The Netherlands has the best bike infrastructure in the world. But bikeways that may seem first-rate to everyone else no longer cut it for the Dutch. They have made cycling so mainstream that people are demanding even better options — and the government is delivering, reports David Hembrow at A View from the Cycle Path:
In 2003 this cycle-path impressed me enough to take photos specifically so that I could show them to campaigners in the UK as the sort of thing we should have been campaigning for, rather than the compromises which we were campaigning for. Overall, I’d still be as happy to ride there now as I was in 2003. It’s not “bad” as such. However, this path is also not ideal in 2014 in the Netherlands. Expectations have increased and in order that people will want to cycle for a larger proportion of their journeys than they currently do, the quality of the experience has to be better than is offered by this cycle-path.
The old cycle-path is not quite wide enough and it’s alongside a busy road so can be noisy. Junction designs along here are not ideal and at some points the cycle-path is a bit too close to the road for comfort. There are also some stops along the way which increase journey time. While the photo shows a point at which the cycle-path is bidirectional, further along there are single direction paths on both sides of the road. This requires that people cross the road. Once again, not ideal.
The new route will avoid the problems of the old and because it will exist in parallel with the old route it offers people more choices and makes more journeys attractive for cycling. Not only will the different alignment of the route offer shorter distances for some cyclists, it is also expected to result in higher average speeds due to the relative lack of interruptions and higher surface quality.
The Netherlands is not standing still. The rate of change and improvement to cycling infrastructure here is still beyond that of other countries which sometimes talk of “catching up”. You can never catch up by starting from behind and doing less. Catching up will only happen as a result of out-spending and out-planning the Netherlands. Low aspirations and politicians delaying tactics and broken promises will never result in adequate progress. Make sure that “Going Dutch” isn’t just a slogan.
Elsewhere on the Network today: Better Institutions says that a bicycle tax in California would do nothing to elevate the status of cyclists. Cincy Streetcar puts a sensational local news story about the dangers posed by streetcars in perspective. And Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation shares the results of a study investigating why communities across the state have adopted complete streets policies, and how well those policies are working.