Saturday 19 May 2012

May 2012 Study Tour roundup

Between May 8th and 10th we hosted a public study tour in Assen and Groningen. This time around we had participants from Brazil, Canada, France, Ireland, the United Kingdom and the United States. Find below a selection of photographs taken during the tour:

Shared Space in Haren. When we visited on this Study Tour, a group of school children were doing surveys. I took part in their survey so was asked questions about how safe it felt. Meanwhile, other youngsters were counting how often cars gave way to bicycles in places where bicycles had priority over cars. Shared Space is deservedly unpopular, as it is seen as having brought back "might is right" to Dutch streets.

Where 1960s planners built motorways in the world's leading cycling city, Groningen

A main route to Groningen. 3 m cycle path each side of the road.

In the Netherlands, this is not called a "superhighway". Rather it is merely one of many very efficient cycle-paths which provide through routes between suburbs.

The most dangerous junction in the Netherlands (but not nearly so dangerous as the most dangerous junctions in other places)

Some of the many bridges in Assen. That in the foreground is on the most direct route and therefore is only for bicycles. That in the rear is for cars and bikes (on a separate cycle-path).

Explaining why a 30 km/h street in Assen has a wide cycle-path next to it. This is not uncommon and arises where the cycle-route is more important than the driving route.

Cycle parking at a bus station in Assen

A wide cycle-path next to a 50 km/h road near an industrial estate in Assen. This is not on a school route - this cycle-path is primarily for adult commuters.

A 1950s suburb retrofitted to provide better conditions for cycling.

Many tunnels and underpasses allow cyclists to avoid complex road junctions and make more efficient journeys by dodging traffic lights

The school run when it's raining

Most children ride their own bikes. Only the youngest travel on their parents' bikes.

Part of main route between Assen and a suburb

The Berlagebrug in Groningen. This new bridge was part of the reason why Groningen didn't win "cycling city of the year" due to its steepness ("like Alpe d'Huez") and the perceived inadequate cycling provision on the bridge. The expectations of cyclists in the Netherlands are very high - expectations must be high in order that progress can be made.

The next public study tour starts on September 11th 2012. Please contact us to book.

For more information, please visit the study tour web page.


Anonymous said...

We are in NL next month for a few weeks. If there is one piece of cycle infrastructure we should see what is it?

David Hembrow said...

Anonymous: I can make no such recommendation, and while it may sound flippant I have to say that by trying to find such a single piece of infrastructure you're looking at it all wrong.

It has been known for a very long time that it is the comprehensive network which makes the difference here, not just a few "good" pieces of infrastructure.

Please look at the entire network and how it works as a whole, starting wherever you start and ending wherever you end.

If, on the other hand, if you want individual parts explained to you, so that you know what the contribution of each is, then book a study tour.

christhebull said...

If the first commentator went to an underdeveloped cycling city such as Bristol, I would gladly tell them to ride on the cycle track through Castle Park (but to ignore the cobbled section at one end), or perhaps the Bristol to Bath Railway Path (actually, this would make a much better "ride" as it is much longer).

In the Netherlands these pieces of infrastructure would not be particularly notable, although I would be interested to know if there are any "railway paths" in the Netherlands - or maybe Dr Beeching's ideas never made it there...

That said, the "all directions green" junctions are worth looking at. They have separate cycle paths across the junctions which is not unusual in the Netherlands, but the phasing allows cyclists in from all approaches to cross in all directions during a special phase.

David Hembrow said...

Chris, all directions green junctions are not at all uncommon, there are many here in Assen, let alone in other larger cities, so they're not a singular thing to look at either. (I've quite a few blog posts about them btw)

webmaster said...

@christhebull Oh, we had our own Dr Beeching in the Netherlands. Along a lot of roads we had long distance tramways, when they were abandoned (late '50/begin '60) the space was converted in cycle tracks or lanes for cars. Only a few railwaylines became real Railway paths. Tilburg-Turnhout and SprangCapelle-Vlijmen both in Noord-Brabant are very known. But also Geldrop-Heeze, Spijkenisse-Hellevoetsluis (former tramway), Delft-Schipluiden (with nice bridge!) and Bilthoven-Zeist are railway trails that cross my mind. But I am sure also in Drenthe and in Gelderland you can find former tramways or railtracks that are converted into railway paths (Assen-Rolde?, Groenlo).

The best one is maybe between Groesbeek and Kranenburg (Germany), where the railtracks still exist and you ride on a "draisine". Very funny to do, but not cycling in the normal way.

David Hembrow said...

webmaster: I forgot to answer that bit. You're quite right. There are converted ex-rail/tramway paths in the Netherlands, and Assen to Rolde is (in part at least) one of them.

Judy and I went a long distance on a fabulous cycle-path along an ex railway line when we rode back from Arnhem a couple of weeks ago.

christhebull said...

@David - I was under the impression that the all directions green junctions were quite rare, but if there are lots in a small town like Assen then I must be wrong. Actually, I was probably basing their prevalence on our pedestrian equivalent, to be found at Oxford Circus (which was supposedly a "new" thing despite a scramble crossing being outside Balham tube station first).

While Bristol has several traffic lights with an all red phase which then allow pedestrian movements on all arms, none of them have diagonal crossings marked even though this would only require modifications to the dropped kerbs, removal of railings where present, extra signal heads, and a fairly minor lengthening of the pedestrian phase.

David Hembrow said...

Chris, simultaneous green junctions started at this end of the country and are spreading south. Now nearly every traffic light in Groningen and Assen is like this.

Anonymous said...

Hi David. I have just returned to the UK after 14 years living and work in the Netherlands. I cycled to work around Rotterdam most days and went for 40 - 80 KM 'pleasure' rides at the weekend. I never had an accident or felt unsafe but on the first ride back in the UK a few weeks ago I was almost run-over by an idiot reversing off his runway and on the same ride hit by a wing-mirror at a pinch-point. I miss the Netherlands.

By the way I was blown away when I first arrived in Rotterdam and took a trip south of the old Maas only to find that these amazing Nederlanders had built two large lifts to take cycles down to an underpass under the river next to a tunnel for a local road as well as a larger one for the A29. This is the thinking needed to build a cycling country. (can be seen on Google maps at 51.837017, 4.515730 )

Alex said...

As a resident in Ireland, I would be curious to know who the guys from Ireland were. Was it officials? Campaigners (that would surprise me a lot)? Road engineers?

David Hembrow said...

Alex: as you might expect, I won't give away anyones' details, though they're welcome to de-anonymise themselves here if they want to. The Irish guy is a planner, but in the UK. He came due to his own interest, not as a paid official.

Alex said...

Thanks for your answer, that's all I wanted to know. That's obviously disappointing :)

Frits B said...

@anonymous 24/5 21:55
Mark Wagenbuur has a video on the Benelux-tunnel (not the old Maastunnel) here:
and the same passage can be seen here through Australian eyes: