All about cycling in the Netherlands
The red of the cycle paths and lanes in the Netherlands is really standing out. It makes clear where the realm of the motorists stops and that of cyclists starts. Some people think the red is paint but that is not the case. It is actually a thick layer of very smooth red asphalt. The video below shows how a Dutch street with separate red cycle lanes is created. Four rolling machines were needed for this street. Two roll out the red asphalt for the red cycle lanes and two the black asphalt for the lanes for motorized traffic.
The road was resurfaced because it wasn’t up to the very high Dutch standards anymore. Workers spent about two weeks scraping off the old top layer and then in one weekend the four machines rolled out the new top layer in a single sweep. According to the local newspaper about 700 metric tonnes of asphalt for the 1 kilometre long street.
The road is now very smooth again and the cycle paths are very clearly marked with a un-interrupted white lane (which means motorized traffic may never enter the cycle lanes, so there is “no stopping at any time”).
It may be interesting to know that this whole resurfacing exercise is only a temporary measure as the road is expected to be changed into a 30kph (18mph) zone within the next 5 to 10 years. The surface and width of a 50kph (31mph) road that it is now will not be suitable when that happens. A 30kph zone should have traffic calming measures like raised junctions and lanes for motorised traffic that are a lot narrower.
Cycle paths or lanes are not always red. There is no law regulating the colour of cycling infrastructure. It is for every municipality to decide. The city of ‘s-Hertogenbosch decided as follows:
So that leads to the conclusion that the red is there for more than one reason. To make clear to cyclists where the main routes are and to other road users where they may encounter cyclists.
This post, written by me, was originally published on “A view from the cycle path” on Thursday, 2 June 2011.
The original 5 comments:
ibikelondon said… Mark, that’s some beautiful asphalt they are laying right there! I only wish our roads were nearly as smooth and well built. Out of interest, here in the UK, most Councils don’t have their own road surfacing teams but tender the work out to outside contractors who tend to cut corners and try to do a fast job for as little as possible. Is it also the case in the Netherlands? Also, who has control of this road, is it the local Council, the City or a national roads agency? I only ask because here in London we have an issue whereby roads are ‘owned’ and managed by about 4 different parties, which is why it is often difficult to get cycling infrastructure to run for any length of time as moving from one authorities’ road to another seems to cause a massive amount of paperwork. Great observations as ever, Mark! 2 June 2011 14:49
My Best Friend Jen said… Looks awesome! I can feel the wind in my hair already! 2 June 2011 14:59
Clarence said… expect those vids to get wide play.i could wish the streets in my town could be done so professionally. as well as wish for any bike lanes at all.i’ve been reading your blog for some months now and am very glad that i found it.very well done and very informative.as well as many links to other points of view.given the opportunity, i would be in the netherlands tomorrow. 2 June 2011 14:59
Paul Martin said… Amazing, Mark! Our cycleways are nothing more than paint which doesn’t last very long. It is also an awful bright green colour, even in areas where there is no conflict. One thing that struck me was just how neat & tidy the work is. Here in Brisbane the road resurfacing leaves bitumen & debris all over the footpaths & in the gutters – of course the road is clean. When it comes to metal access covers here they wrap them in a plastic, woven bag and then just put the asphalt over the top, making no effort to tidy it up. Then, when it is cool, they just dig the cover out. The result is an indentation on the road with gaps & holes around these covers. …this is because roadworks here are now done by private contractors. The lowest price wins… and we all lose. 3 June 2011 02:52
Mark Wagenbuur said… @Mark: yes, we have that too. There are municipal, provincial and national roads. That are -I think- planned and maintained by each of those bodies respectively. But this is a simple municipal street so the local council is fully responsible here. I would expect good cooperation between different authorities when provincial or national roads (the latter almost always motorways/freeways) have to be planned and maintained on the territory of different municipalities. We are a nation of consensus. This work was carried out by a contractor. Hired by the council. It is a well-known and large (8000 people in service) contractor that works in the entire country but coincidentally with the main seat in the municipality of ‘s-Hertogenbosch. also @Paul Martin: We have very high standards in this country when it comes to aesthetics and tidiness. (Reason why the ‘before’ situation was not acceptable anymore.) No council would accept a contractor to cut corners or to do their job leaving a mess afterwards. That is just not in our nature. 3 June 2011 12:49