Two intersections improved for cycling

Streets are never finished. Their design needs constant monitoring. Traffic flows may change over time, people’s travel habits may change and views on which is the preferred mode of transportation may change as well. When the municipality of ʼs-Hertogenbosch established that two intersections in the north of the city did no longer meet today’s requirements, they were changed to especially make the crossings safer for cycling and walking.

Billet en français

The intersection Zevenhontseweg/Rompersebaan after the reconstruction. The roadway is narrower than before and the crossing is raised as indicated by the piano key markings.
The crossing before the reconstruction. The wide roadway encouraged speeding and the intersection did not stand out very much. The yield sign has an under sign that means cycling should be expected from both directions.

Residents have been complaining for some time that the streets in the north of the city of ʼs-Hertogenbosch are no longer safe enough for everyone. This area of the city was developed from the 1970s on through the 1980s until the early 1990s. Some intersections have been changed in recent years. Most of the larger signalised intersections became roundabouts, which led to a cycle route with priority for cycling for 5 kilometres. But the residents feel that especially the wide and long straight roads in the area encourage speeding by motorists which makes the interactions on the roundabouts and other intersections with people walking and cycling too dangerous. A group of residents and the local green party say that there were over 100 crashes in this area since 2014, resulting in 3 deaths. The spokesperson of the local green party told a newspaper  “We would like a number of traffic experts to look at the situation with the residents, so that they can together come to a solution to get a safer neighbourhood with a reduced number of traffic accidents.” It is interesting that even a road that was narrowed from 4 lanes to two, as recently as in 2013, is still perceived as too dangerous. The views of what roads should look like in a residential area are changing rapidly in the Netherlands. The municipality acknowledges at least some of these ideas and published a statement to explain why the two intersections were changed now:

As a municipality, we believe it is important that everyone can travel from A to B in a comfortable, clean and safe way. We are committed to accommodating that. Our roads are designed to have as little chance of accidents as possible. And we give plenty of space to cyclists. Unfortunately, accidents do still happen. We think every accident is one too many. That is why we remain constantly focused on improving road safety.

The intersection Zevenhontseweg/Bruistensingel after the reconstruction. From the viewpoint of cycling only the dirt on the right hand side stands out. That will be grass.
The intersection Zevenhontseweg/Bruistensingel before the reconstruction. It is not easy to see that the crossing was not on a raised table before. The block markings were already on the outside of the crossings. This design was meeting most requirements. Only for motor traffic things really changed.

The crossings at either end of Zevenhontseweg, a connecting east-west road between two north-south main roads, were changed as follows:

  • The bicycle crossings are now on a raised table, so that they stand out more for motorists.
  • The roadway was narrowed at the raised table and directly in front of it. This measure and the previous one should reduce the speed of motor traffic.
  • Some of the verges and traffic islands will be greener (with grass instead of black and white concrete slabs).

The reconstruction took place from 16 November 2020 and was finished about a month later. It is noteworthy that all the changes were for motor traffic. Nothing really changed from the viewpoint of walking and cycling.

A picture from the reconstruction works shows that all the surfaces were taken out and most of the kerbs (curbs) have been relocated.

Unfortunately, another crash took place on the crossing of Zevenhontseweg and Rompertsebaan on Saturday 23 January, after the reconstruction. A cyclist was hit by a driver. The local press showed a picture from the far distance showing an ambulance, but privacy laws in the Netherlands make it impossible to state anything more about possible injuries the woman on the bicycle may or may not have sustained. Naturally, it is very unfortunate that a crash occurred so soon after the reconstruction, but one crash does not say much about the effectiveness of the reconstruction. The object was to reduce the number of crashes as much as possible, not eliminate them altogether. Only after quite some time it will be possible to tell whether that was successful. When you look at the intersection now and the current design recommendations for such types of crossings, all the boxes were ticked and it can be expected that the crossings are indeed safer than before.

Zevenhontseweg is an east-west connector between two north-south routes. From the ground it doesn’t look like it is a very urban area, but from this picture you can see that it is in the middle of a vast residential area. Picture Google.
I could not find official plans so I marked the relocated kerbs on an aerial picture from Google. All the changes are for motor traffic. The roadway was narrowed and the raised table created a speed bump. Crossing Zevenhontseweg/Rompertsebaan.
Also on the crossing Zevenhontseweg/Bruistensingel all the changes were for motor traffic. The cycleway did not really change at all.
The approach of the crossing Zevenhontseweg/Bruistensingel. You can see that the crossing is raised. That decreases the speed of motor traffic. The under sign on this yield sign shows both a bicycle and a moped. Together with the arrows it means “expect people on bicycles or mopeds from both directions”.
The kerbs were only moved where that was absolutely necessary. The rest of the travel lane for motor traffic was narrowed by a simple line on the new and existing asphalt. The lane is still wide enough, also for bigger vehicles.
The intersections are supposedly also greener than before, but as far as I can tell this is the only place that had a stone surface in the before situation that was removed: a corner island.
The same corner island as in the previous picture. It is bigger and the dirt will become grass. The concrete blocks to prevent vehicles to cut the corner have become a bit bigger than before.
The width of the cycleway and the foot path have remained the same as before the reconstruction. The pedestrian crossings are completely flush which means there are no height differences which would make the crossing difficult to use for people in a wheel chair or when you push a baby carriage. Thanks to the narrowed roadway the crossing of each lane can be done in just 5 steps. This also reduces the risk: the exposure to danger is shorter in time.
Completely level pedestrian crossings may be good for people in a wheel chair, they do pose a problem for people who are visually impaired. To show them where exactly the crossings of the two motor lanes and the two cycleways are there are tactile markings in the surface. Dotted tiles directly at the crossings and grooved tiles in the direction of travel for parts where you need to go straight-on.

This week’s video showing the reconstruction of two cycling crossings.

2 thoughts on “Two intersections improved for cycling

  1. I am a bit confused about the priority markings at these crossings. Based on the last two pictures in your post, it seems that pedestrians crossing do not have priority over motor traffic, even though cyclists do. The shark’s teeth are just before the cycle path rather than before the pedestrian crossing, and the pedestrian crossing is marked with dashed lines rather than zebra stripes. Also, the pedestrian crossing is in asphalt, rather than continuing the material of the footpath.

    Why would the municipality give priority to cycling but not to walking here? Or is that not the intention? The current marking layout seems confusing to both drivers and pedestrians about who has priority, especially given the new raised crossing.

    An example of the markings I would have expected is present at this roundabout in Nijmegen: https://www.google.com/maps/@51.8199166,5.866723,49m/data=!3m1!1e3

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