Active Travel SPD

Ended on the 4 October 2023

6. The elements needed to encourage active travel

If a place is designed to support and encourage active travel, more people are likely to travel by active modes for some of their journeys. Neighbourhoods should be designed so that facilities for daily essentials and recreation are within easy reach. Good onward connections through walking and cycle networks and public transport should be provided to enable travel further afield.

This SPD supports the 'key design principles' set out by the Governments Walking and Cycling Plan Gear Change; the '10 principles of Active Design' set out by Sport England; and the 10 Healthy Streets Indicators by Healthy Streets.

Encouraging walking, wheeling or cycling is not just about infrastructure, although it is an important element. Providing quality active travel routes and parking at origin and destination will only go some way to encouraging the use of active travel modes. Encouraging adults, and the next generation of adults, to make active travel their preferred mode of transport will also be achieved through engagement with local communities, training and promotion.

The following elements should be considered, where relevant, as part of any new development proposal:

  • Provision of Good Quality Infrastructure in New Developments
  • Improvements to Existing Infrastructure
  • Cycle and Wheel Parking
  • Other Sustainable Travel Measures, Promotion and Community Projects

These elements are outlined in more detail below.

Provision of Good Quality Infrastructure in New Developments

Plan to accommodate active travel infrastructure to create an active sustainable development from the outset.

Local Plan Policy DM21: Sustainable Access to Development requires that all new developments 'should seek to enhance accessibility for sustainable modes of transport.'

All new developments that are expected to increase the number of movements to and from the site will be required to provide quality active travel infrastructure, on the site itself and provide links to the surrounding network where appropriate linking the development to key local amenity destinations.

People will naturally choose a method of travel that is convenient, reliable, quick and safe. If this is the case for active modes of travel then more people are likely to use them, increasing physical activity, reducing congestion and improving air quality.

The design of active travel routes and infrastructure is key to facilitating the change in how a community travel. If the active routes between origins and destinations are safe, continuous, direct and attractive to use, this will encourage more people to consider using them.

Walking, cycling and wheeling share many similarities including many of the barriers that impact on them being used as a mode of travel. However, there are also differences between them for design purposes and the distinct needs should be taken into account when designing infrastructure. Improving conditions for one active mode should not be at the expense of another.

This will be achieved by ensuring all new active travel infrastructure is:

  • Accessible for all – coherent; direct; continuous; and inclusive
  • Safe and Secure – consideration of natural surveillance; lighting; well-designed routing; and personal security.
  • Comfortable – e.g. adequate surfacing; well maintained; adequate widths; quality of the surrounding environment; seating (as rest points).
  • Attractive – attractive public realm will encourage use.

'Accessible for All'

Active travel infrastructure should be coherent, direct, safe and accessible for all users. LTN1/20 refers to the importance of accessibility for all as a requirement that should always be considered in relation to the principles representing the core requirements for people wishing to travel by bicycle or on foot.

  • To encourage use, infrastructure should provide the most direct route between origin and destinations, making it the most attractive mode for shorter journeys.
  • Routes should also where possible follow desire lines, minimise detours and be continuous (with no gaps in the provision of infrastructure). Routes within a new development should link with existing and proposed pedestrian and cycle routes outside of the development area providing onward connections to key destinations. Proposed routes include those routes shown on the Essex County Council Colchester Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP) and any refresh of this map.
  • To ensure routes are accessible for all users, routes should be step-free and uncluttered. Unnecessary barriers should not be installed. Where barriers are required, they should be of a design to enable access for all intended users including buggies, wheelchairs, adapted bikes and cargo bikes.
  • Severance can be a major obstacle in many parts of the city. Severance can be caused by busy roads, railway lines, rivers as well as large open areas that are difficult to cross. Where a route needs to cross a road, crossing facilities should be well-designed and on desire lines, and allow for direct crossing opportunities.
  • Routes should be legible, easy to find and easy to follow. Signage and wayfinding should be continuous and legible providing information on key destinations. Signage can also act as a promotional tool to highlight the existence of walking and cycling routes and shortcuts.

'Safe and Secure'

Active travel infrastructure should be designed to be safe, and perceived to be safe, if it is to be inclusive and support active travel for all.

  • Routes should be designed to encourage natural surveillance, and where appropriate lighting should be provided.
  • LTN1/20 refers to the importance of inclusive design. Accessibility should run through the core design principles and designers should always aim to provide infrastructure that caters for the broadest range of people.


  • Where possible, pedestrians, cyclists and traffic should be segregated. The appropriate type of segregation will be dependent on the location and the volume and flow of traffic. Active travel routes should be constructed to appropriate widths. More information is available in LTN1/20.
  • Surfacing should be level, smooth and well maintained. Adequate drainage should also be ensured to avoid standing water.


