Stopping on a bike and restarting again has a similar effect on the cyclist to travelling hundreds of extra metres, so regularly stopping for junctions makes cycling less viable as a means of transport.
One of the many joys of cycling in this country is that the cycle paths allow you to make progress without stopping too often. There are many ways that this is arranged, including having the paths away from the roads and taking different routes. For instance, on most of our cycle journeys from home here we don't meet any traffic lights at all. I can cycle to the centre of the city seeing no traffic lights while driving there I would encounter a minimum of two sets. I can cycle to my dentist and meet one set of traffic lights, or drive there and go through five sets.
The video shows another example. At this traffic light junction the lights default to green for bikes and only switch directions to allow motorised vehicles to pass on the road if they drive up to the detector and wait for a while. They get a maximum of six seconds or so and then it's back to green for cyclists again. It's like a button controlled pedestrian or cyclist crossing, but in reverse. As you'll see in the video, I could cycle through this without stopping. I usually can.
There are other clever things done with traffic lights here, such as having a simultaneous green phase for bikes to go in all directions at once, which again increases the average speed of cyclists.
This crossing will feature in the 2009 Study Tour.
A few years ago in the UK I measured the average time for a green for a motorist or pedestrian at a crossing near where we lived and found that while motorists had an average delay of under 8 s and a maximum of 30 s, pedestrians had an average delay of 38 s and a maximum of a minute. There are also crossings at which cyclists using a shared use path have to stop and press more than one button to cross a single road. Cambridge recently installed a junction with four button presses being required to cross a single road.
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The less positive stuff What not to do if you want a cycling "revolution" - Long list of interventions and policies which are not helpful. Copy the best examples from the Netherlands - a short list summarising the above. Important to copy the best examples, not just anything "Dutch". Bear in mind that the Netherlands is not perfect. Shared Space - this much hyped idea simply does not work well. It disenfranchises the vulnerable and claims of safety are exaggerated. Don't confuse the concept with far more successful nearly car free streets. Shared Use Paths designed to be used by pedestrians and cyclists together. These rarely work well because the two user groups are too different and it leads to conflicts. They are not built in the Netherlands (but cycle access to pedestrianized zones is good). Strict (or presumed) liability - If you think this is an important part of why people cycle in the Netherlands then it is probably not what you think it is. Helmets - one of several ways of scaremongering about the supposed dangers of what is actually a very safe means of transport
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A cyclist in a cycling family living in the capital of the cycling province of the world's greatest cycling country.
I was born in the UK, lived for over 8 years in New Zealand and have lived in the Netherlands since 2007.
I organise cycling infrastructure study tours, run an online bicycle shop, arrange cycling holidays and write a popular blog about cycling.
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