Introducing the Bikeway Report Card

I am planning to start reviewing bicycle routes, which got me thinking – what makes a good bicycle route?

So after a bit of brainstorming, I came up with a series of categories that could be applied to any bicycle route to come up with an overall rating.  I calibrated the weightings on some routes I know such that the overall score generated is consistent with the overall score I would have given it.

So without further ado, the grading scheme:

Convenience ( /30):

Average Speed ( /10):
Affected by the number of stops, and the duration of stops.

Effort ( /5):
Affected by hills, surface type (asphalt vs. gravel) and the number of stops or slowdowns.

Directness ( /5):
The ratio of the straight-line distance to the path distance.  Calculated such that a path that is perfectly straight gets 5/5, while a path that is double the straight-line distance gets 0/5.

Impedance ( /5):
The level of conflict between users of different speed. How easily can a faster rider overtake a slower one? Affected mostly by width and separation between modes.  

Legality ( /5):
First of all, is it actually legal to ride a bicycle from one end to the other?  This is a test that a shocking number of bikeways fail.  Additionally, situations which encourage law-breaking behaviour are penalized, such as unnecessary stop signs or traffic lights.

Comfort ( /35):

Interaction with Motor Traffic ( /20):
The degree of separation from fast-moving and/or high volumes of motor traffic.  The key test is “Would a parent feel comfortable letting an 10-year old cycle to school along this route?”.

Social Interaction ( /10):
How easy is it to have a conversation with a friend while travelling along the route? Affected mostly by width and noise.

Surface ( /5):
The smoothness and traction of the roadway surface.

Safety ( /35):

Conflict ( /20):
The number of conflicts that are known to be dangerous, such as those with poor visibility and insufficient signal protection.

Clarity ( /10):
The clarity of the layout.  Is it intuitive for all users to act in the correct manner?  Affected mostly by road geometry, markings and signage.

Crime ( /5):
The possibility for nefarious activity along the route. Does it feel safe at night?  Affected mostly by lighting and sightlines.

Overall: Grade out of 100

What do you think of this framework?  Have I missed any points that would be relevant in assessing the quality of a bicycle route?

The report card is available as a spreadsheet here.

9 thoughts on “Introducing the Bikeway Report Card

  1. You have a very extensive list of points to evaluate which will help minimize variation. I think it will be difficult to be fair unless quite a number of rides by different cyclists are used to evaluate.

    1. It’s definitely subjective. Different reviewers will inevitably give different scores, so it’s more of a rubric than a definitive evaluation. I plan on using it to increase transparency and detail in my future reviews of bike routes in Ontario.

  2. What if you made it into a group effort? You could post the planned route(s) to be evaluated, then give readers 3 days (or whatever timeline you’d like) to try a route and offer a grade and comment based on your rubric. Evaluators can include their own level of proficiency as well so we can tell if it’s from a novice, a mom with kids, a speed demon…. It might take longer, but it could offer extra benefits. For instance, it might attract a variety of people to try different routes around town, or even just get people out more now that they have a goal to fulfill.

    1. I really like that idea! I’m not sure how many people will participate initially, given that my reviews will be of routes all over Ontario (I’ll likely split them off into a new blog with province-wide scope), but it’s definitely worth a try.

  3. What would be helpful would be to pick a few standards or cases that would match range extents (and midpoints?) for each ranking, e.g. 1 in speed = current conditions of street A, 5 = trail B, etc.

    1. This Friday I will be benchmarking the upper range of most categories to sort of calibrate the scale. But I also want to leave it a bit open to see what people consider to be “outstanding”, “acceptable” or “dreadful”.

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