On the way home tonight, just 5 km from Assen, I passed a guy who I thought looked like a tourist on a bike. He was riding a mountain bike and carrying a huge rucksack on his back (a very uncomfortable way to carry weight on a bike).
A short distance further on I stopped to buy vegetables from a roadside stall (50 cm long marrows for 40 cents each - I put one either side in the back of the Mango) and while I was doing this, the tourist passed me.
As I came into Assen I could see him approaching a junction that I ride through every day, and which I've featured before on the blog.
The traffic light for bicycles was green, as it usually is because the light defaults to green for bikes and only switches to red if a car has approached the junction and (either from the side road or in lanes which lead this way on the main road). The light for pedestrians was red. Again, this is as usual. Those don't switch unless you press the pedestrian button. The tourist stopped, looking at the lights for pedestrians.
Even though the timing of this light is set up to favour bikes, there is also a loop under the cycle path as you approach the junction, and as a final backup just in case nothing else works there is also a button for cyclists to press. The tourist was pressing the button. And waiting. And waiting some more. If he'd pressed the separate button for pedestrians, that would have had an instant effect on the pedestrian lights. However, as he was pressing the button for cyclists, and the light was already green, it did nothing at all.
As I reached the traffic light, it was still green for bikes, so I rode straight over the junction. In my rear view mirror I could see the tourist was still waiting, and perhaps also nodding his head at me disapprovingly for "going through a red light."
So, why write this ? Well, sometimes people find what we have here in the Netherlands a bit confusing. This chap obviously did. One of the reasons why we organise study tours is to show how things really work as I've noticed that sometimes people simply don't understand. I've occasionally read some utter nonsense in the past from people who did things as extreme as not finding out in advance that "fietspad" means cycle path and not footpath, or from people who are outraged at the number of "wrong way cyclists" on one way streets because they don't know what "uitgezonderd" means.
I have a fear that this chap will return from his holiday with tales of how he visited the Netherlands, and even Assen which that David Hembrow bloke goes on so much about, and "found out" that traffic lights there were hopeless for cyclists and that the locals have to ride through on red because the lights never go green for cyclists.
Anyway, here's the same junction, in a video I made a couple of years back, heading in the opposite direction. You can clearly see the red pedestrian lights as well as the green cycle lights in the video:
The same traffic light also featured in another blog post. And if you're wondering, given that this one has now cropped up three times, it's not the only traffic light in Assen, and it's not the only one which defaults to green for bikes either.
Planning disaster in the making
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