|Chatting in safety on "just average"|
Dutch cycle-path. 4 m wide and widely
separated from the road. Excellent
junction designs along here.
|Riding to school. No hands required on|
the sort of mundane infrastructure you
can expect to see everywhere. 3.5 m
wide and widely separated from the
road with good junction designs
|Boringly average infrastructure. Four|
metres wide, great junction design and
kept clear of ice in winter.
Similarly, some places make quite a lot of noise about having a few good cycle paths, or a network which covers part of a city. Nice photos can be taken on those cycle paths and they seem good so long as we gloss over the problems which occur at junctions and that they don't take people to all their destinations. Giving too much credit to a place which has an inadequate network also misses the point. A proper finely spaced grid of high quality routes which cover everyone's journeys is a prerequisite for a high cycling modal share. Exceptional pieces of infrastructure spread spread thinly across the country are only useful to a minority for some of their journeys and if the "good" cycle-paths are exceptional enough to be noteworthy, they're in the same category.
|Not a "superhighway", just a cycle-path|
3.5 metres wide providing a direct route
between city centre and suburb. It is
very important that cyclists get to use
direct routes. Good quality is far more
important than a flashy name.
How much extremely good infrastructure do you need ? That depends on how much cycling you want to see. It should be no surprise that expenditure on cycling is proportional to modal share.
The truly exceptional thing about Dutch cycling infrastructure is that in this country, "mundane" infrastructure is of extremely high quality, is excellently maintained and is absolutely ubiquitous. This mundane infrastructure in the Netherlands is what makes the high modal share possible because it keeps cyclists away from cars and trucks for all of every journey. This very high quality infrastructure is available to everyone so that they can make a large proportion of their journeys by bicycle without any nasty surprises, ever. This extremely high quality grid of cycling routes is kept open even during road works or when there has been snow. Anyone who wants to cycle is enabled to do so as much as they wish to. This maximises the modal share for cycling, whatever the demographic mix of any particular area. Old, young, rich, poor, locally born people and immigrants all cycle in the Netherlands.
|High quality routes can also be roads|
if cars are removed from them by
unravelling motor and bicycle routes
|One of thousands of small bridges|
for cyclists doing what it needs to do
So what is this "grid", then ?
It's simple in concept. Within a few pedal strokes of home, everyone needs to be able to reach infrastructure on which they not only will be safe but on which they will feel safe. It must take the cyclist to every destination in a convenient manner and it must be contiguous. No stops and starts, no need to "take the lane" to cross large junctions.
Main cycle-routes should be separated from each other by no more than 500 metres. Secondary routes fill in between to get the spacing down to about 250 m and neighbourhood routes fill in the gaps where needed.
|Conceptual version of "the grid". Cover|
your whole country like this.
Red = main cycle routes 500 m apart,
green = secondary, blue = local links.
However, the everyday experience is as if it were such a strict grid. For instance, from our home we have less than 200 metres to cycle in a quiet culdesac (30 km/h limit) to reach either of two high quality four metre wide cycle-paths which take us to every possible destination by bike. See the actual map of primary and secondary cycle-routes in Assen in a previous post about "the grid".