Friday 19 December 2008

One Way ?

Assen has quite a few one way streets. These are used to stop roads from being through routes for cars, and work to prevent rat-running in residential streets and keep the centre of the city empty of motor vehicles.

However, there isn't a single one which doesn't allow cyclists to travel in the opposite direction.

They all appear in areas where there is relatively little traffic and the speed limit is always 30 km/h ( 18 mph ).

Signage to allow this is as simple as an "Uitgezonderd Fietsers" ("Except Cyclists" - sometimes using a picture of a bike) beneath the one way or no entry sign. It works very well, and allows cyclists to make those shorter and more convenient journeys which have to be possible in order that cycling has an advantage over driving.

Back in Cambridge where we used to live, a debate still rages about allowing cycling in the opposite direction on one-way streets. It really is time that the UK in general got to grips with the benefits of cycling and started to encourage it. However, note that what does not happen here is relaxation of one-way restrictions on busy streets. These one-way restrictions are used to make the roads un-useful for through traffic and relatively empty of motor vehicles while allowing cyclists still to make direct journeys using the entire road network.

There are many examples of infrastructure which make journeys shorter and more convenient by bicycle.

The pictures shown were all taken within 300 metres of each other, but there are many examples in other parts of the city. To see the way this city makes cycling a preferred means of travel for most people, consider coming on one of our Study Tours in 2009.


Tim Beadle said...

Did you get to see Leslie Phillips' rant against cyclists on the BBC's Daily Politics?

You may not be able to watch this outside the UK, but here are the links:

WestfieldWanderer said...

I watched those two clips yesterday. OK, so in a country where there's freedom of speech the sanctimonious old fart has a right to say what he wants. For the BBC to broadcast it along with comments from political heavyweights just goes to show that there's institutionalised prejudice about cycling in Britain. At least it tells us that a proper cycling culture here won't be forthcoming in my lifetime.

Time to get out.

Kevin Love said...

In Toronto we've even got a name for them: contra-flow bicycle lanes.

Toronto does not have many one-way streets and therefore not many contra-flow lanes.

David Hembrow said...

Tim, Westfield. It's all to do with being an "out-group". I'll write more on this in the future.

These criticisms of cyclist behaviour simply don't happen here. Everyone's a cyclist. We're the "in-group".

Kevin, that's a name used in the UK as well. However, that's not what we have here. There is no special lane. There is simply permission for cyclists to go the "wrong" way on these roads.

They are not heavily trafficked roads and they are not fast roads so it does not cause a problem.

Anneke said...

I'm not sure where to put this comment, as I'm not commenting on this particular post (although it is convenient that dead ends and one way streets are not applicable to cyclists), I wanted to ask you, David, if you've ever heard the song by Skik; Op fietse? It's a band from Drenthe singing in the local dialect about how l;ovely cycling is, and that they can go anywhere if they like.

This is the link:

David Hembrow said...

Anneke, thanks for your comment. It's a lovely song and I'm going to use it for a future post. Perhaps the 1st of January, in fact, as that would be a great start to the year.

I'd heard part of the tune before because it was used in some (Dutch, of course) cycle promotion films which I put on my website a few years ago. That tune is used in the first one here.

Kevin Love said...

OK, I get it. Here in Toronto there are numerous examples of where bicycles are permitted to do things that cars are not allowed to do.

Things like make turns, enter streets during rush hour, etc. I'll see if I can find some photos.

Anonymous said...

What is "rat-running"?

David Hembrow said...

Rat-running is when motorists leave the designated main routes and drive instead through neighbourhood roads in order to decrease their journey times.

The problem is that it also usually decreases the quality of life of people living in those roads. In particular making conditions bad for children who live on or near those roads or affecting the safety of cyclists who are avoiding the main roads.

Anonymous said...

Thanks David that is another Dutch Word for the File in the Memory Banks (UITGEZONDERD Except)

We have a lot of Ratrunning in Dublin,with Cars Diverting off the Main Arterial Roads onto Residential Estates to Dodge Traffic Lights and Heavy Trafic in Rush Hour.
The Solution is, They Put Ramps or Humps every 100- 200 Metres on Side Roads or else these Roads become one Way in Morning and Evening Rush Hour and have only Access for Residents. Except this does not Work and Traffic comes down these Roads anyway. At least the Ramps slow the Traffic down somewhat. Dublin, Ireland.

David Hembrow said...

I think the reason why it works so well here is that the roads rarely are through roads at all for drivers. There is an obstruction at some point on almost any route which will prevent four wheel motor vehicles from passing.

However, the obstruction is never more than just a pole with a metre clearance either side, so cyclists are not hindered at all.

There are humps in some places here too, but they're always sinusoidal, so comfortable to cycle over.

Lawrence said...

Kevin, Toronto certainly does have lots of one-way streets - that's one of the major peeves of cyclists here and why many choose to treat them as two-way streets. We don't have many contraflow bike lanes because we don't have many bike lanes of any description, even going the right way on one-way streets.