Do-It-Yourself visits

guiding Germans in Utrecht

As Mark Wagenbuur stated in his latest blogpost, the excursion season is in full swing in the Netherlands. We receive nummerous requests for tours in our cycling cities to get inspiration and learn from best practices. Apart from the pre- and postprogram of Velo-City, people want to see cities in personalized tours. They have read on the internet and want to experience the world class cycling infrastructure to to bring inspiration back home and tight bonds with Dutch experts. And, I received some requests from people who want to see the city on their own.  In this blogpost I will show you my personal picks on the highlights of Utrecht. Continue reading

Guidelines for cycle infrastructure versus common knowledge

Last autumn we had the first expert meeting to update the existing Dutch guidelines for bicycle infrastructure. The current guidelines date from 2003 and are available as a book and in a digital payed internet environment. There is large demand to the guidelines from abroad, so there is a translation available of the current guidelines.  At this moment the release of  the new guidelines is foreseen in November 2015. Until now a translation of the new manual is not foreseen.

History of guidelines

Dutch design guides weren’t written out of the blue. We started cycling in the late 1880’s and as bicycles and transport policy evolved, also our guidelines evolved. In the 1920’s the national policy was started to implement cycle paths along national roads outside the build up areas, with precise dimensions for width. In the 1930’s cycling was seen as a serious transport option into the development of new parts of cities, like Amsterdam-West. Continue reading

Sharing bicycle knowledge

Almost 2 years ago in a LinkedIn group, members of the Dutch Cycling Embassy had a discussion about the then proposed “pre-start” at Bow Roundabout in London.  The question that was raised was: “Can you think of any examples of ‘pre-starts’ on Dutch roads where there are very high traffic volumes, or segregated tracks/signal crossings with two lanes of traffic on the roundabout. We could take a look on Google.”

Of course we have pre-starts in the Netherlands. Initially a group member came up with this example in Nijmegen.

Nijmegen Berg en dalseweg

Nijmegen Berg en dalseweg

A so called Advanced Stop Line, or bike box is used in combination with traffic lights regulating the crossing. While this is a crossing with exchanges in all directions, the question was raised why the bike box at Bow Roundabout would have the width of 2 lanes, when no right turn is allowed. For us, Dutch, it would have been an option to give the cyclists a prestart in front of the left turn cars, together with car traffic straight on.

But in a later observation we concluded that the amount of traffic that Transport for London wants to combine with cyclists is far beyond the limits we accept in the Netherlands. With the figures of car traffic at Bow Roundabout, cyclists have real separation in the Netherlands, like Keizer Karelplein in Nijmegen. Even at one of the most dangerous places for cyclists in the Netherlands, the Anne Frankplein, Utrecht, cyclists are physically separated from motor traffic. Another example, a bit more “Bow Roundabout-style” is the junction Schieplein in Rotterdam. Also at this point a clearly separated cyclepath is used, in combination of a free green phase in the traffic lights. And the recently converted 24 Oktoberplein in Utrecht, featured in BicycleDutch blog makes clear how the Dutch separate people on bicycles from HGVs and other vehicles.

Sadly our comments didn’t hit the streets at Bow Roundabout. I don’t know exactly where the chain has broken, but it is worth to investigate how knowledge is shared, and why our advices wasn’t implemented.

Dutch knowledge sharing

Also in the Netherlands sharing knowledge is an important part of our job. During the training to civil engineer or policy advisor, only a few hours are spend to the special needs of bicycles and cycling. This means mistakes are easy made and the Dutch cyclist union still has a task at local level. Most cycling related knowledge is shared by the excellent site of Fietsberaad and during meetings. Last week we had our yearly cycling congress.

Almost 200 consultants, policy officers and scientists gathered in Helmond to share the latest findings about cycling in the Netherlands. All kind of topics (link in Dutch!) were discussed,  a brief description can be found below. Unfortunately most presentations were held in Dutch. They also contained a lot of pictures, you have to imagine the words we use.

In the morning a more scientific approach was presented why bicycles do not fall,  followed by diverse parallel sessions:

  • how the streetscape quality is improved with bicycle parking at train stations,
  • why pedestrians and people on bicycles are vital for economy of Amsterdam,
  • which obstacles we encounter with the super cycle routes (cooperation of Wim Salomons & Sjors van Duuren, Stadsregio Arnhem-Nijmegen)
  • and the importance of  maintenance of the bicycle networks.

 

After lunch we had a break when the Minister of Transport showed her support, with a labeled € 23 million for cycling of her budget for next year. Compared to the € 5.7 billion for the car network it sounds ridiculous small, but as I stated before, most work for cycling is done by local and provincial authorities.

And of course we had plenty of time to catch up with former colleagues and friends!

All the best from Helmond

All the best from Helmond