Wednesday 5 November 2008

Lowering speed limits

Today's local newspaper brings the news that the speed limit on rural roads around Assen is being reduced.

The subtitle, Zestig op platteland, gives the gist of the story: 60 km/h in the countryside. That's 37 mph. Quite enough for country roads.

It carries on: "In the coming weeks, on all country roads around Assen, a maximum speed of 60 km/h is being adopted in order to increase road safety outside of the built up area as well as inside. On the main roads to Vries, Rolde, Hoogeveen and Smilde, the existing speed limit of 80 km/h (50 mph) is being retained."

The article goes on to explain why: "This is in line with the national recommendation for "sustainable safety" - a national scheme to reduce traffic deaths (which are already low in the Netherlands). The new speed limit is better for pedestrians and cyclists as well as motorists. It's hoped to decrease the number of incidents of motorists crashing into berms and trees. It's more in keeping with the touristic character of the countryside."

A 60 km/h road, with cycle-path alongside because there's
enough traffic that cycling would not feel safe here
The roads which remain at 80 km/h are all 6.3 metres or wider and have segregated cycle paths. These roads provide good access out of the city in all directions. Many of the roads which have 60 km/h speed limits also have very good quality cycle paths. e.g. the one to the right.

Surely 60 km/h is enough for anyone on a narrow country road...

On the other hand, compare with the cycle path on a road near Cambridge featured a couple of days ago. Is it surprising that people feel happy to let their children cycle to school here, though they don't in the UK ?

Speed limits inside villages are already predominantly 30 km/h (18 mph).

Note that not only do low speed limits make cars less dangerous, they also act to discourage people from driving on roads with the lower speeds because journey times using them are longer than journey times on other roads, and especially on motorways where the limit is usually either 120 or 130 km/h.

For more about rural cycling, see the rural tag. There are also more posts on speed limits in the Netherlands.

The photo shows participants on a Study Tour in May this year. If you would like to be shown this infrastructure, please book yourself on a tour.


Anneke said...

I live on the border between a village and a city, funny to note is that as soon as you enter the parts belonging to the village everything is 60 km/h, while country roads on the city's grounds are all 80 km/h.

Anonymous said...

Do people let their children to cycle to school on 60 km/h roads without cycle paths? Even when traffic volumes are low, this seems too dangerous for some children.

David Hembrow said...

user1: Where there is traffic, even if the speed limit is 60 km/h, there needs to be a separate cycle-path, just as shown in the photo above. There are also many country roads in the Netherlands which really do not support through traffic at all. In these cases, the "traffic" tends to be no more than an occasional car from the few farms which supported by the road. In that case the children will cycle on that road, they'll probably never see cars which are not driven by their parents or their neighbours.,

Anonymous said...

That makes sense, thanks!