Another new bicycle street in Utrecht

Billet en français

Utrecht has built quite a number of bicycle streets recently. Surprising, because Utrecht also built the very first bicycle street of the country, which was a complete disaster. So what does the city do differently now?

Troelstralaan in Utrecht was changed to be a bicycle street. It was a conventional residential street before.

What is the definition of a bicycle street? (“Fietsstraat” in Dutch, or ‘bicycle boulevard’ as they are mostly called in the US.) Nowadays a bicycle street is considered to be a route in a residential area that is a main route for cycling, but only a minor route for motor traffic. It is essential that cycle traffic is the dominating form of traffic and that the route looks clearly designed for cycling. This makes it immediately clear to drivers of a motor vehicle that they are guest in a space that is not theirs. (CROW recommendation in publication 216) Note, that we are talking about a route rather than a street. The Dutch always construct cycle routes, never individual streets, even if they call those routes ‘street’. Parking motor vehicles in a cycle street is also possible. The word cycle street does not imply that there are no cars. There are, parked and moving, but they are the minority form of transport. That the streets are in a residential area automatically means that the speed limit for motor traffic is 30km/h. (With the exception of rural cycle roads where that would be 60km/h.)

The sharks’ teeth make clear that the bicycle street now has priority over the side street. In the before situation all traffic coming from the right had the right of way over traffic coming from the left.
A so-called Fahrradstraße (Bicycle street) in Potsdam (Germany). Legally a mandatory cycleway on which only residents are allowed to drive and park their motor vehicles.

The world’s very first cycle street was constructed in Bremen (Germany) as early as 1980. But cycle streets never really took off in Germany. The German fondness for rules made it very complicated to give cycling priority at junctions. That first street was at the same time made one-way for motor traffic and two-way for cycling. The Bremen example required 193 road signs to accomplish that in a street of just a couple of hundred metres long. The concept of the bicycle street was later incorporated in German road law (in 1997). The picture above shows a service street in Potsdam (near Berlin) that was designed as a bicycle street. Legally it is a mandatory cycleway on which it is allowed for residents to drive with their motor vehicles and where they can also park them. This seems to be a good example, but you don’t see many (good) bicycle streets in Germany. The requirements to be allowed to even construct a bicycle street became so complicated, that many road managers don’t even think of going down that road (no pun intended).

Utrecht opened The Netherlands’ very first ‘Fietsstraat’ or bicycle street in 1996. The sign informs people that It was forbidden for drivers to overtake people cycling. (Picture Utrechts Archief)

The very first bicycle street in The Netherlands wasn’t a success either. And that is putting it very mildly. It seemed such a great idea. One of the main cycle routes to the Utrecht University, Burgemeester Reigerstraat, was completely transformed and re-opened as a bicycle street in November 1996. The street got a median barrier to prevent motor vehicles from overtaking people cycling. That made the experiment a complete disaster. The street design was too far ahead of its time: drivers were not used to such an arrangement and they had no desire to trail behind people cycling. The median barrier made overtaking impossible, even when it was necessary. Bus passengers could sometimes be seen walking down the street instead of waiting 10 or more minutes in their bus, stuck behind a lorry unloading (the street has a lot of shops). To pass a lorry – blocking the full width of the lane – people cycling used the side-walk, or, even more dangerous, the opposite lane! Emergency services also complained and they warned about dangerous situations because they were held up. Impatient car drivers were seen overtaking cyclists with two wheels on the barrier. This scared people cycling onto the narrow side-walk and that in turn frightened pedestrians. A good two years later (in January 1999) a new Utrecht council terminated the experiment. The centre barriers were removed and so were the signs that forbade to overtake people cycling.

The first bicycle street in The Netherlands had a median barrier that made overtaking in a safe way impossible. But drivers still tried to overtake people cycling, causing very dangerous situations. This experiment was short lived, the median barriers were removed and the ban on overtaking was dropped. (Picture Utrechts Archief)

It took 10 years before Utrecht tried again. This time after several other Dutch cities had gone through successful experiments. So what did those cities do differently? That has everything to do with traffic calming. For cycle streets to work, motor vehicles must have a different route than people cycling. In recent years unravelling routes has become more common. When you unravel routes you get exactly what you need: motor traffic is diverted around a residential area, so the original (and usually shorter) route through that residential area is then dominated by people cycling.

