Friday 11 September 2009

School cycling route from a village into the city

The village of Vries is about 8 km North of Assen. It is a village of fewer than 5000 people. There is no secondary school in the village so most children of secondary school age in the village cycle each day to Assen to go to school.

The school which is the shortest distance from the centre of Vries is on the Groningerstraat in Assen, around 8.5 km (5.25 miles) South. Not all of the children attend this school, some of the others go a few km further into Assen and some ride in the opposite direction to Groningen, about 18 km North of Vries. Some children sometimes ride a bus, but there is no "school bus". The schools do not have drop off zones for parents to deliver children by car, and arriving at school by car is extremely rare. These children predominantly cycle to school, as is the case all across the Netherlands.

The cycle path provided for this route is of very high quality and encourages cycling. I covered this cycle path before. It also forms part of the route of my commute to Groningen.

Even though in this case the driving route and cycling route are the same, cyclists only go through two sets of traffic lights, while drivers go through four. The difference was explained in a previous post.

If you want to encourage a higher cycling rate where you live, this is the standard of provision to aim for. Not only do children cycle in greater numbers here than elsewhere, but the same is also true of the entire population. The degree of subjective safety on cycle paths like those shown in the video is the reason why cycling here is so appealing.

There are many other school travel stories, and don't miss the video of primary school children riding to school.

Note that the google maps imagery of this route is a bit outdated, but what is on streetview is quite good.


Paul Simms said...

I work in a village 2.5 miles from home, and commute there along an A road. Some vehicles give you room others 'squeeze' past at 60mph despite any oncoming vehicles (trucks included)

The primary school in this village serves the children of my home village. No wonder the cycling rate is ZERO given the apalling road they would have to ride along.

There is ample room for a wide cycle path, but there is nothing. I have a mirror and it is the most used piece of kit on the bike.

People in Holland would shudder at having to cycle on 100kph roads with traffic, in the UK it is a necessity if you're a cycle commuter.

David Hembrow said...

Most people from anywhere shudder when passed close at 100 kph.

I certainly had my fair share of frightening experiences when I lived and cycled in the UK, and of course this is precisely what stops the majority of British people from cycling.

That's the difference. Here you can always cycle without hassle. It's always enjoyable. It's never scary. It never feels dangerous. That's subjective safety.

dr2chase said...

How old is "secondary" school?

And any hills on that route, or on the primary school routes? Some of us in our town are trying to figure out how to get more people (including kids) on bikes, but it's not clear exactly what it will take, or how much that will cost.

Paul Simms said...

Corporate 'man' has a strong hold over the car-driving Brit, and he won't let go without a struggle.

David Hembrow said...

dr2chase: Secondary school is from age eleven / twelve onwards.

It's not actually completely flat, there's a lock on the canal along there part way, but there are no hills of any significance on this route. However, except in truly extreme places they're never the reason why people don't cycle. The cycling rate of mountainous Switzerland is much higher than that of any English speaking country, and that could never be true if hills were important.

The only thing that has worked anywhere in encouraging mass cycling is good quality cycling infrastructure. Quality of infrastructure is directly proportional to the cycling rate.

As the infrastructure gets better, so the cycling rate increases. We've seen this in this city over the last few years with several large cycling infrastructure projects resulting in a higher cycling rate.

l' homme au velo said...

Paul Simms.Ireland and UK it is much of a muchness very Similar,same attitude on the Road. We have different widths of Cycle Lanes some are decent enough of 5ft or just under 2 metre but a lot of them are only 2ft and there are hardly any dedicated Cycle Lanes in Dublin. Outside Dublin City on the Country Roads you are often Safer on the main Roads Cycling along the hard Shoulder but once you go on to the small Country Lanes you are in Danger of being Mown down by someone travelling at 60mph or 100kph. At Night it is even worse no Lights on Country Roads and Drivers breaking the Speed Limit as there are very few Police around.
There is no provision for Children Cycling safely on the Roads on these Pathetic little Cycle Lanes.

tvcommentaar said...

You sure need to bell sooner so they have time to get out of the way. Great post again David :)

Mike said...

Here in the USA we have some school boards that prohibit children to walk or ride into school!

Very embarrasing.. :-(