Friday 5 November 2010

Amsterdam video

A nice promotional video from Amsterdam. You'll see a good cross-section of cyclists. It could, of course, be anywhere in the Netherlands.

I first saw this video a while ago, but didn't get around to putting it on the blog. Judy saw it (again) today and said she liked it - good enough reason to put it here in case any of you had not seen it before.


freewheeler said...

According to Carlton Reid, a leading figure in British cycling, Dutch-style infrastructure is not the solution to Britain's very low cycling modal share.

He says "It certainly hasn’t cured the chronic motorised congestion in Amsterdam."

He thinks you have to change driver attitudes first: "The difference is driver attitudes to cyclists in the Netherlands, backed up with legislation".

He cautions against the introduction of Dutch-style infrastructure in Britain: "segregated routes without a sea-change in driver attitudes, and stiff penalties for infractions, bring their own potential problems, such as turn zone crashes and other nasties!"

These comments are made on his blog in response to a pro-segregation post by Mark of ibikelondon, and the debate is raging on various other cycling blogs.

I think myself that Carlton Reid is quite wrong, and the infrastructure has to come first, after which, as more people switch to cycling, legislation to make the driver automatically responsible for a collision with a cyclist unless they can prove otherwise, becomes more feasible.

I would be interested to hear what other people think. I would also like to hear what others think about cycling in Amsterdam and if they share Reid's view. If I have understood him correctly, he seems to be suggesting that traffic congestion makes cycling in Amsterdam not much different to cycling in Britain.

David Hembrow said...

Actually, a recent study of "commuter pain" in different international cities showed that Amsterdam is a relatively good place for drivers.

I think this is another of the many excuses made, sometimes even from people who are pro-cycling, for why Dutch infrastructure can't possibly work in whichever country it is that they live in. None of the excuses hold water.

There's really just one reason why cycling is so unpopular in the UK vs. the Netherlands. You can see the reason on the youtube pages of people who video their rides in the UK.

No matter how many people try to pretend that cycling in the UK is a wonderous experience, it so often is not.

Why ? It's really very simple. It's because of what the roads look like.

Some British people think the difference between the Netherlands and the UK comes down largely to strict liability. It does not. As you don't have the incidents in the first place, there is nothing to report and no battles to have with the police or solicitors. Here you can simply cycle, and enjoy cycling. Just as in the video. That's why all kinds of people cycle here and not just those who have thick enough skins to put up with regular abuse on the roads.

Kevin Love said...

Ontario has had a Strict Liability law long before we started to get decent infrastructure. So it is simply not true to say that the infrastructure must come first.

Here is Ontario's law. From Section 193 of the "Highway Traffic Act."

"When loss or damage is sustained by any person by reason of a motor vehicle on a highway, the onus of proof that the loss or damage did not arise through the negligence or improper conduct of the owner, driver, lessee or operator of the motor vehicle is upon the owner, driver, lessee or operator of the motor vehicle. 2005, c. 31, Sched. 10, s. 3."


Slow Factory said...

It's quite obviously not either/or - segregation or not - if a city is not carfree, delivery vehicle-free or even surface public transport-free.

The middle-ground is not a compromise, but I don't think it's expensive either. This is the general guideline for wider streets (with additional notes), which we will call Cycling Infrastructure 2.0 (currently the best in NL is 1.9):

1 - All surface streets in cities with any possibility of motor vehicle vs. bike/ped get slowed as necessary from 50km/h or 40km/h to 30km/h max. (narrow streets, streets fronting schools even slower).

2 - Every area of street, except for part for any center-running tram or bus, can be used by bicycles. Faster-moving cyclists (from about 20 to 30km/h) will tend to use this space. They can ride two-abreast and they have to act as other vehicles, including pulling over if they are not fast enough. This will allow velomobiles and electric bikes to do what they do best.

3 - On very wide streets, there are still no lanes, so cyclists can even ride three-abreast or in large groups, as long as they let vehicles overtake when necessary.

4 - Existing and new separated paths are for slower cyclists, children etc. The speed here is about 20 and lower. This area allows no motor vehicles. It should also allow easy egress, e.g. for bikes which want to go slower, stop at shops, etc. and vice versa (this is, it seems, the new methodology for Mexico City). It has to be wide enough for easy overtaking and/or two-abreast.

5 - The all-cyclist signal at large intersections is the exception for cyclists in the faster part of street, as all cyclists can use it. This should be interesting to do in reality but will create a lot of jobs for traffic engineers before it is sorted out!

6 - Streets with side-running buses will probably will have halts as now, in between seg. lane and center part of street.

7 - Slower max. speed of motor vehicles makes cycling more competitive with driving, has minimal effect on delivery trucks etc. and no effect on center-running public transport (max. speed 40 or 50 km/h.).

8 - Having two general cycling areas makes slower and faster cyclists less likely to collide with each other.

9 - There has to be strict liability for motor vehicle operators, and possibly location-specific speed limiters.

10 - Even for the Netherlands this creates huge challenges, as there are still quite a few areas with higher than 30km/h limits.

11 - So what do people think?

David Hembrow said...

Kevin: You misunderstood what I meant. I'm not saying that strict liability requires infrastructure. Rather, that it's not actually very important at all. I don't think it's very strongly correlated with a high cycling rate.

Ontario, so far as I'm aware, has much the same cycling rate as the rest of Canada - about 2% being by bike, so this sort of proves the point. Strict liability in Ontario has not lead to cycling rates to compare with NL.

If incidents regularly get to the point that the law is involved, the level of subjective safety is already too low for the majority to consider cycling.

Of course, no law is of any help if the police won't enforce it, and I saw a good example of this a couple of days ago.

Green Idea Factory: Your idea of "cycling infrastructure 2.0" sounds rather compromised to me. Separate cycle paths and lanes do not have to be provided only for slower cyclists. The "faster part of the street" is often the cycle path.

Getting rid of cycle lanes and paths does not help cyclists, even in wide roads. In fact, it's rather a step backwards from the current situation in the Netherlands (which you describe as 1.9). NL did actually remove cycle lanes in such places back in the 1950s and 1960s when they were planning for cars at the expense of bicycles. These have now been restored for a reason.

What's more, you've missed perhaps the most important point: the removal of motorized vehicles from the streets. I think this is difficult to immediately understand. If you visit the centre of Groningen the streets look much the same as in the centre of any other European city. However, as both myself and others have shown, there is a very important distinction, in that there are as close to car free as possible. This was achieved by planning out the car routes. On a smaller scale you can see the same thing all across the Netherlands. Even older streets provide through routes by bike which don't exist by car.

Allow cars in and the speed of bikes will reduce. You'll note that the average speed of bikes is higher in Groningen than the average speed of cars.

I think you need to go away and have a good think about what you're asking for. It appears you'd be happy with infrastructure which is somewhat worse than what already exists in the Netherlands.

Why on earth would you seek to copy Mexico City ? I wish them all the best, but they're not known for a particularly great success in cycling as yet. At the moment they have a target to increase the modal share for bikes from 1% of journeys to a mere 5% - numbers which are very low compared with any Dutch city.

The best start point for anyone seeking to achieve a truly high cycling rate is to look at what has been achieved in the Netherlands, and how it was done. This is where you find the "gold standard" of cycling provision at the current time.