All about cycling in the Netherlands
A few weeks ago I showed you the new floating roundabout of Eindhoven and it got a lot of attention. But of course a city’s cycling climate cannot be measured by one –albeit very impressive– piece of infrastructure. There has to be a connecting cycling network for those great infrastructural works to be of any use. Riding in the city gives you some information and it doesn’t seem bad at all right now.
The site of the Eindhoven branch of the Cyclists’ Union has not been updated since early 2011. That is a pity because it could have been a source of information about the real state of the cycling climate in Eindhoven. But on both that site and the site of the city council we do find a cycle plan from December 2008 for the years 2009-2012.
That plan is the “Actieplan Fiets!” (Action plan Cycle!) which has 101 “projects” of improvement ranging from creating cycling infra at missing links to surface updates (for 48 kilometers of cycle tracks), parking improvements and also the signposting of a new touristic cycle route. All of which points would have to be improved from 2009 to 2012 to get people to cycle (even) more.
I would have liked to know if all the points have indeed been tackled, but it is not clear from the internet. Some of the points have obviously been dealt with. To create more cycle parking spaces there are beautiful new underground cycle parking facilities in the city center with very futuristic entrances.
Many cycle paths have smooth asphalt surfaces that look very new. But there are also points of concern. Missing from the plan is the turbo-roundabout at Floraplein that must be the country’s worst roundabout for cyclists (video). A lot of protests and a clear alternative from the Fietsberaad have not led to any actions by the city council, because as the Eindhoven alderman put it: ‘for the low number of accidents the proposed measures are too expensive’.
But it is certainly not all bad in Eindhoven. So why don’t I just show you what it’s like to cycle on a route from that famous new Hovenring all the way to the city center and the Central Railway Station. A 5 kilometer ride normally, but there was some reconstruction going on at one junction. The well sign posted cycle detour added 200 metres to the trip. The video was sped up so you can see the entire ride in 10 minutes.
This leisurely ride took me 19 minutes and you can see that there was not a single interaction with a motorized vehicle in all of that time! Not even in the shared zones. That is not only because this was a Sunday afternoon in Summer, but also because those shared zones are only used by residents. My average speed must have been a little over 16.4 km/h (10.2 mph). Much slower than my normal speed of 20km/h but not at all bad for a leisurely ride. That is mostly because I had to stop only six times even with the high number of traffic lights. The Dutch get a good average speed even when they ride rather slow because they don’t have to stop so much. This results in a better average speed than racing from red light to red light.
You can see the signposted cycle detour (“omleiding”) from the 5:00 to the 6:20 minute mark in the video. For those people who want a better look at all the infrastructure I also uploaded the video in a 19 minute version at normal speed.