Thursday 21 July 2011

Just some people cycling in Den Bosch

While I am enjoying my holidays: here's something I prepared earlier.

The setting: a sunny Saturday afternoon in June, about 3 in the afternoon, an arterial route from the centre of the city of 's-Her-togenbosch to its suburbs. There are people passing in cars, on foot and on many bicycles.

What you can see in the video is an ordinary street in the Netherlands with ordinary cycling facilities and a normal amount and type of traffic. There is motorized traffic, cars and buses, some mopeds and a lot of cyclists and some pedestrians. Each type of traffic with its own part of the street. The central two lanes are for motorised traffic, there are wide one way cycle paths on both sides shielded from that motorised traffic by a meter (3ft) wide strip of grass and there are sidewalks on both far sides. This type of arterial streets is inviting to cyclists and this is the type of infrastructure that makes cycling very convenient and easy.

This six minute view in this street shows you not only that there are a lot of cyclists but also that they are very different. They are of all ages, cycle on a whole range of bicycle types and from what they have with them you can tell they cycle for a variety of reasons. We see a person carring a large musical instrument, people carrying groceries and there are people wearing sports outfits. You could also say they're all simply going from A to B. This is the face of mass cycling: relaxed and easy.

If you are interested to see the exact location in Google street view you can click the link below.

This street in Google StreetView


Frits B said...

"here's something I prepared earlier."
Blue Peter adept?

Dennis Hindman said...

This video brings into sharp focus that by separating the pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists, you avoid much of the potential conflicts caused by the speed differences between these different modes of travel.

Here in Los Angeles, our city council just passed a law that would prohibit the harassment of bicyclists, which is the first city in the U.S. to do this. I couldn't help but think that this is only a minor improvement as most bicyclist will still have to travel on roads with a high volume of motorized traffic and the speed difference will inherently cause discomfort for the cyclist, as it does for the pedestrians when cyclists legally ride on the sidewalks here.

With the city council approval of a new bike plan this March, Los Angeles is attempting to put in about 40 miles of new bike lanes per year on major arterials streets. That compares to an average of about 5-6 miles per year of any kind of bike infrastructure in the last ten years.

For a city of 6,500 miles of road, and only 300 miles of existing bike infrastructure, it's going to take decades to complete the planned 1,600 miles of bike infrastructure for the city. There are a few miles of comfortable bike paths next to the L.A. river and a few mass transit lines however. A few miles of what is called pilot project protected bike lanes are also going to be installed

It's a wonder how many people here believe that it's alright to put paint stripes, or sharrows, on major streets for cyclists and yet have sidewalks to protect the pedestrians. How is the cyclist any less vunerable than a pedestrian and how many people will feel comfortable enough to ride next to high speed traffic? I believe that this will limit modal share to about what Portland Oregon has been able to achieve.

I would love to get some changes to the rules that are in the Federal Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), which is used as the guidance for traffic engineers in Los Angeles. Two of your videos highlighted a major problem of having the bike lane move to the left of a right turn only lane. Unfortunately, those that decide on any changes require that there be experiments, research or studies that back up any proposed changes. I have yet to find any studies written in the english language that shows the safety improvements by keeping the bike lane to the right of motorized traffic. I do know that there are studies being conducted at the University of British Colbumbia of best practices in bike infrastructure, but at this point they indicate that much of the research that they have come across is full of conflicting conclusions.

It's frustrating going to meetings with the traffic engineers in L.A. and seeing the proposed plans for some of these upcoming bike lanes that move the cyclist across one or two lanes of fast moving traffic in order to accomodate right turn only lanes for motorized vehicles. Yet, they are simply following the guidance of the MUTCD, which does not take into account the difficulty that this manuever places upon even the most experienced cyclist.