Surface Materials

Strategy Behind the Standard
Surface materials should be easy to maintain, for example asphalt. Surface quality affects the comfort and effort required when cycling. Loose surfaces such as gravel or mud can also present a skidding hazard, increase the risk of punctures and make cycles and clothing dirty in bad weather. Cyclists are also affected by ruts and potholes that can throw them off balance. Smooth, sealed solid surfaces offer the best conditions for everyday cycling.

Good quality machine laid surfaces will appeal to a wide range of users from people on lightweight racing cycles through to child cyclists. Smooth surfaces also offer greater accessibility and safety for other potential users such as wheelchair users, mobility scooters and blind and partially sighted people.

While there may be initial concerns about disturbance to the natural environment or the appearance, these can be addressed through choice of materials and the overall reduced impact on wildlife due to reduced maintenance following construction. These issues may need careful explanation during discussions with local stakeholders.

Best Practice Guidance to be used by Essex Highways

Cycle Infrastructure Design LTN 1/20 – Chapter 15.2

ECC Recommendations
Most local highway authorities specify that cycle routes within the highway must adhere to local minimum standards of construction.

When designing a cycle route, please also also take Coloured Surfacing into consideration

How the Standard Should be Applied
Cycle tracks require proper construction of each element:

  • Formation and sub-base
  • Surfaces (including transitions)
  • Edges and verges
  • Ecology
  • Drainage and,
  • Ancillary works such as lighting, fencing, access controls and landscape features

In all cases, consideration should be given to:

  • The impact of construction and the choice of materials on drainage
  • Responsible sourcing and re-use of construction products (bearing in mind that certain types and colours of aggregate, for example, may not be local and will need to be transported over a long distance)
  • Local character, and selection of materials appropriate to the context, as covered in local design or streetscape guidance
  • Reducing use of bituminous materials away from the highway by applying a surface dressing, or using alternative materials such as resin-bonded gravels