Saturday 5 December 2009

A "superhighway" out of Assen

When a new suburb was built on the edge of Assen, the new residents would be living 3.5 to 4.5 km from the centre of the city. Many may have been put off cycling into the city if the route was not of adequate quality, offering enough safety and directness.

There are many examples of where Dutch cyclists get to dodge traffic lights.

The planners came up with a great solution. The most direct route from the city centre to the new development was to be by bike. That's the red line on the map. The driving route is in blue. The red line takes in no traffic lights, and is as cycled in the video above. The blue line has three sets of traffic lights on the route as well as a couple of roundabouts. It's also a bit longer.

Much of the distance covered in the video, and shown on the map, is on road. However, these are "bicycle roads" on which driving is made awkward due to restrictions. Residents can use the road for access to their homes, but it's of no use for a through journey as there are no "destinations" on the road. Motorists are expected to give way to cyclists. They are not supposed to park on the road (residents parking is provided alongside). For cyclists, though, it's wonderful. Direct. Pleasant. Car free (well, very nearly).
When the work was being planned a couple of years ago, the local government made some very amusing cartoon versions of what it would eventually look like, including details of the four new (and one reconditioned - subject of a future post) bridges that would have to be built along here to help cyclists or to relieve motor traffic from this route.

I showed another part of the route in a video a few days ago. That video was shot from the hill which is where the yellow dot is on the map above. Also, there's a view of the last part of the road heading into the city centre, and a view of the rush hour at one point on the road. All three of those videos show a lot more cyclists than the one here, shot on a quiet Sunday morning to show you the infrastructure - which is really the star of the video. Also, the blue bridge featured in a piece about how cycling should not be an extreme sport.

Since the building of the new development, the cycling rate in Assen has risen, not fallen. 41% of all journeys in the city are now by bike.

I had to edit the Google Maps image to get the red line on. Here's a link to it without. The bike I'm riding is the marvellous Sinner Mango velomobile.


WestfieldWanderer said...

Yet another example from a civilized country on how it should be done.
When, oh when, are the British planners going to wake up?

freewheeler said...

"When, oh when, are the British planners going to wake up?"

Perhaps the question should also be: when are British cycling campaigners and organisations going to wake up? Cycling infrastructure shared with motorists on the British model isn't working, and the kind of segregated infrastructure on offer is equally mediocre.

I don't believe cycling is ever going to increase significantly in Britain until the current failing policies are abandoned, and the Dutch template is adopted.

WestfieldWanderer said...

Was it cycling campaigners or urban planners that initiated the Dutch and Danish systems?

Brent said...

At 2:20 and other points, there are white lines painted on the intersection. I know what the "jaws" mean, but what are the white lines for?

David Hembrow said...

WestfieldWanderer: "cycling campaigners or urban planners" ? I think the answer has to be "yes". Both of them.

Brent: The lines simply show a difference in level at the junctions. They're raised in order to make the junctions obvious.

What I don't mention in the video is that you have to give way to the right at these junctions. That's normal here for junctions which don't have other markings which over-ride, i.e. the give way triangles that you also mention, and helps to slow things down. It's not obvious from the hand held camera view, but I was looking down the roads as I approached.

Nipper said...

A great post David.

I too wish UK cyclists and planners would grasp the subjective safety argument. Only today while cycling on a road into town, I was passed by a car travelling at 30mph with perhaps 3-4inches between me and it, it pulled in too quickly forcing me to slow down. Within minutes I had caught up with the car and as I then joined a cycle path I overtook it. This actually happened twice on my journey. What is shocking is I was pulling a child carrying trailer, thankfully empty at the time. The car drivers could not have known the trailer was empty, it had a full cover over it; it is this kind of dangerous driving that puts parents off taking children by bicycle. I do carry my children in the trailer but always ride on cycle paths or on the pavement when I have a child on board.

Freewheeler I can't comment on your blog so I hope David won't mind if I just say how brilliant it is. It is so helpful to know I am not alone in my thinking on UK infrastructure, thanks.