Wednesday 23 September 2009

's Hertogenbosch

I've used a few videos before from Mark Wagenbuur who lives in 's Hertogenbosch ("Den Bosch" for short). This is a Dutch city in the southern province of Brabant. It's another "normal" Dutch town with a normal level of cycling.

First a video of the rush hour. This is the main route between the railway station and residential areas at 5:15 pm on a normal evening:

Of course, no Dutch city is ever completely satisfied with what it has, and Den Bosch is no exception. One recent improvement is this new roundabout with cycle paths which have priority over the roads. It replaced a large traffic light junction which was much less convenient:

In the last few weeks a new underpass has also opened, giving cyclists access across a main road without stopping:

This is all part of a plan to increase the cycling rate of the city. Mark sent further information:

"Maybe I can add even more background information: Den Bosch (capital of Brabant with currently 137.777 inhabitants) has the ambition to increase cycling from 33% to 44% of all trips. It has freed a budget of 3 million Euros per year until 2012 to improve cycle infrastructure (for separate high quality cycle routes, tunnels etc) and then another 1.5 million Euros per year until 2015. A total of 16.5 million Euros! There will also be campaigns to win people's minds for cycling. And the city means business: building is going on all over the city!"

And of course this is the way to do it. Increase the convenience, safety and pleasure of cycling and people cycle more. It's a story which is repeated all across the Netherlands.


JohannSF said...

My god! Where are their helmets? Makes me think we've been drinking the koolade on this issue. Secondly, there's an obvious cultural difference in motorists relationship to cyclists. They stop, they yield, they don't seem to have a divine right to get where they are going as fast as they can. Must be nice.

David Hembrow said...

John: you'll rarely see a helmet on a non-sport cyclist here. People feel safe on their bikes here.

The difference in motorist behaviour is two-fold in those videos. In the area where there are very few cars but many cycles, drivers simply can't drive fast. A Shared Space works OK in such a situation, though it's awful when drivers outnumber cyclists.

On the roundabout video the drivers are simply doing as the law requires. They are yielding at a junction where they do not have priority. The junction design facilitates this by providing a space for a car on both sides of the cycle path, and priority is very clearly marked on the road.

It also helps that everyone is a cyclist here. The Netherlands has the highest rate of cycling in the world. 93% of the Dutch population use a bicycle at least once a week, and 35% of journeys under 7.5 km ( 5 miles) in the entire country are made by bike. That's more than are made as the driver of a car.

Cyclists outnumber drivers in many cities here.

And yes... it is very nice.