The attractiveness of the route and its surroundings will affect whether users choose to use it and choose active travel as a means of transport. Infrastructure and the surrounding environment should therefore be well-designed to encourage use.

  • Active travel infrastructure can also help to deliver public spaces that are well designed and finished so that people want to spend time using them.
  • Within larger developments and communities, creating neighbourhoods where speed limits are low, or where through traffic and 'rat runs' are discouraged on residential streets through filtered permeability can also encourage the use of active travel as a means of transport.

Active Travel Provision around Schools

Large scale developments where a school is proposed should consider the location of that school within the new community to ensure it is accessible and central to the local community (along with other key local amenities depending on the scale of the development).

All schools should be located within largely traffic free 'school zones'. Of prime importance is the area outside the main pupil entrance, which must be entirely traffic free. Such pedestrianised public areas provide a space for children, parents and younger siblings to congregate safely at the beginning and end of the school day and foster a sense of community. Such spaces should be well connected to walking, cycling and bus routes that make sustainable modes of travel attractive. In addition to the environmental benefits, there is a clear link between active travel and health and well-being.

Further Guidance

This section outlines the design guidance that form the basis for delivering good quality active travel infrastructure in new developments and should be designed in accordance with the principles laid out in the guidance.

For more detailed design guidance, the following guidance documents and any updates should be taken into account:

  • National Design Guide
  • Essex Design Guide
    • New Schools
    • School Design Guidance
    • Health Impact Assessments
  • DfT Inclusive Mobility: A guide to Best Practice
  • CIHT Planning for Walking
  • Sport England's Active Design Guidance
    • Foundation Principle
    • 3 principles around Active Travel (Walkable communities, Providing connected active travel routes & Mixing uses and co-locating facilities)
  • Healthy Streets 10 Indicators
  • Active Travel England guidance notes
  • LTN1/20 Cycle Infrastructure Design
  • Manual for Streets
  • Sustrans traffic-free routes and greenways design guide

Improvements to Existing Infrastructure

Safeguarding and improving the existing active travel network in Colchester

Local Plan Policy DM20: Promoting Sustainable Transport and Changing Travel Behaviour encourages development that reduces the need to travel and improvements to sustainable transport to provide better connections between communities and their needs. It states this will be achieved by safeguarding existing and proposed routes including for walking, cycling and green infrastructure. It also states 'New development will be expected to contribute towards maintaining continuity and enhancing these connections where appropriate.'

The existing active travel infrastructure is described in Chapter 5 and consists of a network of footways and cycle routes across the Colchester area, in addition to the wider Public Rights of Way (PRoW) network and the Colchester Orbital.

Much of the existing cycle infrastructure is focussed on the urban area of Colchester with a network of on and off-road routes. However, many of the dedicated cycle routes are unconnected and there are a gaps and barriers along the network that impact on the continuity of routes. In addition, many current routes in the city were constructed a number of years ago and do not meet current LTN1/20 standards or may require maintenance or improvement to bring them up to current standards and encourage use.

It is important that the existing active travel network is safeguarded and that gaps in provision and any improvements to the network are, where appropriate, delivered as part of new development proposals to create a coherent network that is accessible by all, safe and secure, comfortable, and attractive and thereby encourages future use.

Cycle Parking

Provide cycle parking that is convenient, covered, safe and secure

The provision of safe, convenient and secure cycle parking will support the development of the cycle network in Colchester, enabling and encouraging residents, employees and visitors to use bicycles and wheeled vehicles and safely store them. New developments will be expected to incorporate cycle parking both at the point of origin (normally a dwelling) and at destinations to link into current infrastructure.

Local Plan Policy DM22: Parking requires that 'secure cycle parking should be incorporated into all residential development proposals and should be accessible, convenient to use, well laid out and used exclusively for cycle parking.'

Cycle parking needs to be located as near to the entrance of a building as possible, under surveillance, and be safely, directly and easily accessible from the surrounding cycle and wheel network. Well located cycle and wheel parking, conveniently close to the destination, plays a significant role in minimising journey times.

Cycle Parking in New Development

Developments including residential development across different typologies, flats, offices, leisure facilities and other places of work, should provide long-stay secure, covered cycle parking facilities for residents and users of the development. Cycle parking facilities should be convenient to access (at grade or via a ramp) and where possible should be integrated into the building. If external storage is provided then these must be convenient, covered, secure and overlooked.

In addition to provision for long-stay users (eg residents and staff) all development should include secure, covered visitor cycle parking close to visitor entrances. In larger developments with a number of units, this parking should be provided in separate units across the site close to all entrances.

