New software is set to be released to help planners design streets that work better for cyclists.
The AutoTURN software, which had been used to analyse and accommodate movement of motor vehicles, was updated by active travel charity Sustrans to simulate accurate real-life movements of non-standard cycles.
It helps identify potential barriers on paths, such as narrow cycle tracks, and ensures smooth flow and turn for different types of cycles, including tricycles, tandems and cargo bikes.
As a result, engineers get feedback at the design stage on whether a path or a cycle track is accessible and practical for different types of cycles.
Head of built environment Giulio Ferrini said: ‘The lack of consistent, high quality cycling infrastructure across the UK means that many people don’t see cycling as an everyday means of transport. Currently, only 7% of disabled people cycle in the UK but 33% would like to start.
'We believe this tool can play an instrumental role in opening up cycling to more people, as it clearly displays in a user-friendly way how different cycles move through space and their varying space requirements. This will ensure that local authorities and partners design streets and urban environments that are more practical, accessible and inclusive.'
Isabelle Clement, director of charity Wheels for Wellbeing, said: ‘With this exciting new piece of software, we have something that could radically change designers’ perception of cycling, and which could ultimately lead to more accessible and inclusive cycle infrastructure.’
To assess the turning characteristics of different cycles, Sustrans carried out field tests to determine a cycle’s manoeuvrability when turning including how quickly someone can steer from a straight line path into a curve, how fast someone can travel around a tight bend, and how far they need to lean to do so.
Sustrans said it works with local authorities across the UK and is currently using AutoTURN to ensure their designs are accessible and practical for more people.
The bike simulation tools will be commercially available next year.