One of these recommendations is the design manual “Tekenen voor de fiets” which in Dutch is a pun and means both “Designing for the bicycle” and “Committing to the bicycle” thus making clear that cities and towns following this manual make a deliberate pro bicycle choice and commit to take cyclists’ safety seriously in their municipalities.
|Each municipality follows its own rules. At the border between two municipalities this cycle path doubles in width because of that.|
The manual mentioned above states that a one way separated (protected) cycle path should not be narrower than 2 meters (6.5Ft).
Just like cycle paths there is also no law for the width of cycle lanes. It is believed they can be a bit narrower than paths because if necessary it is possible to swerve out of the way of obstacles into the road-way.
That is why another recommendation, the “Handbook Road design” (for rural roads) gives a minimal with of 125cm (almost 50 inches). The Cyclists’ union feels that should have been at least 150cm (almost 60 inches) and such lanes should never be next to parked vehicles. Most cities follow the Cyclists’ Union or go further. The cities of Utrecht and ’s-Hertogenbosch both state a minimum of 2 meters (6.5Ft) for their (new) cycle lanes in their own road policies.
Let’s see what all this means in reality.
So the recommendations are actually followed very well. Why is that?
Because cycling is so normal in the Netherlands and almost everybody is at one time a cyclist, the public pressure to create good cycling infrastructure is enormous. The authorities in charge of the roads and streets feel obligated to stick to the recommendations. But there is another reason: liability.
The Dutch Civil Code states that authorities in charge of roads and streets carry a large responsibility for the state of their roads and cycle paths. Article 6:174 states that they have to compensate damages a road user suffers because of a poor state of a road.
Even though this means that a cyclist would have to prove that a road was in such a poor state that his or her damage is a direct result of it, it is still a strong incentive to keep the roads in a perfect state of maintenance. And while you are doing maintenance it is easy to keep the design of the roads up to the latest standards as well.