Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Traffic calming the countryside

In the Netherlands, rural roads are also a pleasure for cyclists. The reason is that there are very few cars using them. Many rural roads only offer convenient through routes by bicycle. Drivers are encouraged to take other routes.

The signpost to the left stands in the village of Peize, which has just over 5000 residents. It is fairly typical for rural areas. Note that there are directions given to 9 different places by bike (the red writing on a white background), but drivers are offered only "all directions" (white writing on a blue background).

What happens if the drivers try to follow the cycling route ? Well, it's not easy. Fairly frequently these routes are not passable at all if you're driving a car. For that reason, drivers are better off using the directions indicated for them, even if it will mean a detour. On the way into this village I used the route indicated left on this sign to Eelde-Paterswolde. That means the road shown in this video:


On the way out of the village, in the direction the camera is pointing in the photo at the top, I used this one:



There are 29000 km of cycle path in the Netherlands and 130000 km of road. What is often not understood outside this country is how much of the "road" is also (almost) only for bikes. Motorists can only follow the motoring routes, not the cycling routes. As a result, the majority of country roads are almost like cycle paths in all but name. The experience of riding along them is almost completely free of cars.

There are many other examples of smooth cycle paths next to (deliberately) rough roads.

Not just the towns, but also the countryside has to a large extent been "traffic calmed". Sections of road joined by cycle path make through routes for cyclists, not for drivers. It makes cycling a pleasure.

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