Saturday, 29 August 2015

Deventer: An efficient route for cycling in a city which has much to offer.

A few days ago, Ranty Highwayman wrote about visiting Deventer. He covered the central streets quite well, but unfortunately, the central streets are not where you find the best developed cycling infrastructure in that city. Therefore, I've brought forward a long overdue blog post about Deventer, including a long video which I shot back in April 2014 just after a new cycle route had opened.

Efficient cycling infrastructure isn't limited to one corner of the Netherlands. Actually, there are great examples of infrastructure across the country. We run our study tours here in Assen and sometimes look very closely at particular aspects of the infrastructure in this city. Assen is better than average even for a Dutch city, but there are quite a lot of places which have better than average infrastructure and had we settled elsewhere in the country we'd have taken a closer look at what was on offer there instead.

A ten minute long video (sorry!). This shows most of a very high quality newly reconstructed route for cyclistswhich runs all the way from suburbs and villages to the east of Deventer right to the centre of the city. This is very good infrastructure even by Dutch standards.

A friend of mine (who does something entirely different on youtube) lives near Deventer so Judy and I have visited that city several times. I've cycled every cm of several possible routes along the 100 km which stretch between Assen and Deventer and occasionally written a little about the city on this blog or elsewhere. Deventer's a very pleasant city to visit. The ancient central streets are popular with shoppers and also a pleasure to cycle in. When people have asked me about other places which have good cycling infrastructure, I've sometimes suggested Deventer as another of those relatively unknown places in the Netherlands which is better than average.

Between villages and suburbs to the east of Deventer and the centre of the city, there's this cycle-path (featured in the video above)

Another day, another view. This is top quality infrastructure for efficient cycling. Efficiency is essential to make cycling attractive even for longer journeys. It's only by addressing all journey lengths and all journey types that mass cycling becomes possible.

Deventer also has other good examples of infrastructure in its suburbs such as this bicycle road.

Another view of the same bicycle road. The through route for bikes has priority over the minor route for motor vehicles.

Just as in other Dutch cities, through traffic has been diverted around the city centre in Deventer. The old central streets now carry a great deal fewer motor vehicles than they once did. When routes have been unravelled and motor traffic removed, city centre streets don't require obvious cycling infrastructure. The old streets in the centre of the city don't look the same now as they used to at the height of car oriented thinking back in the 1960s and 70s.

Free of charge guarded cycle parking, surrounded by historic buildings in Deventer

Cafe "culture" appears when cars are removed from cities.

Occasion delivery vehicles, but otherwise the central streets are for cyclists and pedestrians.

The centre streets of Deventer are used only by cyclist and pedestrians, except for service vehicles and those which set up and remove stalls on market days. Note how quiet these streets are: while tidying up, this driver can pull four trailers at once without causing any problem for anyone. Ranty Highwayman's blog post, linked above, shows many of the central streets.

I've cycled between Assen and Deventer on many occasions. In this case, catching up with racing cyclists who are as is entirely usual in the Netherlands, using the same high quality cycle-paths as everyone else.

Here entering a village with a low speed limit on a quiet country road. Country roads in the Netherlands have traffic unravelled from them in just the same way as do city centre streets. My route sometimes includes the town of Raalte, a town where cycling success was achieved for just the same reasons as elsewhere in the Netherlands, though a mistranslated article suggested otherwise.
Nowhere is perfect
Just because something exists in the Netherlands, that doesn't imply that it's good. Just as with other Dutch cities, not everything is perfect in Deventer.

Like other places, Deventer has a mixture of newer and older infrastructure. In particular much of cycling infrastructure near the city centre appears to be quite dated. Some things have been done better than others and in some places mistakes have been made. For instance, Deventer has at least one safe Simultaneous Green junction which has a perfect safety record for cyclists, but the adopted a less safe roundabout design resulting in a roundabout being the most dangerous junction for cyclists in the city. More worrying, recent removal of separate cycling and walking provision within an industrial area mirrors a change in Hoogeveen which had awful consequences.

Because I don't spend much time in Deventer, I don't know the details of what is happening there so it wouldn't be wise for me to organise study tours in that city.

Study Tours
While there are good examples across the Netherlands, on our study tours we take a very close look at the two cities of Assen and Groningen. These are cities in which we spend a lot of time and which we know well. We don't travel from place to place on these tours as that would mean giving a helicopter view of highlights which would be misleading. Instead, by looking more closely at a small area we can present a balanced and representative view of the whole, including examples of what works and what should not be copied. To find out more about Dutch cycling infrastructure, book a tour.


Bob Gordon said...

Making an older city bicycle friendly is a good idea. Boulder Colorado is working to make a modern community bike friendly. We are having some successes and some discussions. An example of the latter, the "right sizing" project on Folsom Street. This thorough fare went from two lanes in each direction to one plus a dedicated turning lane and big bike lanes. The unsurprising result is immediate traffic congestion.

More over, businesses are irate their clients cannot get to their shops. There is a lot of honking. On the other hand, there is a big highway project between Boulder and Denver. At a cost of $38 million US, a bicycle lane is being installed along the length of Hwy 36. I'm not certain anyone would cycle the entire length for work, but I do think the lane will get usage between neighboring cities. I've checked out a little biking around on my Trek 850.

CV said...

That Bicycle road is a pest for cyclist. The asphalt in the middle stays put, the small stones on the side will get a small height difference with the middle lane. Cardrivers frequently push cyclist to the side, onto the stones. The city I live has a few of these, and almost every time I ride there, some car tries to push me to the side in order to pass. I avoid roads like these like the plague now and instead opt to take a street earlier or later that's free of this supposed 'cyclist friendly' nonsense.

The 'cyclist road' does work when the place of stones and asphalt is reversed; the asphalt for the cyclist on the sides, and the stones in the middle. In fact, I drive on a street like that everyday, and there I've never been pushed. Cars can pass without pushing anyone onto a B-grade surface.

David Hembrow said...

CV: Thanks for your comment. I did wonder if this would happen. I've had the same experience on bicycle roads which have too much (i.e. more than a trivial amount for local access only) motor traffic and with the rough parts of the road on the outside. The longest stretch of bicycle road here in Assen has the rough part in the middle and works quite well as a result. Overtaking on that is a little uncomfortable for drivers so the layout achieves its aim. That stretch is a little too long, though, and the result is that some drivers can reach excessive speeds. While bicycle roads can work well in some circumstances (in my view the Assen one is good enough, though not perfect), there is no substitute for segregation of modes. It's only by removal of motor vehicles that bullying by drivers is also completely removed.

CV said...

Yes, but in some streets with low traffic it's simply impossible. Making it into a 'bicycle road' is just a lame excuse to not put asphalt on the entire width of the road.

The one with the bricks in the middle (where I don't get pushed) does have a nasty property though. The clinckers get iced much earlier than the asphalt. With the least bit of ground freezing, their tops ice up. If you cross the clinckers in order to take over a group of cyclists, the chance the tires slip is huge.

In a car one doesn't really experience any discomfort from the clinckers, so what would make these types of roads supposedly an advantage for cyclists is a puzzle to me. Asphalt on the entire width only seems to be a bonus for cyclists. The one exception being that other cyclists tend to stay on the asphalt, and the rough middle provides a free lane for overtaking them.

Besides that I think all-asphalt is cheaper than a rough middle anyway?