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The Design Manual on Safe Access to Public Transport

The Design Manual on Safe Access to Public Transport (the “Manual”) is based on the safe systems approach, which holds that users and designers of road traffic systems should share responsibility for traffic safety, and that streets should create a tolerant environment that minimize the frequency and severity of traffic crashes. With the support of Bloomberg Philanthropies, the World Resource Institute (WRI) and the China Academy of Urban Planning and Design studied the issue of safe access to public transport stations in the context of rapid development of public transport in China. The manual proposed planning and design recommendations for decision makers and practitioners in the areas of urban planning and design, traffic engineering, and other related fields. The Manual systematically analyzed safety issues regarding last mile commute by passengers arriving or leaving public transport stations, reviewed existing design standards, incorporated best practices of road safety, and proposed solutions for improving access to public transport stations. 

Key Findings

Executive Summary

Public transport has become an important national strategy for China's sustainable development. In 2017, the State Council issued the 13th Five-Year Plan for developing better modern comprehensive transport systems and put forward measures to promote the green development of transport. The plan proposed that “urban public transport shall be vigorously developed, transit metropolis shall be advanced, and the mode share of public transport shall be continued to improve. Intercity railways, urban rail transit, and ground bus shall be closely connected” and that “bus lanes shall be properly designed, and non-motorized traffic systems such as walking and cycling systems shall be improved”.

In this context, the safety of these sustainable mobility options should become an important issue. Under the strategy of integrated development of urban transport system, the safety of public transport should not be considered on its own. Non-motorized traffic modes such as walking and cycling are the main traffic options that connect people to public transport. An integrated approach towards the safety of the complete process of public transport usage should be proposed. The safety of public transport is closely related to “last mile commute”, multimodal connection, and intermodal transfer.

On the other hand, vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists account for a large proportion of road traffic casualties in China. Most bus and rail transit passengers complete the "last mile commute" by walking or biking. Therefore, it is important to improve street design to increase the attractiveness and ridership of public transport and reduce the number of injuries and fatalities caused by traffic crashes.

The Design Manual on Safe Access to Public Transport (the “Manual”) is based on the safe systems approach, which holds that users and designers of road traffic systems should share responsibility for traffic safety, and that streets should create a tolerant environment that minimize the frequency and severity of traffic crashes. With the support of Bloomberg Philanthropies, the World Resource Institute (WRI) and the China Academy of Urban Planning and Design studied the issue of safe access to public transport stations in the context of rapid development of public transport in China. The manual proposed planning and design recommendations for decision makers and practitioners in the areas of urban planning and design, traffic engineering, and other related fields. The Manual systematically analyzed safety issues regarding last mile commute by passengers arriving or leaving public transport stations, reviewed existing design standards, incorporated best practices of road safety, and proposed solutions for improving access to public transport stations.

Based on our study, important aspects of improving the safe access to public transport include:

  • The arrival and departure of passengers at the bus stop is the most dangerous part of a public transport trip. The "last mile commute", multimodal connection, and intermodal transfer process should be considered as an indivisible part of public transport usage. The safety of these processes should be prioritized.
  • Cities should improve the safety and accessibility of public transport by improving bus stop design, station zones, pedestrian and bicycle networks, pedestrian crossings, parking management, and signage systems.
  • Safe access to public transport stations can be considered at three levels: the station itself, the proximity of the station, and the service area of the station (within a certain service radius). The design of the station and its proximity should prioritize reducing conflicts between buses, walking and bicycles. The design of the service area should prioritize accessibility of walking and cycling as connection modes to the public transport.
  • Walking is the primary mobility option for public transport riders to access stations. Cities should build safe pedestrian network that focuses on improving the continuity, safety, and convenience of pedestrian facilities within the service area of the bus stop. The safety of pedestrian crossings should be prioritized.
  • Cycling is a mobility option that sees a revival in recent years in China. Bicycle connection to public transport is becoming increasingly important. Bicycle network should take a network approach, protect the right-of-way of cyclists, minimize conflicts between cyclists and buses in station areas, and plan for bicycle parking spaces.
  • Cross-sectoral cooperation and coordination should be established to address safety issues in the whole process of the using public transport. Applying road safety inspection mechanisms in the planning, design, construction, maintenance, and operation process is beneficial to the improvement of safe access to public transport.

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