Friday, 23 July 2010

Cyclists Dismount ! At last I've found one...

Perhaps it's a surprise that I'm so enthusiastic about this sign, but I've been looking for years for this most elusive of Dutch cycle path signs, and at last I've found one.

Yes, "Fietsers Afstappen" means, literally, "Cyclists Dismount." And it's combined with nasty big metal fences. Remarkable. When I first saw it, I had a strange thought that maybe I'd merely dreamed about emigrating but that I really still lived in the UK...

Actually, I've been aware of it for a few months, but it's taken this long for me to get around to going there to take a photo. It's not on the route to anywhere for me.

The situation is a bit unusual. A new recreational cycle path crosses the access to the water of the local rowing club. I guess it's going across rowing club land. You can also see it on Google Maps Streetview:


Two years ago I blogged about the relative absense of such signs on the Dutch cycle path network. On the Study Tour Back in 2006 I offered €10 to the first person in our group from the UK who saw one of these signs, knowing that even though we were going to places I'd never been before I had very little chance of losing my money (and yes, I kept my money).

I've now lived in the Netherlands for nearly three years and cycled tens of thousands of kilometres in that time. I know that there are other Fietsers Afstappen signs, as occasionally Dutch people email me their photos of such signs. Often this is accompanied by text describing how "terrible" it is. However, this remains the only permanently mounted "Fietsers Afstappen" sign that I've ever seen with my own eyes.

In Britain, "Cyclists Dismount" signs are a ludicrously frequent feature of cycle facilities. I once started to make a web page showing all such signs in Cambridge, but gave up when I realised how much time this was going to take...

I still think "dismount" signs, all of them, are a blot on the cycling landscape. However, when they are as uncommon as this they make practically no difference at all to cyclists. Unless, of course, you ride past one of the few which exist every day. When there are 29000 km of separated cycle paths, built up over a number of years, there are bound to be some which fall below the expected standard. There are various initiatives in the Netherlands to identify bad cycle facilities and have the problems caused by them addressed. This is one of them.

10 comments:

Maarten said...

Most 'Fietsers Afstappen' signs are near roadworks, or forgotten after they are finished. Of course there is a site dedicated to these signs: http://www.fietsersafstappen.nl/bordjes1.html

I know another one that is permanently fixed: http://maps.google.nl/?ie=UTF8&ll=52.340046,6.107098&spn=0.001539,0.003278&t=h&z=19&layer=c&cbll=52.340163,6.10719&panoid=gt_vZNmQaLrpPPXCPER8tA&cbp=12,149.02,,1,2.87

The decent on the other side is pretty steep, although I didn't bother to get off my bike.

Your case is a bit different, as the sign also tells you that the path becomes a footpath after the sign. And of course you don't cycle in a pedestrian area.

Matt Nicholas said...

There's some sort of sign at each end of the Beneluxtunnel near Rotterdam next to the lift/escalator, can't remember if it's this one or not though.

The words 'fietsers afstappen' are definietely next to the escalators at each end of the Maastunnel though, but no sign I'm afraid.

ozzmosis said...

I notice Velomobiles seem quite popular in the Netherlands. I wonder how their riders feel about these "dismount" signs...

Frits B said...

This is a public cycle path crossing private property. I suppose the "dismount" sign is meant to cover liability issues. People carrying rowboats have priority here over cyclists, for obvious reasons. Better safe than sorry.

Frits B said...

I forgot: the dismount sign is hardly ever used anymore as on public roads the sign "pedestrians only" (round blue sign with an adult and a child) has superseded it. Cyclists are supposed to dismount when seeing this sign but very rarely do so (have a look at the Brink). The "Fietsers afstappen" sign used to be found rather frequently at the entrance of factory grounds where, again, the owners aimed to avoid all liability for accidents such as collisons, bikes stuck in rails etc.

Anneke said...

Well done, David! ;) I've never seen permanent signs before. The only ones I saw were at construction sites. I never bother to actually dismount though, it's usually only a stretch of a few meters and I couldn't see the point of dismounting, except the safety of the crew, who were walking back and forth with equipement and such. I can understand they'd rather not watch out for cars and cyclists while carrying all kinds of machinery. Nevetheless, I usually just cycle on, slowly, and never had any problems.

neil said...

Do the Dutch ones have any legal meaning?

The UK ones don't and so you can never tell if they are being used in place of a legally meaningful sign or just to mean take care (and you can't sue us if you didn't dismount and had a problem).

David Hembrow said...

Ozzmosis: Velomobiles are indeed popular. I have one myself. However, luckily these signs are remarkably uncommon. This is the only one I've seen in three years of living here, and a large number of holidays previously.

Neil: I wouldn't want to take any chances - I might end up being deported :-)

Frits B said...

Neil: The sign itself isn't binding but another accompanying sign may be. In David's example, the Pedestrians only sign should be sufficient but the "sub-sign" serves as a reminder. And as the road on private property isn't public, I doubt that a policeman would ever write you a ticket. As I said, a legal liability matter.
Have a look at this one:
http://www.fietsersafstappen.nl/fa/fa8.jpg
Definitely not an obligation but as a regular cyclist you would be a fool if you didn't dismount.

Daniel Sparing said...

G├Âteborg was also full of "for your own safety, dismount" signs at every minor construction site close to a bicycle path.

If they were really so concerned about cyclist safety, they'd have built a temporary bike path on the side of the road.

And don't say "cycling is dangerous" at every corner, please... (I was stupid not to take photos.)