In the before situation there were narrow cycle lanes in the door zone. The new situation allows cycling in the full width of the cycle street.
The former door zone cycle lane was just slightly wider than the buffer strip in the new situation is.

The CROW recommendation is very clear. There should at least be double the number of people cycling than there are motor vehicles. So the ratio between cycling and motor traffic should be 1 motor vehicle to 2 people cycling, or preferably 1 motor vehicle to 4 people cycling or even more. The cycle street should also have priority over all side streets. This is not usual in a residential area or 30 km/h (18mph) zone, where normally all traffic from the right has the right of way at junctions. That means the street will have to be clearly marked as a cycle route so everybody will understand that non-standard priority arrangement. To further enhance the comfort for cycling the route should be surfaced in smooth asphalt (not bricks!). And finally, if the route winds through a residential area it should be self-explanatory which turns you have to take. That is why cycle streets are usually in red asphalt, so you can follow that ‘red carpet’ for cycling intuitively.

The parking bays are now separate from the street. In between the parked cars trees were planted.

A bicycle street requires a lot less space than a road with separate cycleways alongside of it. The low volume of motor traffic in such a street also doesn’t really require separate cycleways. The traffic volume on a bicycle street should not exceed 2,000 motor vehicles per day. Due to the requirement of a much higher volume of cycling there should then be at least 4,000 (but preferably up to 8,000 or more) people cycling in such a street.

Also at the larger junctions it is perfectly clear that the cycle street has priority in the new situation.

It is interesting perhaps, that the bicycle street does not have any legal status in the Netherlands. Unlike the Germans, the Dutch like to experiment without being constrained by rules and regulations. They will first try out what works (bending the rules if necessary) and then they might change their laws, but only when that is absolutely necessary and as little as possible. The modern experiments do no longer forbid motor traffic to overtake cyclists (as was the case in the 1996 Utrecht trial) and the priority crossings can be arranged within existing law. This means there is no official sign (needed) to indicate a bicycle street. Every municipality has its own way of indicating a bicycle street, or councils opt for not having a sign at all. ʼs-Hertogenbosch does not put up signs, it feels the street layout should speak for itself. And it does.

Because there is no such thing as a Fietsstraat (Cycle Street) in Dutch law, every municipality makes up its own sign. The blue sign with the red car and the white cyclist and “Auto te gast” (Car is guest) is becoming the standard (as it is in Belgium, but there the sign is in the law). Left to right: Utrecht, Oss, Houten, Hilversum.

One early example of a successful second attempt at a bicycle street in Utrecht is the Van Humboldtstraat. This residential street was made one-way for motor traffic and two-way for cycling. It has a motor traffic volume of 500 vehicles per day and it sees about 3,000 people cycling. A ratio of 1 motor vehicle to every 6 cyclists. This is a perfect ratio to make cycling in the cycle street convenient and subjectively safe.

Van Humboldtstraat in Utrecht is a successful new bicycle street. It sees 500 motor vehicles and 3,000 people cycling per day. It is one-way for motor traffic and two-way for cycling. More recent bicycle streets usually do not have cycle lanes like these.

Another example in Utrecht is considered less successful by some. Prins Hendriklaan is a route that sees about 14,000 people cycling a day, but there are also about 3,000 motor vehicles. Even though that ratio is within the acceptable range, that absolute number of 3,000 motor vehicles is too high. The street therefore doesn’t feel completely (subjectively) safe. Motor traffic should indeed be calmed more than it is now to get those numbers down. (See also the post about that street by Mark Treasure at As Easy As Riding A Bike).

The blue route shows the main route for motor traffic (Talmalaan). It runs parallel to the new bicycle street in red (Troelstralaan). That makes the motor traffic volume in the bicycle street low enough.

Another relatively new bicycle street in Utrecht is the one that features in my video for this week: Troelstralaan, which was finished in 2014. Here the ratio for motor traffic and people cycling is again perfect. That is because motor traffic has a main route parallel to this new bicycle street. So there are really only motor vehicles of the residents in this particular street. The street got a new surface of smooth red asphalt and priority at every junction. So all the requirements are met and that shows.

My video for this week shows the bicycle street in Troelstralaan in Utrecht, before and after the transformation.

