Thursday 31 March 2011

A secondary cycling route in Utrecht

Sometimes people think we only show major roads outside the cities’ built up area which makes it ‘logic’ that there is room for wide good quality cycle paths. But people even say that from videos shot in the center of a city.

Yes, it is true that we usually show the main cycle grid, and there are of course lesser important routes too, so why not have a look there now.

The above video shows a secondary route in Utrecht that is not part of one of the designated main cycle routes. In an earlier post David has already pointed out that a city cannot only have a few main cycle routes, there has to be a tight secondary grid too, so distances to the grid are never too big.

As becomes clear, a secondary cycling route is more varied than a main cycle route. This is true for the surface as well as for the types of lanes and separate paths (tracks). There are also more “twists and turns”. It is striking however, that even on a secondary route the cyclist never merges with motorised traffic (apart from a few service roads where only residents drive). To show everything as clear as possible the video is not sped up. It is also one long shot, no editing at all. Somehow the camera didn’t only record the wind this time either, so the sound is all ‘real’ too!

The route is almost 4km (about 2.5 miles) for which I took 12 minutes, so the average speed is 20kph (about 12.5mph). It is possible to cycle faster, but not while holding a camera in one hand. Routeplanners state a car would also take 12 minutes for almost the same route (they have to make a detour twice).

The start is in the old center of Utrecht, Vredenburg square, where a market is held twice a week and all the major shops can be found. The video ends in Zuilen, a former municipality now suburb, where incidentally my father was born.


Vratislav Filler said...

Cool. This could be totally sufficient design for main cycling arterials in Prague.

r s thompson said...

some sections looked very bumpy.

with a larger cit ylike utrecht are those to be smoothed out or replaced/resurfaced??

Micheal Blue said...

Mark, thanks for the video. It seems all of your streets are wide, even the secondary Good job holding the camera reasonably steady while riding on the bad pavement. I know from experience that's not easy to do.

Paul James said...

Great video David, it's nice to see one that shows such a mixture of surfaces and junctions and how they've been incorporated into existing spaces.

Paul James said...

Sorry, I meant Mark in my previous comment ;)

Mark W. said...

@r s thompson, yes I expect them to be smoothed out any day. The city is busy all over the city with resurfacing and redesigning streets. As can be seen at the end of the video where a junction becomes a roundabout.
This kind of surface is not tolerated for long.

David Hembrow said...

A few years ago when we did a study tour in Den Haag we were told that different political parties' attitudes to their excess of badly surfaced cycle paths had been the deciding factor in the local elections.

These things do get fixed. Here in Assen, the remaining surfaces like that on one of the routes between our home and the city centre have been replaced over the last few months.

Michael: While this might be a secondary route, that doesn't imply that it's on narrow streets. It is simply what is considered to be a less important route, so has not received the highest priority.

There are plenty of very narrow streets in all Dutch cities. You'll see some of them in other blog posts and videos of ours.

Paul Martin said...

Mark, thank you for a very interesting film. Very interesting.

Much of the infrastructure shown is not ideal - certainly not for a primary route - and they are clearly working to improve this.

Meanwhile, in Australia, we are seeing a trimmed down version of these facilities being rolled out on MAJOR routes (lots of cars, little room):

- Lanes are half the width next to parked cars (dooring is common)
- Speeds in excess of 60km/h
- Paths, if separate, are bidirectional (yet no wider than your unidirectional paths)
- No priority at side streets (quite the opposite)
- All roads are level (peds & cyclists have to go up/down gutters)
- Bike 'lanes' are always on the traffic side of bus stops (lethal)
- Lanes suddenly disappear without warning, throwing you into traffic

It's no wonder many cyclists would rather ride on the road here... as a result, most cyclists are 'brave' males.

I'm worried that planners here look to the NL, see any old 'infrastructure' and just copy it (with great fanfare...) without realising that it is poor quality by Dutch standards and is being dutifully upgraded).

Meanwhile we're left with brand new 'old' designs which won't be modified for decades!

r s thompson said...

at what level of govt are bike lanes designed and spec'd???

is it a national law that bike lanes be placed in new neighborhoods for example??

could a mucicipality remove a bike lane somewhere or is national approval need for that???