All about cycling in the Netherlands

Another cycling infrastructure update

This is another before and after view in ‘s-Hertogenbosch. And it is an interesting street because in the before situation there was no cycling infrastructure at all, which is rare for a more important street in the Netherlands. But also in the after situation the city of ‘s-Hertogenbosch choose to build cycle lanes and not cycle paths. There are far less cycle lanes than cycle paths in the Netherlands but here they were deliberately chosen.

This will have to do with the fact that the number of cars using this street is relatively low. Because although it is a main route for cyclists, it is not a main arterial route for cars. For motorised traffic this is just a ‘neighbourhood connector road’. Meaning it serves as the access road for a particular part of the city but it does not provide a fast through route for cars that need to be in a different part of the city.

The remaining car lanes are narrower than the cycle lanes

The remaining car lanes are narrower than the cycle lanes

What is also interesting to see, is that the minimal width of the cycle paths was maintained even if that meant that the remaining space for the car lanes was too narrow to even fit a car. (As can be seen in the picture above.) This means that motorists will sometimes have to drive over the sides of the cycle lane. But because of the colour they know they are invading the space of cyclists while they are driving at that narrow spot. Most if not all drivers will sub-consiously reduce their speed and look out for cyclists. The red of the cycle lane is not paint, it is a coloured asphalt so it the colour will not wear off. Which is especially important now that cars drive over it in part.

The street (in black with arrow) is just a tiny fragment of the city's main cycling network.

The street (in black with arrow) is just a tiny fragment of the city’s main cycling network.

The city of ‘s-Hertogenbosch is updating its entire cycle network under a 2009 cycling plan. This street is just a tiny fragment of the network.

Google streetView shows the ‘before’ situation.

This post, written by me, was first published on a different platform.

The original comments:

Anonymous said… Cars on cycle lanes when the road narrows? Naughty, naughty! Anyone looking cycling videos from the UK on youtube will find plenty of close passes and cars squeezing through first on the pinch points. When will we see one from this road? 🙂 Joking aside, the cycle lane doesn’t look very dangerous on the video, so I guess it’ll work. 29 July 2011 10:15

David Arditti said… That design looks like a bad precedent to me as well. If the traffic level is so low, why is a pedestrian refuge (which is what it appears to be – have I got this wrong?) necessary anyway? And if the cars are slowed so much for the bend anyway, why do they need the constriction? I think UK traffic engineers might look at this and use it to justify some very bad practices David 29 July 2011 13:16

Mark Wagenbuur said… Regarding the comments of David. Since I still didn’t understood what you saw that I don’t (‘bad design’), I rewatched the video and now I think I understand you focus on the part from about 10 to 30 seconds. What you see there is exceptional design for an exceptional situation. It is the edge of a square with a small number of shops. Because of the shops there is parking at a 90 degree angle (to the left in the video) and cars going in and out of these parking bays need to be able to make that turn, without hindering other traffic too much. That is why the two middle lines are in the street. To give cars room for that action. That area begins and ends with a T-junction and just connecting the lines until these crossings creates room to wait for pedestrians, but I don’t think that was created as a true pedestrian refuge. It just ’emerged’ as an added bonus because of the traffic calming and traffic regulating measure that these lines really are. 30 July 2011 21:06

Wolfgang said… Are cyclists allowed to cycle two aside on the road, as they do in the before part of the video? In Germany that’s almost always forbidden and you would get honked at a lot. Drivers might even completely forget to overtake you facing such an “unbelievable traffic hinderance”. 2 August 2011 03:18

Mark Wagenbuur said… @Wolfgang: Yes, that is the basic rule in the Netherlands: cyclists are always allowed to cycle two abreast. On cycle paths (that is why those are almost always double the width of German paths) and also on the road. There is a small ‘unless’ in the law that says something like ‘unless that is absolutely impossible’ but that is hardly ever the case anymore. The underlying reason for this behaviour and law is that cycling is considered to be a social activity and also parents need to be able to cycle next to their child. This is indeed the main difference between the Netherlands and any other country in the world (including Denmark) where cycling two abreast is almost always forbidden unless marked otherwise. 2 August 2011 09:05

Neil said… Cycling 2 abreast on the road is legal in the UK, AFAIUI. Of course that won’t stop you being shouted at and of course no cycle lane/path is wide enough for that. 2 August 2011 15:56

Colibri said… Speaking of “road improvements”, I’ve stumbled upon the N208 project in Hillegom (from Fietsersbond article mentioning their success at getting asphalt instead of tiles for the cycle path material). The documents are in Dutch but the maps are pretty detailed. For those who are interested, compare the current situation with Google Street View (busy, noisy, community-damaging thoroughfare) with what’s planned: roundabouts with priority for cyclists, proper off-road cycle paths, traffic lanes reduction and so on. And the way they’ve been managing this project also seems interesting : detailed maps, information to the public with a “newspaper”, involvement of the community in meetings, etc. What the Dutch deliver — and how they do it — is pretty impressive from my point of view ! 5 August 2011 16:19

2 comments on “Another cycling infrastructure update

  1. it’s incredible to me that anyone would point to the ‘After’ video as something that somehow represents desirable cycling infrastructure. totally crazy.

    • bicycledutch
      10 June 2012

      Yes as you can read in the other comments this one was very misunderstood. Even though this may look like (bad) English infrastructure it is very different because of the setting in the Netherlands. The amount of motorised traffic, the very low speed of it and how drivers behave around cyclists makes all the difference.

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This entry was posted on 28 July 2011 by in Original posts and tagged , , .


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