59 thoughts on “Another new bicycle street in Utrecht

  1. Not putting up signs telling you what to do is a design principle from Don Norman. Look up Norman doors 🙂

    Good to see Dutch councils know design principles! Amazing sometimes that edumacation matters!

  2. “Bicycle speed streets” somewhat similar to the one in the failed 1996 experiment have been built recently in Göteborg, Sweden. The lanes are narrow to discourage overtaking.

    Car drivers have been respectful and kept their distances most of the times I’ve used them, but today I was tailgated and then overtaken narrowly by a car driver.

    This street is still a through road, which I guess might increase problems with impatient car drivers.

    It is not at least used by buses, unlike the old Utrecht street. Buses use the same parallel lane as trams.

    Here’s a streetview (hopefully):

  3. Thanks again for an informative post but I’m afraid some aspects still aren’t clear to me.

    You say “where normally all traffic from the right has the right of way at junctions”. Do you mean a crossroads type junction? In the UK we have a continuous road in one direction (eg north-south) and the other two arms (eg the east-west road) give way. The road markings make this clear (eg: http://goo.gl/maps/c9VmJ ).

    You seem to suggest that the rules changed to give cycling priority (which you say was difficult in Germany) but surely there are cars too on these cyclestreets which will also have priority – surely the priority relates to the direction of travel, not the mode of transport?

    And then you indicate that the important thing is not the lack of overtaking – I can imagine that failing here too – but the ratio of bikes to cars. It would be nice to understand more about how that can be achieved. Given the lamentably low numbers of cyclists here the number of drivers would need to be made tiny, but that isn’t going to just happen while the route is useful for driving along. What if there is no easy place for a parallel route for motor traffic? What if the parallel route is there, but already congested? Is the cyclestreet closed to motorised through traffic? That seems to be the only way it could work here. Very occasionally this does happen, and the streets do get quieter but cycling doesn’t increase because there’s nowhere to ride safely on the larger roads once you get off the residential bit.

    In your video the road looks pretty quiet “before”, just a bit smarter “after”. I wish I had roads with so little traffic to ride down even without the bicycle street treatment.

    1. We also have you describe (where one street is the continuous road and has priority over the side streets) but that is not the default priority. As you say, that requires signs. In a 30 km/h zone we don’t want signs so that is not how it is done. In such a zone the default priority is in use. That means all four arms of a crossroads are equal and traffic coming from the right has the right of way over traffic coming from the left. This only works in quiet areas because when traffic would arrive from all four arms at the same time you have a problem. To give a cycle route priority over side streets you have to resolve the matter again with signs and then the route becomes the continuous road with priority.

      You already give the answer to your question about the numbers. Cycle streets can only be implemented where cycling already is the dominant form of transport. Cycle streets cannot be used to achieve that. That has to be done by other measures such as unravelling routes and creating areas with filtered permeability. That can cause through motor traffic to only use designated through routes for that motor traffic. These in turn, always have to have separate cycleways because of the high volume of motor vehicles and the higher speeds. So it is always a matter of a mobility vision for a whole section of the city, where streets are categorised and designed according to their categorisation. The Dutch never change individual streets, it is always about routes in a much broader perspective.

      1. Can a fietsstraat be built at the same time as the unraveling and filtered permeability and advertising to motor traffic that this (roughly) parallel arterial is much better for you so you should use it unless you without a shadow of a doubt must be on the fiestsstraat?

    2. Regarding normal priority: In the Netherlands, when a major road crosses a more minor one, the major one has priority, but when two similar minor roads cross, the priority is as Mark describes: Traffic from the right has priority. Here the situation was changed because the bicycle street as such is a through road for bicycles, and thus is ‘higher’ than a road that is not a through road for any type of transportation.

      I do agree with your last point, that the road is quite good before the cycle street treatment. It is the (low) amount of motor traffic that is key, as Mark writes, and the cyclestreet treatment is just the icing on the cake. As to how to achieve this, that depends on the situation. In the Netherlands, it is usual to make minor roads unusable for through traffic, also if they are not bicycle roads. Sometimes that’s done by closing it off (restricted permeability) or by one-way schemes, in other cases it’s just that they are both longer and slower than intended through routes.

    3. We have a similar problem in the U.S., we’ll not be able to come close to those ratios for some time. For us I think the solution is to calm the traffic as much as possible both in speed and volume and make these streets as safe and comfortable as we can for people bicycling. Over time we may be able to attain the ratios.

