|The map on the right shows an area which is approximately 6.5 km wide. That on the left shows main routes only on a small portion of the map on the right, just over 2 km wide. Nearly all the coloured lines show the positions of good quality cycle paths separated from the road. Almost all the minor streets which are not highlighted work as through roads by bike but not by car so these provide a tighter grid than is shown in the picture.|
One of the conclusions reached was that good quality cycle routes were of almost no use if they were not very close together. This conclusion appears on page 43 of the article referred to above (page 41 of the PDF file) where there is discussion of the result of building a few sparse high quality paths in 1975 in both Den Haag and Tilburg. The evaluation in 1981 were showed that these sparse cycle-paths had not significantly increased bicycle use. These paths were of good quality, acceptable even today. They were the sort of path that elsewhere might be referred to as a "superhighway". However, they were not effective because there was no real grid. i.e. they were too far from people's homes and destinations to be of use to everyone on all their journeys. People won't travel extra distance to get to a safe cycle-path, because the convenience has already been lost by doing so.
|The experiment which worked.|
Delft main cycling route grid 2005.
That is how it was established that good quality cycle paths should be a maximum of 500 m apart and that extra cycle-paths should fill in the gaps so that cyclists never have to make detours to attempt to use better quality facilities.
It's now everywhere
The map at the top of this blog post comes from a presentation about plans for Assen given by the city architect on a recent Study Tour.
|Conceptual version of "The Grid".|
Primary red routes 500 m apart,
district routes in green and
neighbourhood in blue fill in gaps
The right half of the image at the top of this post is a map of Assen and surroundings. In total the map covers an area about 6.5 km across, so you can see how closely packed these cycle paths are. Note that routes also go well outside the city, to all commuter villages around Assen and all the way to other cities such as Groningen 30 km directly North and Hoogeveen 40 km to the South.
There is a requirement within Assen that primary cycle paths are never more than 750 m apart. They're usually much closer than that. However, all is not lost if you're riding on a secondary route as these are also of very good quality.
|Secondary cycle-route quality in Assen. 3.2 m|
wide so narrower than a primary route. Still
adequate for the level of cycling traffic. Note
that there are always separate pedestrian paths
Every area of the Netherlands has adopted similar guidelines. The grid of closely spaced high quality routes extends not just across one housing estate, not just across one city, not just to a few outlying developments of one city, but right across the entire country.
Unravelling of motor vehicle routes from bicycle routes has also resulted in a denser network of direct routes being available by bike than by car.
In practice this is how it works out for us: cycling from our home, in a culdesac we cycle not more than 200 m before we reach two different cycle paths which provide cycle routes to all locations. This is not remotely unusual, but rather what you'd expect for almost any residence in the Netherlands. See a video of one route from our home to the centre of the city.
Other grid designs - Milton Keynes as an example
Some people may have noticed some similarity in the language above between the Dutch grid of cycle-paths and the grid of routes for cars which exists in cities in many other nations.
has some cycle-
paths but not a
Milton Keynes is dominated by cars today because this is exactly how it was planned to turn out. Dutch towns are dominated by bicycles because that is exactly how they were planned to turn out.
Further posts show how the route from the new suburb was built and what it's like to ride from the centre of the city to Kloosterveen and a video showing the route from the shopping centre at Kloosterveen back to our home.