the road, is not a reasonable option as it would require people cycling to merge into a flow of motor traffic at a particularly uncomfortable location, ie where a bus may well be pulling into the kerbside, and then to re-enter segregation at the point where a bus may well be moving away from the bus stop.

Where two-way cycle tracks are in operation, as is the case with much of CS4 and CS9, bus stop bypasses are crucial because it becomes virtually impossible to route two-way cycle traffic safely and efficiently into the road to avoid a bus stop and then back on to the cycle track.

An alternative layout is to route cycle traffic through the passenger boarding area, rather than behind it. This design has been used where space is limited or where there are infrequent buses and lower numbers of bus passengers, but it can become uncomfortable for both pedestrians and cyclists at busier locations.

What impact are bus stop bypasses likely to have on people with mobility problems?
It is important to recognise that disabled people walk and cycle. A significant number of people use cycles as a mobility aid, being able to cover quite large distances by bicycle, tricycle or hand-cycle.. For these people, cycling in motor traffic is likely to be more difficult, and segregated cycling tracks with bus stop bypasses provide a safer and more comfortable environment for them to get around. In this respect bus stop bypasses have a positive impact on the lives of some people with mobility impairments.

Of course, we also understand that some bus passengers have mobility impairments too, which is why bus stop bypasses are designed to make it as easy as possible for them to cross the cycle track.

We are working closely with pedestrian,cycling and older and disabled people’s organisations to ensure their views on bus stop bypasses are understood. In particular, we have formed a Bus Stop Bypass Working Group that includes Transport for All, Guide Dogs,Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), Age UK London, London TravelWatch, Living Streets, London Cycling Campaign and the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain.

What consideration has been given to people with visual impairments?
We acknowledge there has been concern about bus stop bypasses from organisations representing people with visual impairments. We have worked closely with organisations such as the RNIB to ensure we understand their views on bus stop bypasses, and are able to take forward suggestions they might have to improve their design. We have also carried out trials specifically focusing on the needs of people with visual impairments using bus stop bypasses. The results of these trials continue to inform our designs for bus stop bypasses.

The use of on-bus alerts highlighting the presence of cycle tracks is one example of successful collaborative working between us and older and disabled people’s organisations. Our existing technology means these alerts can be implemented on buses as soon as any new bus stop bypasses are installed.

Zebra crossings and bus stop bypasses
At the request of some older and disabled people’s organisations, we carried out a trial of zebra crossings at a select number of bus stop bypasses, where the zebra markings replace the existing marked informal crossing point. We were investigating whether a zebra crossing would make it easier for bus passengers, particularly older and disabled people, to cross the cycle track compared with uncontrolled crossings. As soon as the report into the trial has been finalised, we will publish the results and our recommendations as to how these might affect future bus stop bypass design, including those proposed on CS4 and CS9. 

Are bus stop bypasses used anywhere else?
We introduced bus stop bypasses on the Cycle Superhighway 2 (CS2) extension between Bow and Stratford in autumn 2013, and across other Cycle Superhighways in 2015-16. However, bus stop bypasses have been a common feature in countries like the Netherlands and Belgium for decades. They have been installed in locations with high cycling and pedestrian flows, and found to be an effective solution for all road users.

Bus stop bypasses have been used successfully in many towns and cities in the UK, including Brighton, Cambridge, Leeds, Leicester, Manchester and Sheffield.

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