      One option, getting to the filtered permeability that Mark mentions, is what I’ve called interrupting the grid:


      My goal is to lessen the volume of cars, the number that are using these as through streets or rat runs, the speed, and lower the anxiety level for drivers by shortening the distance they are on such low speed streets (less frustrated drivers will be less likely to tailgate).

    4. Thank you for all the explanation. I guess the closest analogy of the priority-from-the-right I can think of here is a roundabout, where we always give way to the right (although of course we drive on the left just to confuse matters further).

      Also, I can appreciate the subject better as a treatment for environments where cycling is already dominant. Some time before we have to worry about that here!

  4. Dennis makes a point below about creating a bicycle street when it is difficult to get space for cycling on a parallel major road.

    In The Netherlands this would not be unless the major road had no destinations on it, otherwise someone on a bicycle cannot safely get to their destination. The major road will still have a cycletrack or side path. The bicycle street is an alternative and often a more direct or faster route but is not a replacement for safe bicycle facilities along major roads that have destinations that bicycle riders may want to go to.

    1. The other side of that coin is that in the Netherlands having no destinations on a major road is often a design goal. We try to minimize the number of places where drivers can enter or leave a major road, because those are places where there are large speed differences between cars.

  5. Los Angeles will soon start creating bicycle boulevards on residential streets. Much of the streets are built into a grid system with residential streets paralleling the major streets. This creates an opportunity to install features on some of the residential streets that would encourage cycling in areas where getting separate space for cyclists on major streets is very arduous.

    Its extremely difficult to get the necessary space on the major streets in the core of the city for bike lanes. The Los Angeles metropolitan area has the highest population density of anywhere in the U.S. New York City’s metropolitan area has a much higher density in Manhattan, but more lower density in its suburbs compared to the LA metropolitan area. Yet the metropolitan area of LA has the second least amount of motor vehicle lanes of any metropolitan area besides Honolulu. That’s why LA usually comes out towards the top in annual ratings of the most traffic congested cities in the U.S.

    There is not a lot of money to work with for bicycle boulevards, so anything that would involve construction would limit the amount of bicycle boulevards that could be created. Usually when two residential streets cross there are two or four way stop signs. The thinking of how to make these streets more bicycle friendly is to put mini roundabouts where two residential streets meet instead of stop signs. An expensive endeavor. Also, bicycle specific signals where bicyclists must cross busy streets.

    Long Beach, which is the second biggest city in LA county with a population of 469,000, created a bicycle boulevard using bicycle specific traffic signals and mini roundabouts. I don’t see how these mini roundabout treatments are creating a significantly more comfortable place to ride a bicycle since cyclists have to ride in mixed traffic as you can see in this video:

    This other video questions whether the use of these mini roundabouts are more effective than stop signs for safety:

    It sure doesn’t seem like it would feel comfortable to ride a bicycle where the mini roundabouts are.

    So far the only treatment that has been done on residential streets for bicycling in LA is placing sharrows or shared lane markings mainly in the Hollywood area (a higher population density area) that seem to be used as wayfinding signs by bicyclists. These have increased the average amount of bicycling on these streets by 134%. LA is in the process of creating its first 800 wayfinding signs for bicyclists.

    I’m thinking that maybe placing dashed lines where the parking is allowed would visually narrow a residential street enough to reduce the average speed of motorists. Then again, a typical residential street in the Los Angeles area is wide enough for two way motor vehicle traffic. Discouraging cut-through traffic is also needed to keep the volume of traffic low.

    A recent problem that Los Angeles is having on residential streets is a much higher volume of motor vehicles during peak hours because of Google maps and GPS directional guidance. More and more motorists are using residential streets as a way to avoid heavy traffic congestion.

    1. Very familiar topics. A few thoughts…

      – Bicycling facilities need to become part of the overall base budget, not separate. When a street is being built for the first time, re-built or re-paved then safe bicycle facilities should be a standard part of that just as a traffic lane is. The default roadway needs to be two narrow slow traffic lanes and appropriate bikeways on each side and then build up from there.

