Friday, 25 January 2013
The Third Track
My father used to point out that historical dramas on TV always got one thing wrong. When horses were shown pulling carriages along unfinished roads, there would be just two tracks. That's not how it used to be. In the past, there would be a third track in the middle created by horses' hooves and a track either side created by the wheels of the carriages. If there are just two tracks then that is an indication that only powered vehicles normally use that road.
Here in Assen in the present day we have three tracks on some residential streets which were not 100% cleared of ice this week. Those either side are made by the infrequent motor vehicles, while the most distinct track is that in the middle, made by the many cyclists who use this route.
This shows clearly how streets which people often imagine are "shared" between drivers and cyclists much as they might be "shared" in other countries are often not actually shared equally at all in the Netherlands. Rather, cyclists dominate because segregation of modes can also be achieved without building cycle-paths.