Wednesday 19 August 2009

The evolution of one Dutch road over 200 years

Mark Wagenbuur has made a great new video showing how a street in Utrecht, the Amsterdamsestraatweg, has evolved over 200 years.

Mark says "Good cycling infrastructure is also possible in old streets. This street in Utrecht (Netherlands) was designed by Napoleon when the Netherlands were part of the French Empire in 1812. It was part of the "Route Impériale no. 2" which connected Paris via paved direct roads with Amsterdam. The street design was changed several times in 200 years. It got the separate cycle paths that exist today around the year 2000."

While the video focusses on just one road so that the story can be told, it's important to point out that similar things have been done right across the nation in hundreds if not thousands of different locations across the Netherlands.

This is also a video showing a bit more of the same street. It carries on from where the other video left off, and includes some of the older infrastructure including on road cycle lane and junctions with no real priority for cyclists.


Rasmus Jensen said...

I found your blog a few days ago and have read all your posts and I have to admit that I am envying the Dutch cycling infrastructure.

I am a Dane, but I now live in Bristol so I am used to cycle a fair but but seeing the Dutch approach and then compare it to the Danish approach tells me that things could be a lot better than I thought possible.

There is a link here to one of the most busy junctions in the town I lived in in Denmark and while most of the junction is good, the approach from north (in the middle of 2 lanes with quite a lot of lorries (mainly going west though)) is not perfect as you risk ending between 2 lorries. I cannot remember if that happened, but every time I approached the junction from north I always made sure that I would not end in the middle of 2 large vehicles.

I am now living in Bristol and looking forward to what will hopefully become a cycling city, but I dont feel that it is the roads and missing cycling lanes that are the biggest problem over here, it is rather the attitude from passing drivers and the (lack) of distance when overtaking.

I can fully relate to everything you write about encouraging cycling while discouraging car driving through the infrastructure as parked cars is a problem on most roads.

I admit that I am mad about cars but while living in Denmark I never got a driving licence (I am 20 now, moved to UK when I was 19) simply because I rarely needed a car, as bike or trains was sufficient.

Now living in the UK I have been thinking about getting a driving licence and a car (something I never thought about getting in Denmark even if I had got a licence) even though I am living with my partner and we already have 1 car.

My best friend is still living in Denmark, got a driving licence as soon as he turned 18, recently got a car but he only uses that when he goes out of town, never while cycling around in the town he lives in.

When I lived in Denmark I often thought about moving to the UK, mainly because of the car friendliness here, but after I have tried cycling here and read your blog, I suddenly want to move to the Netherlands or back to Denmark again so I can cycle normally :)

Before reading your post I had not given infrastructure much thought, but I can now clearly see that here in UK people buy cars because of the infrastructure, and the authorities are making the country more car friendly based on those forecasts and not thinking about stopping this trend towards more cars as the Dutch obviously did in the 70ties.

MiddleAgeCyclist said...

Great video. I envy the Dutch passion for the bicycle. Thanks for posting.

Mind you when playing on the roads in the UK; pothole dodging, dicing with car drivers lost in a world of their own, running out of cycle lane just as you approach a pinch point has a certain...excitement! Seen in that light dedicated cycles lanes seem a bit namby pamby!!

John in NH said...

hmm, is that lane meant to be two way>? it seems majority of traffic is one direction, is there a sister lane on the other side or perhaps on another street? it would make sense to be two way, and obviously more then one person uses it as such but its interesting with these, do they tend to just create one segregated path that's two ways on one side? or is it more likely its a duel segregated path... one travelling in each direction... or is it with most things that it depends on what you have already :P

David Hembrow said...

John, the cycle path is one way. There is an identical one on the other side of the road for people heading in the opposite direction. However it is quite common that people use the paths in the opposite directions in order to travel short distances on the wrong side of the street. I guess cyclists are just lawless.

David Hembrow said...

And... I forgot to mention that this couldn't be a two way path simply because it isn't wide enough. In this part of the Netherlands, at least, 2.5 m is the minimum for single direction paths and 4 m for bidirectional paths. The pedestrian bit is in addition to this.