      – Mini-roundabouts are great for what they are — a more efficient junction than a 4-way or 2-way stop. They are generally not good at slowing traffic and in my experience with ours do not feel at all safe on a bicycle. Perhaps if the entire streets are narrowed and chicaned so that drivers stay below 18 mph then they will work and I have seen some in The Netherlands where this is the case. Otherwise, if any approaching or exiting street allows cars to travel faster then you will have an uncomfortable situation.

      – Through traffic (your GPS example) must be prevented for a bicycle street to work for most people other than confident vehicular cyclists.

    2. The mini roundabout design is likely not good for cyclists, if there are not separate cycle paths around it. The volume is one of the determining factors here. More than 2000 vpd? Not good. More than 30 km/h, or 32 km/h? Also not good. The speeds of motor traffic should probably be kept down further with a larger raised but mountable central island.

  6. In Melbourne, Australia in the late 1970’s we (State Bicycle Committee and the Melbourne Bike Plan) tried to create a network for cyclists on local streets simply by mapping convenient routes. It was not a success! The intersections were a problem as was the 60 km/h speed limit (yes- way too high but the road authority would not consider a lower limit).

    When was the 30 km/h limit for local streets introduced in The Netherlands?

    A ‘default’ urban speed limit that applies to local streets without speed limit signs was not introduced in Melbourne and in other urban areas of Victoria until 2001.
    A lower 40 km/h speed limit on the streets of the central business district was sought by the City of Melbourne Council for over ten years and was not granted by the road authority (VicRoads) until 2012!

    It is inspirational to see what has been done in the Netherlands. We are decades behind in providing safe cycling conditions.
    I am very interested in the historic milestones of the achievements in the Netherlands on speed limits.

    1. The blanket speed limit of 50km/h for the built up area (so inside cities, towns and villages) was introduced on 1 November 1957. This speed limit does not require signs alongside the roads. The moment you see an official name sign for a town it is in force. Many towns and cities remind road users of the limit though. The 30km/h zones are much more recent. They were introduced in the 1990s and are a consequence of the ‘sustainable safety’ policies. These zones do have to be signed. You will see a sign when you enter and leave the zones. Once inside the zone the speed limit signs do not have to be repeated at every side street. There are about 30,000km of mostly residential streets that have a 30km/h speed limit in The Netherlands now.

      There are voices to lower the blanket speed limit for the built up area to 30km/h, with the possibility for councils to make certain streets through streets that can have a higher speed limit of 50km/h. I would welcome that.

      1. In California cities the typical default speed limit on major streets is 30 mph. The problem is that law enforcement has a difficult time trying to control most motorist’s speed. Its a law in California that if law enforcement is going to use a electronic device to record the speed of motorists when issuing them a traffic ticket, then there must be periodic checks to see what the average speed is for 85% of the motorists on that street. Then the city must post that average speed as the speed limit for that street before law enforcement can continue to issue traffic tickets based on what their electronic speed measuring devices tell them that the motorist is traveling at. In other words, motorists set the speed limits in cities in California.

        Los Angeles recently adopted a Zero Vision policy much like Sweden has. The city is not going to make much traction towards that goal if the average speed of motorists is not brought down on streets.

        A major problem that Los Angeles has for making changes to the streets is that the long range plans are made by the city government, but the short range plans are governed by the 15 city council members who control any changes to the streets within their district. If a council member does not want motor vehicle parking or through lanes to be removed in their district to install bike lanes or reduce the speed of traffic, then the department of transportation won’t do it. The trick is to find the city council members that are brave enough to make the needed changes and then hope that other council members will be inspired to try it in their districts.

        The first cycle track in Los Angeles that will be completed on Reseda Blvd this week is an example of that. The street was recently repaved. Before the repaving there were two five-foot wide bike lanes next to parked vehicles. There is an abundance of off-street parking for businesses along this corridor, so parking was removed on one side of the street, which reduced parking by about 2%. That created an additional seven to eight feet of width for the cycle tracks. There are gutter pans that are each eighteen inches wide that are next to the curb on both sides of the street. The gutter pans are very difficult for bicyclists to ride on. So that reduced the usable space by three feet. The traffic engineers said that they needed a minimum of one foot more space. Amazingly the council member for that district agreed to reduce two motor vehicle through lanes to a non-standard 9.5 feet width and also some of the motor vehicle left turn lanes were also removed.

