Steady infrastructure evolution

In October I had the pleasure to speak at the second edition of VeloFinland in Helsinki. In my presentation I gave some insights about 25 years being active in the field of cycling promotion. In the afternoon we had a nice tour in the fresh autumn weather of Helsinki.

We were shown some great examples of city building, but also some small tweaks on Baana, a section I have written before. It is interesting to see how cities, not only in the Netherlands, are evolving. Today I show some examples of changes I witnessed this year.

The continues efforts to make cycling infrastructure better was also clearly shown a month later when I was in The Hague, to explore a short part of the long distance cycle route EuroVelo 12 (LF 1) between Scheveningen and Katwijk. On my way to tRaamweghe dunes I passed the Plesmanweg, named after the founder of the Royal Dutch Airlines Albert Plesman, witch former headquarter now houses the ministry of Infrastructure and Environment. The Plesmanweg, originally named Raamweg, was constructed as road to connect the spa Scheveningen with the city The Hague, including a tramway.
In 1968 the the road was widened tot 2×2 wide lanes, the view I knew from childhood. Later some tactical urbanism took place, by narrowing the traffic lanes and protecting cycling.

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Plesmanweg 2013: protection from car traffic is good, but drainage is bad.

In 2015  the road lay-out was changed again, and this time more in favor of cyclists. The road was narrowed more, to give space for trees and wide elevated cycle lanes.

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Plesmanweg 2016: elevated protected cycle lane. More space for natural drainage and trees.

Treasuring this discovery I could cycle with my friend Gábor from Budapest in the dunes. Half a year earlier I had cycled with him in Budapest to see highlights of the city and discuss the political situation in both the Netherlands and Hungary. Typically  the most thorough change had taken place in front of the parliament building. It was made car free and the quality of public space had improved dramatically.

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Kossuth Lajo tér 2012: divided space and worn concrete and asphalt.

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Kossuth Lajos tér 2016: natural stone paved square becomes cyclist and pedestrian friendly.

In my presentation in Helsinki I showed  my first small victory when I was in the local branch of Cyclist Union in 1994. It was the redesign of NS-plein in Tilburg, my hometown at that time. The plans were drawn and included (of course!) protected cycle lanes. I figured out that it was difficult for cyclists to make a left turn after the crossing. My suggestion was to shorten the curb between the car lanes and the cycle lane. Happy to see that again when I visited the city in 2013.

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Tilburg, NS Plein 2013: curb setback to make a smooth curve possible.

In 2016 not only the number of lanes to cross had risen from 3 to 5, also the  angle for cyclists was sharp again, discomforting cyclists. A first world problem? Sure, but if you want encourage cycling, details matter and you should do everything possible.

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