Wednesday 25 November 2009

Den Bosch at high speed

I featured a few videos by Mark Wagenbuur of 's Hertogenbosch a few weeks back. Here's another one, showing another location in the city at rush hour.

In this case, there is no real segregation of modes. However, cyclists so much outnumber drivers that the behaviour of drivers is kept in check.

I've written before about how I dislike "Shared Space" in areas with much motor traffic. My objection still stands (and I still avoid riding through the shared space centre of Haren), but it's very different where the "balance of power" is different. If bikes outnumber cars then it can work with a fair degree of comfort and safety for cyclists.


  1. this is funny -- cracked me up, like a Benny Hill skit.

    i agree about shared space.

  2. What a beautiful sight.

    It almost makes me embarrassed to live in North America.

  3. amazing what a lovely space is created when cars don't dominate. *sigh*

  4. Thanks for showing yet another of my movies David. And I agree: shared space usually is not a good thing but here it is sort of all right. That is because this spot in the historic city center is a main route for cyclists and pedestrians, but for cars non of the streets you see are through streets. Their through routes go around the center. So you end up with only those cars that have to be in the area and many many pedestrians and cyclists.
    Since just a couple of weeks 's-Hertogenbosch is featured in Google StreetView. So if anyone wants to look around at this spot, here is a (shortened) link:

  5. The 2 police (?) riders actually stopped for the pedestrians! Is that normal.

    Would you say pedestrians get better, worse or similar treatment to those in UK or elsewhere? It often strikes me that some of the cycle improvements *could* be at the expense of pedestrians. Obviously separate cycle provision (not on the footway) reduces conflict, but how is it overall. Does the pedestrian still lose out to traffic?

  6. Yes they are either police officers or 'stadswacht' ("city guards"; who also keep order but they do not have all the authorities police officers have).
    Yes of course they would stop, it is the logic and courteous thing to do towards this group of pedestrians at that moment. At the other side of the street the taxi driver stops for them too.
    I don't think any provision for one group of traffic users is at the expense of another group in the Netherlands. Nobody would accept that. One day you are the driver, the next you are the cyclist and everybody is a pedestrian too at some point. So I am affraid I do not really get your question, especially the "still lose out to traffic" part. Aren't all groups in traffic that traffic itself? Maybe someone else understands.

  7. Mark, there is a very strong "them vs. us" feeling in the UK. "Drivers" commonly dislike "cyclists" and the same the other way around.

    It's easy for this to happen vast majority of the people in Britain and the USA never cycle at all. As I pointed out in the post about Darlington a couple of days ago, only 23% of adults in that town had cycled at all in the last year. That's quite normal in Britain. Here in the Netherlands, 93% of people cycle at least once a week.

    When cycling is so common, cyclists are not alien, and all that stuff about biases against people who are different never comes up.

    I remember having a similar conversation on one of the study tours we organised, in a meeting with Dutch council officials. The British were asking about the conflict they expected was part of the picture, and the Dutch officials simply didn't know what they were talking about. They asked about what happens when drivers park all over the cycle paths, and again they officials just didn't know what they were talking about.

    It is very rare to find a cycle path obstructed here. It would be antisocial in the extreme to do so. It wouldn't just inconvenience "those funny people who cycle", but everyone. Besides, it's against the law, and the law is enforced - by policemen who also are cyclists and don't want themselves, or members of their family inconvenienced or endangered either. You get a "virtuous cycle" effect when cycling is so common.

  8. There is always conflict (as in 2 people having to cross or whatever) as shown in that video with people stopping or slowing for one another. There is always a question of how the conflict is resolved - by rules, conventions, precedence.

    I probably should have said vehicles. In UK pedestrians are often seen as intruders when they step onto the road even when they have right off way according to the highway code (crossing a side street for example).

    I've also seen places like Ljubljana where cycle culture is strong, but to my UK mind it is somewhat at the expense of pedestrian space. i.e. Cycles are lumped with pedestrians rather a lot and so the areas of conflict with cycles are greater and not where I am used to them :)

  9. What is striking on the google streetview is that car movements are massively retsricted in this area which makes this shared space good.
    I believe the first step before sharing the space in the UK is to restrict car movement by suppressing parkings, closing whole city centres (like in this videos), then people will stop using their cars and the shared space will not be car dominated.
    Otherwise I fear that is the car flows are not undercontrol, pedestrian and cyclists will suffer with shared space.


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