Before and After – ’s-Hertogenbosch (3)

A before and after in Maerlantstraat in ‘s-Hertogenbosch (a.k.a. Den Bosch) in the Netherlands. A main cycle route that went through an “ordinary residential street”. For motorised traffic the street is not a through street and it therefore had “standard junctions”. This means that all vehicles (including cyclists) coming from the right have priority. It was already a 30km/h zone and the road surface of bricks was suitable for such a street.

Now the street was transformed to be more clearly a main cycle route. That means the road surface is now smooth red asphalt and the road has gotten priority over side streets on every junction. That it is a cycle street should be clear from the red surface. That smooth red asphalt is also more convenient to ride on with a bicycle. Cars are guests in this street which means they cannot overtake cyclists and should generally give more room to cyclists.

The transformation of this street already took place in the second half of 2011. Around the same time ‘s-Hertogenbosch became Fietsstad 2011 (Cycling city 2011). That title didn’t change anything to the activities of the city. There are still a lot of projects going on that have to do with improving the traffic situations in the city. The city took the opportunity to coordinate maintenance works on sewerage and other underground networks with the gas supplier and the electricity network company. As is usual in the Netherlands.

While the street was dug up for the new surface the city changed all sewer pipes too.

Early 2012 some reports appeared in the press that residents in this changed streets saw some behaviour of drivers that was not in line with the fact that this now is a ‘Fietsstraat’ (Cycle street). Drivers were speeding and not giving cyclists enough room. So the residents made extra signs telling drivers just in what kind of street they were driving. As one resident said: “apparently it isn’t clear to all road users that red asphalt means they are driving in a cycle street with a maximum speed of 30k/h” (18mph). The home made signs have disappeared again. Drivers mostly need some time to adjust to a new situation, but after a while things settle.

Left and inset: the sign by the city informing road users they are entering a street with a ‘changed situation – cycle street’.
Right: the extra sign residents put up. It says: “30 for you too”.

The first two ‘before and afters’ in ‘s-Hertogenbosch can be found here and here.

9 thoughts on “Before and After – ’s-Hertogenbosch (3)

  1. The video with the camera is a very excellent showcasing of what traffic in Amsterdam is really like. It would be a great tool to dispel all the misconceptions I’ve read from tourists in that city, who seem to think it’s completely chaotic and cyclists are breaking the rules at every turn. For one thing, if they are from north America, they are probably confusing all the give-ways you see (shark teeth) as mandatory stops because the former is very rare here. If the US traffic system was imported to Amsterdam, I can guarantee that almost every one (if not all) of those yields would become stop signs, and a lot of the junctions with those only on 2 sides would become 4-way stops. We had a Dutch intern with us last year and she would be hesitant to go every time we approached a 4-way stop, thinking we may have to give way.

  2. Frits: Brilliant find! It gives a much better view of Dutch road design. Stopping that video at road crossings makes clear how intersections are designed. You can also see much better what the place of the bike is and what it means for drivers to get across an old inner city. I’m curious to know how foreigners would react to this video… 😉

  3. The after is, of course, splendid, but I would be thrilled with the before. Coordination with services?!?! What a concept, would that it were practiced here.

  4. On visiting this page, following a link from David Hembrow’s blog btw, I found a Google message on top of the page that it contained unsafe content. I can see why: once people in other countries see this, they want it too. Must make them rebellious, or hopeless, or desperate. I noticed a lot of comments contain sighs of exasperation at their own surroundings…

  5. When you say vehicles coming from the right have priority, does that include T intersections?

    Here in Canada, I’m under the impression that at an unmarked T intersection, it is traffic going straight which has priority, even if there is a junction to the right.

    1. That is indeed a difference between North-America and (continental) Europe. Here it is the traffic coming from the right, regardless of the type of junction, that has the right of way. So also if you go straight on on a T-junction and the connecting road is coming from the right, then you have to give priority. Unless of course, there are signs and the priority is arranged in another way. (Which is often the case when the straight going street on the T-junction is larger than the connecting road.)

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