These old photos show how Hoogeveen's main street, Hoofdstraat, changed over the years, and demonstrate the progression towards car orientation:
|1945: Canal is still in use as a canal|
|1951: Canal filled in to provide for a future with more motor traffic.|
|1960: More cars have appeared, but there are still trees in the centre of the road.|
|1965: The centre has been converted into car parking.|
|2010: It's no longer all about cars. The water is back. A second revolution has taken place on the streets of the Netherlands.|
Note: This video has explanatory captions which are not visible on mobile devices. Please view on a computer for the explanation. See update below: While cycling was allowed when this video and original blog post was made, cyclists are now banned at busy times.
Not only are people and bikes back, but water has come back to the centre of the road as well in an echo of the situation 60 years ago - though of course it is not navigable as it was back then.
This space, like in the centre of Assen, is primarily for pedestrians and cyclists. Motorists are not central as they would be in shared space. The area allows cars for access, but doesn't encourage through journeys.
The best thing about wide roads like this is that they offer lots of opportunities to change them. Hoogeveen's centre no longer looks at all like it used to. You can also look at it yourself by using Google's Streetview:
The situation in Hoogeveen is not completely a success. Unfortunately, though the council claims to want to encourage cycling, and though a high proportion of trips to the centre of Hoogeveen occur by bike, Hoogeveen has "snatched defeat from the jaws of victory" by no longer permitting cyclists to use the central shopping street on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. This enormously wide space has been filled with decorative features leaving only a narrow space at either side for walking. Cyclists are required to either take detours around the centre (largely on roads either shared with cars or with inferior cycling infrastructure) or get off and walk through the centre. You can't legally cycle to any point closer to the centre than you can drive. This is not a good way to encourage cycling.
|The centre of Hoogeveen on a sunny Saturday in spring. All kinds of people cycle to the town centre - but unfortunately they're not allowed to cycle in the street but must walk|
|Infrastructure which is as accessible as this gives freedom to everyone, including people with disabilities. This recumbent tricycle has electric assist and gives its rider far greater freedom than would be possible if she lived outside of an accessible city. But is she actually allowed to cycle here ? Unsurprisingly, here is a high rate of law breaking by people who cycle within the pedestrian area.|
before and after posts on this blog.