Monday 7 May 2012

Preserving cycle routes despite road works (Road Works vs. the Dutch Cyclist part 2)

It's nearly two years since my last roundup of videos showing how road works don't inhibit cycling in the Netherlands, and here are two more videos showing different examples of the same thing.

The principle remains the same: It is extremely important that cycle routes not only are kept open, but also retain a high degree of subjective safety, when there are road works. If this is not done then there is a good chance that people will be put off cycling, and if they are put off then they may never return to cycling.

The first example is from here in Assen. This is a secondary route into the city centre, on the other side of the canal from the primary route (a bicycle road which we've covered several times before). Even though this is a secondary route, and the detour to the primary route is short, this route has also been kept open for cyclists for the duration of the works, at the expense of drivers:

We saw the second example on our holiday last week. This is not in Assen, but in Apeldoorn, a town about 120 km south of here. In this case, a large junction was being reconstructed and the road surface had been completely removed. Drivers travelling in this direction have a long detour while the works take place. However, while there is necessarily a slight detour for cyclists due to the works, it's been kept to the shortest distance possible while preserving safe crossing points away from the works themselves. The reconstruction will include improvements to the cycling infrastructure, but for now it is necessary to cross the road and ride on temporary surfaces:

Cycling is inherently quite fragile. If it seems unsafe then people are less likely to take part.

If routes to school don't seem safe then parents won't let their children cycle to school (something which almost all Dutch children do). If older people are expected to develop extra strength to deal with riding in unpleasant conditions, then they also would be scared away.

This is why it is necessary to go to some lengths to keep cycling as an attractive and preferable alternative to driving or taking public transport even when works are necessary on cycle-paths or roads.

Only if cycling retains attractiveness and convenience for all can everyone continue to cycle. It is necessary for cycling to have this wide appeal in order to have a modal share which is greater than anywhere else in the world.

Countries with an ambition to grow their cycling modal share need to understand the importance of this. Cycling infrastructure needs to be seamless and simple to use for all ages and abilities, and cycling needs to be supported everywhere, not just where it is easy to do so. Only that way does cycling become a choice for the majority. Unless this is the case, cycling remains a minority pursuit.

See also see the previous installment of Road Works vs. the Dutch Cyclist, which included four other videos like these.

The second video in this post shows a small part of a 130 km journey home that we made together by bike last Sunday. As is usual when cycling in the Netherlands, this distance was covered mostly on cycle-paths but also on some stretches of roads with little traffic. Apart from cobbled surfaces through a few villages, leading in one case to another redirection. Not once on our journey did we experience off-putting conditions for cycling, and nor did we expect to find such conditions. Comprehensive infrastructure works not only for short journeys, but also for longer journeys.


Michael S said...

Brilliant statement.

Mark S said...

Superb piece. Left a comment on YT for the second clip as I found it such a great example of what can happen when cycling is seen as a serious mode of transport!

I recently put up some footage on my YT channel showing one of our Cycle"super"highways that is undergoing some works. The already narrow lanes are made even smaller with a helpful sign to remind drivers at the start "Narrow lanes do not overtake cyclists" It also shows quite nicely how within 2 years the cycle lane itself is already coming apart and in some sections has left large potholes (although these have now been partially filled, presumably with the leftover road filler from the main works....)

Vicki said...

This post highlights such an important aspect of cycling. Here in Australia, when the cycleways are being worked on, they are closed for far too long, often much longer than the signs redirecting traffic say they will be closed. One was closed last year in my city for about 5 months and the signage said it would be for 3 months, which is far too long anyway, let alone 5 months.

Billy said...

Every documentary about cycling in the Netherlands just really drives home to what degree I am a second-class citizen cycling anywhere in the USA.

Anonymous said...

This is how it's done in Hampshire, UK:

Cyclists end up in the mud.