Key principles:

  • All cycle parking should be well signed.
  • Charging provision for electric bikes should also be considered, particularly at longer stay parking.
  • In designing cycle parking, consideration should be given to non-standard and inclusive cycles that may be used, such as, cargo bikes, tricycles, bicycles with trailers, recumbent bikes, wheel-chair friendly bikes and scooters. For example, leaving a larger gap at the end of a row of Sheffield stands and offsetting further from the wall will allow larger bikes and trikes to make use.
  • There should be adequate cycle parking to meet demand. The appropriate quantity and type of cycle parking differs between locations.
  • Schools should have sufficient areas dedicated to cycle and wheel parking within their premises. Existing schools without these facilities could benefit from having this planned into future infrastructure to enhance their active travel offering.

What is 'Secure' Cycle Parking


  • Location of the cycle parking within the property or development.
  • Levels of visibility and lighting.
  • Quality and security of cycle parking stands and locks – embed cycle parking equipment in the ground, use tamper proof fixings.
  • Is the facility open to the public or restricted to selected users.
  • Consider secure access to parking compounds (eg by app or fob) for residents, employees and those parking for longer periods.

Further information can be found on the Secured by Design website: which is the official police security initiative that works to improve the security of buildings and their immediate surroundings.

Further guidance and standards can also be found in LTN1/20 and in Secured by Design Homes (2023) and the Bicycle Association - Standards for Public Cycle Parking (June 2021).

Cycle Parking in the Public Realm

Provision of cycle parking will be encouraged across the City Council area. Within existing residential neighbourhoods where residents don't have anywhere to store their bikes, the provision of secure, covered cycle parking in appropriate locations will be supported where a need is identified locally.

Provision of cycle parking within larger car parks in the city centre and beyond will also be encouraged.

Further Guidance

Guidance on the quantity of cycle parking, in addition to further information on standards and design guidance, can be found in the Essex Parking Standards.

LTN1/20 provides further guidance on the design of cycle parking and this, and any future guidance, should be taken into account.

Sustainable Travel, Promotion and Community Projects

Additional considerations to encourage the use of active travel for journeys in and around the city

In addition to specific active travel infrastructure, there are other sustainable travel elements that can complement the infrastructure and encourage the use of active travel modes. These include shared transport; integration with public transport; travel plans; promotion and training; and engagement and community projects. Further information can be found on the Colchester City Council website and on the Essex County Council Sustainable Travel webpage.

Shared transport

Shared transport includes car clubs, shared bikes, e-bikes and e-cargo bikes and mobility hubs. Further information on shared travel can be found on the CoMoUK website and information on shared travel in Colchester can be found on the Colchester City Council website.

Car clubs allow users to access a vehicle without owning one and can offer a flexible, cost effective alternative to private first or second car ownership. Car clubs therefore have potential to have a significant impact on reducing car ownership when provided in or close to residential developments, particularly in city centre locations. They provide socially inclusive, low emission mobility which helps to break dependency on private car ownership and enhance use of active travel modes. The inclusion of a car club within a new residential site can also be an attractive feature for prospective residents.

Local Plan Policy DM22 states that in appropriate circumstances, namely urban locations '…parking standards may be relaxed or car free development may be acceptable in order to reflect accessibility by non-car modes, and/or to enhance the character of sensitive locations. The use/establishment of a car club may be required.'

Colchester's first all-electric car club vehicle launched in 2023 and is located in Priory Street Car Park in the city centre. This is the beginning of the provision of a network of car club cars across Colchester that will be rolled out over the next few years.

The provision of a car club space, recharging infrastructure and financial support to provide vehicles for a period of time until established, plus marketing and incentivisation of membership, should be considered as part of residential development proposals, particularly in urban areas. Guidelines will be produced to support the provision of car clubs including information on the type and scale of development that could support a car club.

Further information can be found in various guidance including the DfT Guidance Car Clubs: local authority toolkit and through the national charity for shared transport CoMoUK.

Bike Share is any scheme where bikes, e-bikes, cargo or e-cargo bikes are available to multiple users. This can include public bike share schemes or other forms such as workplace pool bikes or community led shared bike schemes. Benefits of bike share schemes include encouraging lapsed cyclists back into cycling, providing a sustainable means of transporting children or bulky/heavy goods, providing access to a range of sustainable transport without the cost of ownership and interchange with public transport.

New development proposals could consider providing space or support to help facilitate further Shared Bike schemes where appropriate.

The City Centre shared eBike Hub, located in the Secure Bike Park in Portal Precinct (off Sir Isaac's Walk) has a range of different electric bikes available on a pay as you go basis. The bikes are available to book by the hour. Further information can be found on the Colchester City Council website and on the Cycle Colchester website.

Mobility Hubs provide co-location of a variety of transport facilities that can extend travel choice beyond the private car, promoting active and sustainable travel. Mobility hubs bring together various forms of shared transport, public transport and active transport in spaces designed to improve the public realm.

Larger developments could consider a mobility hub approach which co-locates mobility options and other community facilities. This could include access to a range of electric vehicles including e-cars, e-bikes, and e-cargo bikes, in order to encourage use for longer journeys whilst offering a viable alternative to personal car use and ownership. Further guidelines will be produced to support the provision of mobility hubs and when and where these may be appropriate.

Integration with public transport

Many journeys are short, and the entire trip can be made by active modes. Some longer journeys can combine active travel with public transport, thus reducing dependency on the private car. To encourage integration with public transport, bus stops, interchanges and stations require high quality active travel routes to them that are well signposted. As with other infrastructure, routes should be as direct as possible, well-lit and well maintained.

Bus stops should be designed so that they can be easily accessed by people of all abilities. The design of the space around existing and new bus stops should be considered when designing active travel routes so that any potential conflict between users is minimised.

Bus stops along main public transport routes that are well connected to the cycle network may benefit from dedicated cycle parking. Any parking provided should be secure to allow for varying length of stay and a variety of different sized bikes and should not restrict the space available for other users.

Further information on the Essex Bus Strategy and the Bus Service Improvement Plan can be found on the Essex County Council website Getting Around in Essex Bus Strategy | Essex County Council (

Travel Plans

Travel plansaim to promote the use of more sustainable modes of travel. They are long term management strategies for integrating proposals for sustainable transport into the planning process. They are based on evidence of the anticipated transport impacts of development and set measures to promote and encourage sustainable travel (including active modes).

Travel Plans can be useful tools to help people make active choices in their daily travel. Travel Plans should provide information and support for new residents and employees to help them find local active travel routes and facilities, and information on schemes and any discounts available.

Local Plan Policy DM21: Sustainable access to development requires 'All non-residential developments that generate significant amounts of movement will be required to produce a Travel Plan in accordance with Essex County Council Travel Plan Framework guidance and where appropriate will be required to become members of the Colchester Travel Plan Club.' The Policy also requires 'All new residential developments and schools will be required to produce a Travel Plan or provide Residential Travel Packs in accordance with Essex County Council Travel Plan Framework guidance.'

  • Residential Travel Plan – A document containing a mixture of measures to encourage sustainable travel by residents and visitors to and from the site alongside discouragements to driving.
  • Business Travel Plan – maybe required if the development will have a significant impact on the local road network and/or if there are existing transport, infrastructure, congestion or pollution problems.
  • Travel Plan Co-ordinator – A permanent member of staff with the appropriate skills, budgetary provision and resources to produce and update the Travel Plan and manage the continued implementation of the Travel Plan.

Detailed guidance can be found on the ECC planning and sustainable travel website: This includes guidance on residential travel plans, business travel plans and school travel plans.

Travel Plans should be considered in parallel to development proposals and be readily integrated into the design and occupation of a new development rather than retrofitted after occupation; they should incorporate ambitious but achievable mode share targets and contain details of the monitoring process and what further measures will be required if the targets are not met.

Colchester Travel Plan Club was first formed in 2004 by local organisations to manage their demand for car parking and who were concerned about the impact of local traffic congestion on their business, the community and the environment. Since then, the Colchester Travel Plan Club has expanded its network of businesses and organisations committed to promoting active and sustainable travel. The Colchester Travel Plan Club offers experience and expertise in creating positive travel behaviour change, resources, ongoing support and benefits that can be passed on to staff.

Promotion and Training

In addition to infrastructure, working with communities to remove barriers and change perceptions about active travel is important. Provision of training and the marketing of active travel modes to illustrate the ease and benefits of using these modes of travel to make short journeys is important. New developments should provide a package of measures as part of their travel plans to encourage new residents, visitors and employees to use active travel modes. This could include:

  • Maps showing the existing active travel networks in the area
  • Specific marketing material for new developments
  • Personalised travel planning
  • Cycle training
  • Led rides
  • Cycle maintenance hubs and training
  • Provision of discount vouchers for purchases or for bike hire
  • Information on local support network including voluntary organisations such as Bike Kitchens

The Council can provide further advice on appropriate packages to suit individual development proposals.

Community Schemes and Projects

A big challenge to active travel is perception. Projects and schemes that promote active travel should take account of the needs of different members of the community and create local solutions that address and meet local community needs, enabling residents and local communities to help shape the way they interact with their local environment. However, this can only be achieved through meaningful engagement with residents and stakeholders to understand their wants and needs in this regard.

Working and engaging with communities and stakeholders is the best way to understand their needs and the issues where they live. Identifying key gaps in existing local active travel networks and areas where new infrastructure and other projects would benefit that community and encourage active travel as part of everyday life are important.

Similarly, active travel projects should be promoted in local communities, particularly those that are local to those communities. Travel Plans could consider introducing community schemes and projects, in partnership with those communities, to further encourage the use of active travel as part of everyday life.

For instructions on how to use the system and make comments, please see our help guide.
back to top back to top