        This cycle track is in the council district that has the least population density and also much more motor vehicle lanes per resident. The average posted speed limits on major streets in that area are often 40 or 45 mph. Reseda Blvd has a posted speed limit of 35 mph.

        1. Oh wow, they’re using 9.5′ lanes on Reseda? That’s a brave new world that we’re in for sure, it’s good to see that LA even considered something like that!

          However, I know exactly what you mean in general. To make matters worse, a lot of newer roads are chronically overbuilt to a point where the engineers are putting up warning and “speedback” signs at opening day before there’s even a history of the problem. That’s an outrageous issue and people of course are blasting by at far faster than the speed limit because the road is designed to highway standards (i.e. wide lanes, wide paved shoulder, median islands).

  7. There was a information/consultation evening for the Troelstralaan. I attended it on behalf of the Cyclists Union and beacuse it could be my standard downtown route (but never was because of the extremely bad pavement, loss of right of way and needless detouring. The dimensioning is actually taken from comparable pieces of cycle route in Houten where cars are allowed for very short stretches (tens of meters). Because of bad experiences with cars in the Troelstralaan we were concerned that cars would not accept to adjust their speed to cycling levels and would push cyclist onto the brick side of the road. In practice this does not happen at all: there are very few cars, cyclist feel they are the main user and hold their track whatever happens. The improvement compared with before could not have been greater.
    There is one aspect that helps to support the situation. Halfway the Troelstralaan there crosses a street which connects the neigbourhood to the Talmalaan (an arterial road for cars parallel to the Troelstralaan) in a convenient manner. So there is almost no need for cars to use the Troelstralaan. Yes, it works works great and really is part of a downtown route continuing over street designs comparable with the Humboltstraat. To me this is one of the finest examples were route improvement really can attract cyclists from alternative (lesser quality) routes.
    I found also an older picture of this street: http://goo.gl/B5C1Av which shows a bit the experienced indirectness and lack of priority.

    So I hereby acknowledge that my concerns were wrong and the municipality did an excellent job. Cheers!

  8. Nice story Mark!
    It is not completely true that after the disaster of the Burgemeester Reigerstraat nothing happened with cylestreets in Utrecht. As far as I know the Lamstraat & Kariboestraat were redesigned as a cyclestreet in the same period (and now again due to the railway works nearby). These residential streets have a very low volume of car traffic and a lot of through bicycle traffic from Houten and the district Utrecht Lunetten to the city centre.

    Some people have doubts at the Troelstralaan in Utrecht. See for example this item shot by students of HU: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ib0rJx-Fn6A
    One design issue not addressed in the Troelstralaan is the 4 arm junction @ 1:39 in your video. Would have been better to have two T-junctions to force car drivers to give way to cyclists, and to give cyclists the opportunity to avoid collisions. While the renovation of the street was also part of the neighborhood renovation, it would have been easy to use this urbanist tool to create an even more safe street.

    Oh, and what I specially like about the Troelstralaan is that it links all kind of “cyclist destinations” to each other. Kindergarten, playgrounds, supermarket, shops and of course the city to residential areas.

  9. Service streets as cycle streets do not work very well, if there are many cars surching parking lots. Then cyclists have to slow down behind slow driving cars looking for a parking lot. Example . . . More . . . The links show a rather new cycle route as a cycle street in Hamburg.

  10. From my experience, fietsstraten are horrible. Weird dangerous concoction, comparable to the US-style ‘sharrows’. Very unnerving to be cycling in front of a pushing car, even when that car is labeled ‘guest’.

    1. Are you thinking of a particular city or even street? Because indeed bad examples do exist, but -in my opinion- there are very good examples too. Usually those are the ones where you hardly ever see a car. It is telling that the video from this post shows only one moving car on the route.

      1. The only issue I ever had with excess motor traffic on a fietsstraat was on Prins Hendriklaan, which you mention in your blog post. One of the problems with that street is that those 14000 daily cyclists are disproportionately skewed towards university hours, so outside of the (broad) peak periods cars still dominate.

      2. The first example I had in mind is the fietsstraat near the new train station in NIjverdal. I guess that it might work during peak hours, but when I was there, it was very quiet, raining, and I was cycling in front of a car that couldn’t overtake me. I’d much rather had a normal road where he could have passed me.

