|The stencils show how to get|
to the centre and the Zernike
campus using an existing but
less busy route
My daughter explained to us what was going on. Alternative routes were being suggested to students at the Zernike campus on the North of Groningen to reduce strain on the existing route.
Cycling in Groningen continues to grow. Three years ago it was known that over 14000 cyclists per day were using Zonnelaan and I featured a bicycle counter on Zonnelaan in a blog post two years ago.
|Marketing to students:|
Did you stay up too late last night ?
Stayed in bed too long ?
Too long in front of the mirror ?
Good reasons to try the new routes.
The Zonnelaan cycle-path could be widened and upgraded, but it would still pass through several sets of traffic lights at which there are delays. In any case, high numbers of people on one route are not really a measure of success.
Cities in the Netherlands have an extensive grid of bicycle routes. This should avoid a funneling effect due to everyone taking the same route. Other viable routes to the Zernike campus already existed and it was decided to inform students about them.
There are many possible alternative routes, but the council picked options which don't have traffic lights on them. These routes are advertised as the "smart route" to take. If students follow these routes then the can make their way through the city with no traffic lights at all because the recommended routes are almost completely unravelled from the motor vehicle routes.
"Je bent op tijd als je de slimme route rijdt"
"You're on time if you take the smart route"
What do the new routes look like?
The route between my daughter's accommodation and the city centre was already of very high quality. Nothing has changed apart from adding stenciled guidance and signs to help students at Zernike to find the route.
|The alternative routes are of high quality and were already quite well used. This is a very good direct cycle-route with few reasons for cyclists ever to have to slow down or stop.|
Not everyone is happy about this
There are sometimes unexpected consequences of trying to solve problems like this. Quite apart from my daughter's fear that her route would become too busy, it turns out that local businesses don't like cyclists being redirected away from them:
The first person interviewed says that when he started his business 25 years ago research showed that 10000 cyclists per day were using the Zonnelaan route. That's why they located there. The number of cyclists past his door has more than doubled since they started the business. Like other business owners on the route, he's disappointed that the local government is redirecting passing traffic away from his door as this could result in less business. The local government has organised a meeting to try to address these concerns.
In the Netherlands, shopkeepers like cyclists.
Three people from a courier business in Groningen tried out the new routes to see which was really fastest. First and second place in their race were taken by the cyclists who took the new routes:
The stencilled markings on the cycle-paths may look to American eyes rather like "sharrows". However this is a cycle-path, not a road. "Sharrows" are not real cycling infrastructure and they do not exist in the Netherlands. Thankfully. It's important that the good examples are used for inspiration not the bad.