While looking for the original web-page on the Assen local government website, I found a different article, the "Sustainability Vision" document. This document, dating from July 2009, gives a picture of how the local area is performing on environmental and sustainability issues, and how it will attempt to improve its performance between 2010 and 2015.
Last year, Assen made a commitment to be carbon neutral by 2020 and some of the ways in which this will be achieved are detailed in this document. As such, a very wide range of green issues are discussed in the document. However, it also includes some numbers on cycling, and that's what I'll write about below:
At the bottom of page 15 there is a discussion about how energy must be saved with public lighting. Assen has been installing LED street lights on roads and on cycle paths. There is discussion here about trying out dynamic lighting in Assen as well on cycle paths and smaller roads. This saves energy by turning the lights to full only when they are needed.
On page 18 there is a section about sustainable transport. Here we find out that "The central ambition with regard to mobility is that transport in Assen is by bike". There are figures about the present day: "At present, in Noord Nederland (the three provinces of Drenthe, Friesland and Groningen combined), 50% of all journeys are by car, 3% by public transport, 30% by bike and the remainder (17%) are by foot". It goes on to explain that "around 40% of journeys in Assen are by bike" and "Assen promotes growth of cycle traffic at the expense of car traffic".
The next page is headed "Assen Fietsstad" - "Assen Cycle City". Here, the introduction says that "for journeys within the city, journey times by bike must be competitive with journey times by car." I've noted before that this is usually the case. You see fewer traffic lights if you travel by bike than by car, and where there are still traffic lights, these are designed to make cycling as convenient as possible. For instance, you can turn right on red. Some of them default to green for bikes.
Under "Ambition", it says "The bike is the most used means of transport for residents of Assen. In the past, development always emphasized the convenience of the motorist. New developments are designed starting with the bike. The realisation of a safe cycle route network of good quality, improvements in the attractiveness of use of bikes and improvements in directness, safety and comfort are central. By 2015, so many journeys as possible must be by bike. Bikes must more frequently take priority over cars."
Underneath this are a number of examples of what needs to be done:
- The primary cycle route network must be further improved and the secondary network must make a qualititive leap
- New business and residential areas are easy to reach by bike
- The bike can compete with the car if it flows freely. Traffic lights must be set up to give the bike higher priority than the car.
- Where possible, roads which currently emphasize the car must be changed to emphasize bikes and tolerate cars.
- Dangers for cyclists must be removed.
- Bike signage must be improved.
- Better cycle parking is needed.
- More secure cycle parks are needed. In order for these to be favourable for cycle use, they must be free of charge.
- The city grants subsidies for cycle parking at businesses and schools.
- The city encourages the use of fiscal schemes to encourage cycling.
- Drenthe is a province with much recreational cycling. Access to the area for recreational cyclists from within the area is as important as for those from outside the area.
- For recreational cyclists, a touring route around Assen will be created. More connections are needed which get past existing obstructions such as the A28 (motorway), Canal and railway line.
Assen provides an example in this blog post, but it's not alone. Other Dutch cities are also working hard in much the same way. It's quite competitive.
The photo at the top shows a view of part of the centre of the city on a Saturday. There are a lot of racks in the city centre, but they were already full and not one of these bikes is in a rack. 400 more cycle parking spaces are promised in this area. It may well not be enough. If the link in this article fails, it's also now at webcite (thanks, Daniel).