|I took this photo in 2006 near Eindhoven|
Bollards converted a country road into
a cycle-only thorough route. Read more
about country roads
|Also from 2006, motor through traffic|
calmed in a village, with bike bypass.
|Already old infrastructure in Assen|
in 2007. Direct by bike, not by car.
|Bollard to prevent drivers from using|
a bicycle underpass in Assen
It is not completely unknown, but it is rare that bollards on cycle-paths in the Netherlands cause cyclists to have to slow down. They are used to keep motor vehicles away, not to make cycling inconvenient. The distance between bollards should never be less than one metre. This is required so that cyclists with disabilities can go everywhere that the able bodied can and it results in tricycles, trailers and bicycles heavily laden with bulging panniers being able to pass easily between barriers.
Good Examples from my extensive collection of bollard photos
|Very narrow street in Zwolle. Perhaps "no room for cycle-paths" elsewhere, but this has been made into a no-go zone for motor vehicles. Black bollards are not ideal.|
|Cars are not to be parked on this grass verge near a school|
|Zwolle cycle-path, motorists kept off by bollard also used to divide the two directions of travel on the cycle-path and show where the junction is (bikes have priority at this crossing).|
|Bridge in suburb of Assen. Bikes have enhanced permeability over cars, making cycling more attractive than driving because routes are shorter / more direct by bike.|
|Industrial area in Assen. A single bollard motorists from using the cycle-path as a short-cut or making a u-turn in this location.|
|1970s residential area in Assen. Bollards used either side of a crossing between cycle-path and road to prevent drivers using the more direct route available by bike.|
|Decades ago this was a quiet road through the countryside. It would now be used by drivers if not for the use of bollards to transform it into a very attractive cycling only route through Assen.|
|To get from there to here in this residential area by car involves a considerable detour. Shorter routes make cycling more attractive, whatever your age.|
|Not actually bollards but a good example from Cambridge. A rat-run was eliminated, transforming residential streets to be relatively quiet for their residents and making a good through route by bike. The city needs more of this. I tried to encourage residents of the road where we lived to ask for the same treatment but they preferred being able to drive in both directions over quiet and safety for their children. The use of planters only really makes sense if they will be maintained properly.|
Many bad examples result from misguided attempts to exclude mopeds from cycle-paths. In these cases the cure is very often worse than the disease. "Invisible" bollards or bollards placed so close together that they impede cycling or hidden around a corner so that they provide an unpleasant surprise for cyclists are also not good infrastructure.
|Almost invisible concrete post in the middle of a cycle-path in Eindhoven, probably totally invisible after dark. I took this photo in 2001 so it is very likely that this has been changed.|
|These bollards in Cambridge prevented motorists from using a useful cut-through accessible by bike, but they were impossible to use with a trailer. The black paint does nothing to make them more visible at night.|
|Bicycle/foot bridge in Cambridge. After picking up speed downhill, these three bollards are clustered around a blind bend. Because this bridge is only slightly over 2 m wide in total, such a dangerous obstruction is not required to prevent motorists from using it. Conflict between cyclists and pedestrians is increased because the straightest line possible for a cyclist riding at speed is to use the pedestrian side of the path. Danger of losing control is increased by the British practice of installing textured paving the wrong way around on the cycling side of the path.|
|The other end of the same bridge has the same problem. Another three closely clustered bollards.|
|Excessive bollards in the middle of the cycle-half of a not very wide, not very long and strangely designed path in Cambridge|
|Cycling England was a government (under)funded organisation which promoted cycling in the UK between 2005 and 2011. I wrote about their unfortunate demise. Sadly, CE set their standards too low and they actually had this on their website as a "good" example of infrastructure. The "good" aspect of it was that the bollards are offset so that cyclists who wriggle can get between the gaps. Slowly. However this is not nearly good enough. There are still far too many bollards across a narrow path. Quite apart from how much inconvenience it causes for someone who simply wants to get somewhere by bike, how well does this work with a trailer, for disabled people etc. ?|
|Local newspaper cutting from Assen.|
Bollards are removed in winter to
allow snow ploughs and gritting
vehicles onto the cycle-path. Drivers
are warned that removal of bollards
doesn't mean they can drive on them.
This type of collision is also over-represented in injuries to older people, which have risen in recent years along with the rise in cycling amongst older people. Older people may not have such good eyesight and may not see the bollards so easily. Another group of cyclists who are injured more frequently than average by bollards are faster cyclists who may simply not have enough reaction time if a bollard is not adequately visible due to vegetation or a blind corner.
Dutch bollards are usually painted with red and white stripes which make them reasonably easy to see in daytime, but the small reflectors often fitted don't help all that much at night time. However they are painted, bollards remain quite small objects and it's impossible to make sure that people will always see them.
For several years now the policy in The Netherlands has been to remove or reduce the number of bollards in order to reduce their potential for injury. Where they are still required, experiments are taking place different types of bollards such as the flexible bollards shown in this video:
Note who is shown using the cycle-path. It is normal for racing cyclists to use cycle-paths in The Netherlands because cycle-paths offer the same advantages of shorter distances and better safety for fast cyclists as they do for slow cyclists. In this case, both racers and retired people on electric bikes are shown using the cycle-path with the new bollards, these being the two groups most affected.
|Painted markings to highlight bollards|
on the cycle-path aren't entirely new.
This photo is from the 2006 Study Tour
Now it's your turn
If you were provided with fifty bollards, how could you use them in your location ? Are there residential streets which could better serve their residents and be better for through cycling if rat-running was stopped ? Do you have minor rural roads which need the same treatment ? Do you have places where motorists park their cars and cause problems ? Any bollards to be used should be placed sparingly as creating obstructions for cyclists is not the aim and keep in mind the Dutch experience of how excess or badly placed bollards can easily result in injury.
Also consider what bollards you would like to remove in your location ? Bear in mind that successful bollard usage requires that they are both visible and easy to pass. If you have clusters as shown in some of the bad examples above then the situation would almost certainly be improved by removing most of them.
Arguments that cycling is "too expensive" to provide for do not really hold water. Cycling budgets are small compared with the budgets for other projects (including other transport projects) in every country, including The Netherlands. However the possibility of improving things for cycling relatively little expense is still attractive. It provides a chance for positive campaigning.
A good first step can be achieved by using bollards and similar techniques to improve permeability for cycling vs. other modes. It is of course also important to see this as a first step. Campaigners must not stop at this point as you will need all the things that work in the Netherlands in order to get everyone to cycle as in The Netherlands. Campaigners and planners who have low aspirations can never achieve great things.
See how the Dutch do it for yourself
Neither this blog nor any other can show you all the details of what makes cycling so commonplace in The Netherlands. This is why we have run Study Tours since 2006. We're still taking bookings for the September 2013 Study Tour. To join us you need to reserve your place as soon as possible.
Kennington People on Bikes wrote about problems due to bollards in London. You still want more ? Try the Bollards of London blog.