Cycle route choice: Final survey and model report

  • Published: Steer Davies Gleave, 2012
  • Authors: Steer Davies Gleave (prepared for Transport for London)
  • Date Added: 28 Aug 2016
  • Last Update: 28 Aug 2016
  • Format: pdf


To investigate the decisions cyclists in London make when deciding which route to take and the different factors that affect their decision, such as route features. It also explores more general preferences and attitudes amongst cyclists.


A survey was completed by 100 participants in a pilot and a further 2,307 cyclists during the main survey phase.

Key Findings:

  • The most important considerations for participants when deciding on a route to cycle were using the safest route, avoiding traffic (so using roads with low traffic flows or segregated cycle tracks).

  • There was high agreement with the statement: “I would prefer cycling in a cycle lane even if it meant a longer journey”.

  • Cyclists indicated that they do not always choose the most direct route.

  • Female cyclists and cyclists with less than 2 years of experience were much more likely to prefer using safer routes away from other traffic and complex junctions.

  • About half of the cyclists surveyed indicated that they would alter their route if there was the opportunity to travel through green spaces and parks. This was more prevalent amongst older cyclists (over 55s). 15 per cent of all cyclists indicated that they would be prepared to take a much longer route.

  • 40 per cent of respondents said that they would change their route to use a cycle superhighway, with 8 per cent happy to take a much longer route to do so. This was lower than for green spaces.

  • 51 per cent indicated that they would change their route if it meant they could use a dedicated on road cycle lane. 12 per cent indicated they would be willing to take a noticeably longer route to do so.

  • Turning left at a junction was perceived to be the safest manoeuvre with travelling straight across a minor junction being perceived as fairly safe as well. Cyclists perceived the least safe manoeuvres to be turning right at a two lane roundabout and a right turn from a minor road on to a major road. On average, cyclists were willing to extend their journey by 7.5 minutes to avoid these kind of junction manoeuvres.

  • Female cyclists were more likely to rate junctions as less safe than males, as was the case for older cyclists compared to younger cyclists. The most regular cyclists felt safer at most junctions than those who cycle less frequently.

  • Participants were generally prepared to consider a change in their route under the right conditions. Frequent cyclists and those travelling for a work based tripe were more likely to choose the fastest route.

  • The extent of cycle lane provision was more significant than the type of road being used, whilst the presence of an off road route was also highly valued.

  • Generally speaking, the lower an individual’s cycling frequency, the less sensitive they are to time constraints.


Cycling patterns, cycle lanes, attitudes, junctions, safety London


This report provides an insight into what cyclists value most when deciding on a cycle route.