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."
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.
UPDATE: Carbon trace linked to this story and I'm linking right back. I'm truly, truly astonished. It's like some kind of alternative universe...
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.
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