Saturday 8 November 2008

Not stopping at red traffic lights

Here's a great example of where Dutch cyclists don't have to stop at red traffic lights.

The first photo shows a road junction between our home and the city centre from as close as I usually get to it.

Instead of stopping at these red traffic lights, cyclists have a cycle path which goes through an underpass, making cycle journeys quicker as well as more pleasant than they would be by stopping at the lights.

The cycle path is four metres wide and there is a separate pavement for pedestrians just over 2 metres wide.

The second photo shows what the road looks like. There are five lanes in one direction and two in the other at this junction. Not really a very pleasant place to cycle... but you never have to cycle here so it doesn't matter. Also note the noise barriers which, combined with the 70 km/h speed limit and quiet road surface, keep noise levels to a whisper for those who live near the road. This is also a bus-stop. The bus stop is built into the noise barrier and provides somewhere dry to wait for a bus.

Here's a video showing riding through the tunnel, how you get from the bus stop in the second photo to the cycle parking for the bus stop on the other side, and the cycle path which parallels the main road:

Explanatory captions on this video are visible only if you view it on a computer and not on a mobile device

This is the road which we avoided having to cross by using the tunnel:

Grotere kaart weergeven

There are many examples of where Dutch cyclists get to dodge traffic lights.

My bike is the one in the cycle parking which has lots of plastic bottles in the rear basket, left over from the kid's halloween party. They're there because there is a deposit on them and I'm on the way to the supermarket to return them for the deposit.


Anonymous said...

This is superb - routes designed for cars tend to be fairly direct, and having five-star bike facilities running parallel but avoiding all the pitfalls of traffic control is just brilliant.

I rode into the centre of Newcastle yesterday along the Coast Road. This is a motorway in all but name that runs straight as an arrow from Newcastle to the coast (I guess the clue's in the name). There's a cycle / foot path running parallel to it, and I used that for most of the trip - up to the point that the traffic was stationary, queuing to get into Newcastle. The surface of the path is off-road rough, it's only about 1.5m narrow, there are no noise screens, and you have to cross numerous on/off ramps, where the cars have priority & a lot of speed. I need to post a video to show the true awfulness of it.

That said, there are still fewer stoppages than using regular roads, and it is a dead straight line. So it's still pretty quick. Despite the Coast Road's 70mph speed limit for cars, it takes me ~30 minutes to get to the centre of Newcastle in the morning rush hour if I drive. Yesterday's journey was 35 minutes, including locking up time, and I wasn't hammering it.

I can only imagine what a wonderful route this would be if North Tyneside Council & Newcastle City Council had the vision / balls to Predict and Provide (pdf doc) for cyclists along this route to anything like the extent in Assen.

carltonreid said...

That path is so awful I always use the Coast Road. It's an incredibly dangerous road, but fast too.

On my road bike I can make it across all of the off-ramps.

However, never in a million years would I ever encourage anybody else to go on this road.

Get the local council to build me a Coast Bikepath, but make it an expresswa so I can go really fast.

Sorry, David, I know speed isn't very Dutch...

David Hembrow said...

Carlton, you've got that wrong. Speed IS very Dutch.

Who'd bother with cycling if it took forever to get anywhere ?

Besides, what do you think the tunnel is for, if not for making journeys quicker than without it ?

MattP said...

There is one of these tunnels in Ipswich, under a roundabout, built about five years ago. I was stunned. But as you may guess, a few 100 metres either way of the tunnel and it's back to white painted lanes 0.25m wide with Cyclists Dismount at every junction.

But for a short distance, Ipswich cyclists can experience continental cycling.

Still, far more progressive on cycle infrastructure than Cambridge...

Unknown said...

Just like a dream.
I really envy dutch people for being able to live their wealth wisely, and not confusing utilities with goals.
I've been there for about 3 months in my life (in multiple segments), but it's never enough.