        1. Was the driver tailgating you? Yelling or honking? Something to consider is that the driver was relatively OK with the situation as it is normal. In my experience it is rare that a car will be behind for a very long distance. If they are and it is just one car then I will sometimes pull aside to let them by and then continue on my way rather than have them behind me.

        2. The car was definitely not yelling or honking. Tailgating maybe, too close for me to feel comfortable. I assume that the car found it ‘normal’, but I think it’s exactly the same solution as ‘vehicular cycling’: you should position yourself in front of the car, and try to ignore them. While (in that instance) they could have widened the road just a bit and solved the problem by allowing him to overtake.

          Having to pull aside (in the grass) while the car is considered ‘guest’ is quite defeating the purpose, isn’t it?

        3. It’s actually extremely different from vehicular cycling. Vehicular cycling encourages bicycle riders to take the lane (block the lane?) on roads with speed limits much higher than 18 mph and where drivers should be able to drive a reasonable speed for a car. This creates considerable conflict between drivers and bicycle riders which has resulted in a lot of animosity. I know many people who like to ride but don’t simply because they don’t want to be associated with ‘cyclists’ who are increasingly despised by more and more people due to these conflicts. I fear this is only getting worse with groups like iamtraffic (http://iamtraffic.org/advocacy-focus-areas/equality/u-s-bicycle-laws-by-state/).

          A bicycle street is quite different in that there is no expectation of being able to drive any faster than bicycle riders. Drivers have an option of taking a faster through route where bicycle riders are on their own facilities and not slowing motor traffic or of taking the bicycle street where they know that they will very likely be only able to drive 10 mph.

          Drivers are also usually on bicycle streets for a very short distance at the beginning or end of their journey. With vehicular cycling they encounter bicycles in front of them at any and all times of their journey which can be quite infuriating.

          I’m completely with you on the uncomfortableness of having a car sitting behind you for any period. I just keep in mind (in The Netherlands) that this is normal, they’re relatively use to this, and they are a bicycle rider themselves.

        4. opaangell said: “It’s actually extremely different from vehicular cycling. Vehicular cycling encourages bicycle riders to take the lane (block the lane?) ”

          Calling for vehicular cycling is also a questions of condition of bicycle infrastructure. If cyclists have to use due to legislation fake cycle tracks like this or this or this (red part is the fake cycle track) or this cyclist are not satisfied. If the authorities are not willing to improve cycling conditions cyclist will go to the courts and ask for improvements. At least if the authorities do not tend to make better cycle tracks cyclist ask for taking the road lanes. In Germany the courts follow the cyclists to free cyclists from dangerous horrible fake cycle tracks. But it does not has to do something with “blocking the streets”. Cyclists have the right to use streets and are part of the traffic.

  11. I like the brick on the right side of the road to subtly discourage people from riding in the door zone. Good design.

  12. Couldn’t find your email…

    “The ratio between cycling and motor traffic should be 1 to 2, or preferably 1 to 4 or even more.” Backwards?

  13. No colour photos from that Utrecht 1997 experiment? Also, do you have examples of rural routes like this, just with a speed limit of 60 km/h. But what do rural roads in general look like. 60 km/h, red advisory lanes, one land width of black asphalt or maybe brick, with no assigned priority, except when crossing important roads.

    1. That’s right, in 1997 the newspaper pictures were still only in black and white 😉
      Rural routes are as divers as the city streets/roads are. There is a whole range of types depending on the categorisation of those routes.You cannot say something about ‘rural roads’ in general terms.

    2. I found a report on the evaluation of video’s of the Reigerstraat 1997 design: http://www.swov.nl/rapport/R-97-28.pdf
      It is Dutch however. A very short abstract: speed differences were low (obviously), cars did use the smallest opportunity to overtake cyclists. The two major problems were buses and unloading trucks. This congested of course the whole route for cars. Cyclists used the opposing lane and side walks to pass such obstacles, adding to a complete chaos. Of course shop owners complain always the loudest about “life threatening” situations for their customers.
      In my opinion the bottom line is that there are far too many functions on this road: about 20000 cyclists per day, parking lanes (thanks to complaining shop owners who still think that car users are of ane relevance for the turnover in that street), a lot of buses. Still no clear choices have been made but the current design alleviates these problems markedly. However the design of the street does not match at all with the actual behavior of both cyclists and car users. There still is a certain level of anarchy which helps to keep speed differences to an acceptable level.

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