Thursday 18 August 2011

But we have driveways

One of the many excuses used by people who oppose protected cycling infrastructure is the 'but we have driveways' excuse. There are people who believe that cycling infrastructure, especially a separate protected cycle path, does not go together well with driveways.

But of course the two can be combined: as long as the design of both the cycle path and the driveways are well done and follow strict rules.
1. Driveways may not interrupt the sidewalk or cycle path.

2. Driveways may not influence the level of the sidewalk or cycle path.

3. Driveways may not have priority over pedestrians or cyclists.
When a drive way does not interrupt the sidewalk or the cycle path, when it does not change the level of either of those and when it is clear it has no priority over pedestrians or cyclists then such a driveway is no problem at all to separated cycling infrastructure.

Driveways that do not interrupt cycle path nor sidewalk, have no influence on the level of either of those and clearly have no priority.
In the following video you can see that well designed driveways and cycling infrastructure can coexist without any problem.

The video was shot in Vught, a small town just south of 's-Hertogenbosch in North-Brabant province. According to Wikipedia it was apparently named 'Best place to live in the Netherlands' by a Dutch magazine. 


Paul Martin said...

Excellent post, Mark. Thank you.

It certainly makes no sense for driveways to have priority over foot- and cycle-paths as the traffic would be so low.

A few bikes briefly stopping a motor vehicle exiting a property is nowhere near as inconvenient as one car stopping a few bicycle riders.

This is the problem with much infrastructure in the anglophonic world - cars have priority in almost every scenario, no matter how light the traffic may be.

Edward said...

Another great video. Thank you for posting.

I note it is quite a short distance from the end of some of the driveways to the edge of the bikepath. Are there ever problems with cars reversing out too far before the driver can see around the fence in front of the house?

It can be a problem over here in Australia for pedestrians when drivers reverse out of driveways too quickly. Some people honk their horn but the most popular solution seems to be to lock children up and not let them play outside.

Martin said...

Good Post Mark,I Guess in Australia and America you wouldn't call these "driveways". You certainly would get this type of infrastructure in residential areas here. Are these 30km/h zones? Many Australian homes are built with two car garages, your lucky to get a 1.2m footpath and many street have no footpaths at all and that's with 50km/h Speed zones.

Mark W. said...

@Martin; this is a main 50km/h road. (StreetView) Through a residential area but we wouldn't call this a residential street. You rarely see 30km/h streets with cycle paths. The minimal speed difference between the modes of transport in such streets do not make that necessary. It is interesting that you didn't recognize this as a main road, but main roads can be one lane in each direction for motorised traffic because 20-30% of our traffic is by bicycle and then you don't need 6 lane roads. Because of this it is often hard to understand each other's frame of reference.

@Edward; I think drivers compensate that risk by driving accross here very very slowly. There would be room enough considering the cyclepath itself is 2 meters wide as well, so even if a car would block half of it and only then stop for a cyclist, there would still be room to pass for that cyclist.

@Paul Martin; yes that is the main difference here: the car is not automatically considered top of the traffic hierarchy. It is just another of the many infrastructure users. (The other -and equally or even considered more important- users being pedestrians, cyclists, public transport vehicles, commercial transport).

Alan who used to live in Delft said...

Hi Mark: Thanks for another good posting. I think you left out the main concern (at least in the US) when considering cycletracks: not cars backing out - which should be going very slow and "know" they need to look but rather cars turning into driveways and small streets who don't see the bicyclists behind the parked cars or mis-judge their speed even when there is not parking between the traffic and cycletrack. While I don't believe this is such a big risk that cycletracks should not be considered, I do agree that it needs to be considered and taken into account.

John in NH said...

Alan, That problem is mostly sorted out by the grade separation. In many older cities the sidewalk does not change for the driveway and the driveway can have a steep slope to meet the sidewalk and parking next to the house or business. It may be an issue to start but remember with good separation for bike/ped they are above any parked cars (unless a very short person) and are visible to folks turning in.

The biggest issue with the driveway bits is for larger developments they are seen like mini roads that cars should be able to enter at a high speed so they stop blocking other cars on the road. The sheer amount of driveways like this, one right after the other is one reason why urban sprawl here is very very unpleasant to walk in.

We can do better though.

John in NH said...

Also, it appears that the cycle path is at a slightly lower elevation than the sidewalk, this will help mitigate a huge bump for car drivers driving into and out of their driveways.

Was the cycle path in some of these sections added after the huge old trees? In many areas a trade off has to be made between trees and sidewalk/cyclepath. Of course the solution is to bring these areas into 20mph zones and negate the need for full infrastructure for cyclists, although ped infrastructure is still needed...

inconvenient_truth said...

Another great vid, Mark.

"On your bike, you hardly notice the driveways". Good, well designed infrastructure leads to users relaxing into their priority status.

Of course, the same is the case the other way round. With car-priority infrastructure, motorists relax into their priority status, and hardly notice the cyclists. They then become policemen and traffic engineers, and declare it a health and safety hazard to give cyclists priority in these situations.

Ahh, dear old dialectics!

Severin said...

A sign I live in Los Angeles, I was impressed by the first picture in this post! (because the driveway was so narrow and the sidewalk was almost the same level as the driveway)

The Dutch have a lot to offer to the rest of the world, I wonder if we will ever follow...

Thanks for dispelling an other myth!

J.. said...

I ran into the same argument on the Recumbentblog some time ago, only in stead of driveways, the term "curb cuts" was used. But it's essentially the same problem. It's here:

Both the article and the comments are worth reading, just to see the kind of attidudes we're going to be up against (from fellow cyclists, no less). And it wasn't just curb cuts/driveways either. I got all the greatest hits levelled against me.

There's also I nice clip there about the American predicament when it comes to road design. I guess this would hold for Australia and the UK too, to a certian extent. I'll repost it here with proper timing:

stefafra said...

Having recently moved to the UK after living for a while in NL, and going back there quite often, I find your blog slightly depressing....
It is a beautiful blog, don't get me wrong, but living in Norfolk I often cycle along roads that look like they would be perfect to have a cycle path, but don't, they have instead a strip of undefined mud/unofficial parking place/dog toilet so called "grass" that never grows..and a wide pavement with humps and bumps from all the driveways, with big "no cycling" warnings all over the place.