Of course, such a reservation needs to be adequate in size. The crossing shown above, in a residential area in Assen by the local shops, allows two cyclists travelling in each direction to pass each other, and is long enough for a bicycle with trailer to stop safely in the middle. it also has a completely separate crossing for pedestrians, and of course both the cycle and pedestrian paths on both sides of the street. The speed limit for cars is 50 km/h (30 mph).
Here is another view of the crossing:
Open in Google Maps - note that cyclists don't suffer from a "pinch" effect due to cars because there are separate cycle-paths either side of the crossing.
|When we first moved to Assen, there|
was no central reservation at this
crossing. Image from a leaflet
explaining the change
However, that this is very common doesn't imply that such crossings have existed forever. Actually, this one was retrofitted quite recently.
|Back of the same leaflet|
explaining what was
being done to improve
aimed at school children
The requirement that motorists have to swerve could be dangerous to cyclists due to a pinching effect if cyclists were on the street but because there are parallel cycle-paths on both sides of the street there is no danger at all.
See also videos showing the same crossing in use by hundreds of school children.
This can be seen as something which is easily "lost in translation" when implemented elsewhere because while the same concept might appear elsewhere, the implementation is completely different. For example, here's the same concept as implemented in Cambridge, UK:
This reservation is much too small. Only one cyclist can use it at a time because the path on it is too narrow, and it doesn't provide nearly enough space for towing a trailer. It also doesn't feel safe because there is not much separation from high speed traffic. While the example in Assen is on a relatively minor street with a slow speed limit, and that is where such a crossing if built to a high enough standard, can work well, this one is on a major arterial road, which is is one of the busiest in Cambridge. The lanes on either side of this central reservation are much too wide, and they are shared with cyclists heading along the road who are provided with the narrowest of on-road cycle-lane.
What's more, the speed limit here is much higher than that of the Assen example, at 40 mph (64 km/h) and this is a major arterial road into Cambridge so there are usually far more cars driving here than you find at the equivalent looking crossing in Assen.
When we crossed at this point with our children it was difficult to accompany them and cross the road safely. What's more, when I pulled a child trailer across this junction it didn't fit, so I had to make the crossing in one step.
It's an example of something extremely inadequate being installed in completely the wrong situation. The closest equivalents we have in Assen would be this or this.
View Larger Map
If your only reference to good infrastructure design comes from books, websites and looking at Google Maps, then it is very easy to misinterpret what is seen on the ground in the Netherlands. This is why it is important that planners from English speaking countries should see for themselves what good infrastructure actually looks like, and see it in the country which has the best standards. Referring only to what is in, for example, the UK can only result in copying from bad examples. It is to try to help to prevent this problem that we organise study tours.
See other examples of ideas "lost in translation", enabling of crossing the road, and perhaps most important, examples of what works in the Netherlands.