Thursday 1 September 2011

Before and After: more improved cycling infrastructure (1)

A number of cities in the Netherlands is currently updating cycling infrastructure. The 'Fietsbalans' (the thorough check of the 'cycling climate' and infrastructure of municipalities by the cyclists' union) may be one reason for this. The Fietsbalans ('Cycling Balance') reports on subjects like the quality of cycling infrastructure (safety, directness, comfort, etc.), the demographics of people cycling (who, when, why, where) and other aspects like population density and how satisfied people are with the cycling policies of a municipality. It also gives municipalities advice on specific subjects scoring low so they can be remedied. Many cities did indeed follow at least some of the advice. Comparing the newest check with the older ones a city can now see whether things have improved and also how they compare with other cities in the Netherlands. If necessary cycling policies can be further improved.

's-Hertogenbosch is one of the cities which has started a city wide update of the cycling infrastructure in 2009 under a six year plan. Almost three years into the plan it is becoming very clear all over the city that the update was not just mere talk and paper plans, no, there really is a great change for the better becoming visible. I already gave you some examples, but I have four more videos with further examples of improved cycling infrastructure. Planners from other countries could learn a lot from the Fietsbalans reports and the improvements to cycling infrastructure that are being made all over the Netherlands. I will show the first two videos this week and the other two in an upcoming blog post.

Stills from the first video: from old fashioned recreational path to wide main cycle route away from motorised traffic.

The first video shows a new main route approaching from the South of the city. Because of a new circular road the canal and the dike next to the canal had to be moved sideways. The city took the opportunity to build a far better cycle route on the new dike than had existed on the old dike 100 meters to the East. This new cycle route forms an alternative to an existing route next to a busy road. It is now a well used route for commuters and school children.

Still from the second video: The cycle path already had priority over cars, but the junction design was updated: no more (dangerous) bollards and an even clearer priority with the also smoother coloured asphalt.

The second video shows a main route from the East of the city. The route was nice already until it hit a service road. The service road is now converted into a cycle street. This means cyclists have priority and cars are guests. The cyclists now also have priority over every side street. In the before situation all the side streets from the right had the right of way:  the ground rule under Dutch traffic law. Two major junctions were converted to be even clearer. But the city seems to have forgotten one traffic light that is very odd. It gives motorised traffic a head start of two seconds which is most unusual and unwanted.

In an upcoming blog post the two other videos.

With all the updates 's-Hertogenbosch was chosen as one of the five nominees running for cycling city 2011 in the Netherlands. I have reported about this before. The final decission will be made in November by an expert jury but there is also a popular vote in which the city is not doing well. 's-Hertogenbosch is now 4th and when you look at the before and after videos you will have to agree that that is clearly undeserved.


Dennis Hindman said...

I was very excited to find out that there will be some Dutch bicycle infrastructure experts coming here to Los Angeles for a ThinkBike workshop on September 22-23, to point out, from a Dutch perspective, how L.A. can increase cycling.

September of last year, Chicago had the privilege of hosting some Dutch experts at one of the first of these ThinkBike workshops. If the final report for L.A. is as insightful and blunt as this report, this could an inspiration on how to create a much greater quality of bicycling infrastucture here.

Chicago has a new mayor who just produced the cities first protected bike lane and wants to put in 25 miles per year, through his four year term. This means that the third largest city and the largest, New York City, will have put in protected bike lanes. The success of this and the ThinkBike workshop will hopefully help point out that the second largest city, Los Angeles, needs to choose protected bike lanes over unprotected.

Severin said...

Lovely post and great to see positive change– even in the Netherlands!

I love the designs of those bicycle streets, I wish America would consider that kind of infrastructure in residential neighborhoods. Bike Boulevards are okay, but Dutch practice is just so much better!

Thanks for keeping us updated and I look forward to seeing the next two videos!

Paul James said...

An English language version of the Fietsbalans is available here

Neil said...

the annotations in the second video appear to be truncated when viewed from the blog. They are OK in full screen (I didn't try direct from youtube).

Anonymous said...

Mark, is there any chance I could get a copy of the "after" photo shown at the start of the video showing the cycle street with the red camper van?

Mark W. said...

@Neil, yes that is a YouTube problem because we use a different size for our blog that sometimes happens and it is very hard to get it right. I did now but it took a lot of time and effort. It is always okay on YouTube, there you can also choose a higher resolution.

@Tom I don't have a picture, it is just a screen print of the stopped video. So you could do the same and stop it where you want it.