Showing posts with label tilburg. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tilburg. Show all posts

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Music and cycling in Tilburg

Here's a video of Batiste en David performing "Hier op mijn fiets". A translation of the chorus: "Here on my bike, I feel like a king. Here on my bike, sitting on my throne. Here on my bike, waving to people. Here on my bike, feeling the sun..."

I think the video was made in Tilburg - a town which has recently been criticised for the quality of its cycling infrastructure, and the resulting "low" rate of cycling. However, that's only "low" for the Netherlands. i.e. higher than anywhere else.

Cycling is always a happy thing to do in the Netherlands... There are other examples of cycling music on the blog.

The photo, taken from a copy of ligfietsen magazine, shows the cycling plan for Tilburg next to a photo showing a narrow cycle path. You expect to be able to ride side by side here - that cycle path is obviously somewhat narrower than the usual four metres for a bidirectional path.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Cyclevision / Human Power World Championships 2009

I returned yesterday from Cyclevision / Human Power World Championships in Tilburg. It was an excellent event, including racing, a trade show, lectures on various topics and of course lots of socialising.

The full race results reveal that Stephen Slade from the UK retained his Men's World Champion title this year, and that Barbara Buatois is the current Women's World Champion. Well done to both of them, and of course to all the other competitors. The people of Tilburg were great too. We raced on closed roads, and no doubt caused some inconvenience, but the people turned out to cheer us on and many volunteers helped with the organisation.

1 hour time trial video. I'm in this video briefly at 1:43, wearing a blue helmet and riding the white velomobile. As I enter the picture I only have two wheels on the ground, this being a problem with the corners on the course.

There's a similar still here.

Compared with my own efforts, the winners were very fast indeed. My 39.6 km covered in an hour put me in 57th place of 157 competitors in the 1 hour time trial.

The four hour race course had some really nasty tight corners for those of us riding velomobiles. With such a machine you really want to keep your speed up, as these practical fully equipped every day / all weather use designs are inevitably heavier than the stripped down and comparatively fragile racing specific machines that we were competing with. Nevertheless, velomobile riders did very well in the race. If you watch the video you'll see that Steve Slade came unstuck on his two wheeler too.

My own attempt at the four hour race was unfortunately marred by a slow puncture which I failed to notice due to my inexperience in the Mango, and not realising there was a puncture due to the suspension masking the feeling. The puncture caused my speed to start dropping from about an hour in. I initially tried to pedal harder to compensate, drink more and eat more, as I thought it was simply exhaustion. This, of course, simply made myself yet more exhausted. It's strange how the mind works in such a situation. Eventually the tyre was flat enough that people could see the problem and started shouting to me about it. I stopped and was helped to fit a new tube and restart. Suddenly my speed was back again and I kept up just about a 35 km/h average for the last hour. This resulted in my covering only about 122 km in the four hours. Mind you, a few years back I wouldn't have thought that to be a bad average speed.

A great event, made more enjoyable by the company of Harry and Marjon with whom I went, and also by all the BHPC people I met again.

There are more videos and pictures elsewhere.

One of the best videos from youtube of this event is here. I appear at 2:16 and 4:20. Read my review of the Sinner Mango Velomobile.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

The Grid - How the Dutch found that the only thing which really encouraged cycling was a dense network of high quality infrastructure

The map on the right shows an area which is approximately 6.5 km wide. That on the left shows main routes only on a small portion of the map on the right, just over 2 km wide. Nearly all the coloured lines show the positions of good quality cycle paths separated from the road. Almost all the minor streets which are not highlighted work as through roads by bike but not by car so these provide a tighter grid than is shown in the picture.
Back in the 1970s, after the Stop de Kindermoord protests, the Netherlands went through a period of rapidly revising roads. Research had to be done in order to find out what worked for promoting cycling, in much the same way as the UK started and then abandoned with "cycling demonstration towns" in the mid 2000s. The Dutch research is documented in an article by the Fietsberaad.

One of the conclusions reached was that good quality cycle routes were of almost no use if they were not very close together. This conclusion appears on page 43 of the article referred to above (page 41 of the PDF file) where there is discussion of the result of building a few sparse high quality paths in 1975 in both Den Haag and Tilburg. The evaluation in 1981 were showed that these sparse cycle-paths had not significantly increased bicycle use. These paths were of good quality, acceptable even today. They were the sort of path that elsewhere might be referred to as a "superhighway". However, they were not effective because there was no real grid. i.e. they were too far from people's homes and destinations to be of use to everyone on all their journeys. People won't travel extra distance to get to a safe cycle-path, because the convenience has already been lost by doing so.

The experiment which worked.
Delft main cycling route grid 2005.
Delft was the location of a different experiment. They built a three level grid. Here the city network had a a 500 m spacing, but there was also a district network with a 200-300 m spacing and a neighbourhood network with a 100 m spacing. These cycle facilities were within easy reach of every home and every destination and they brought about a permanent increase in cycling, as well as an increase in cyclist safety. It was concluded that policies discouraging car use are also needed, but the importance of a closely spaced grid of good quality routes for cyclists was established at this time and adopted quickly across the entire country.

That is how it was established that good quality cycle paths should be a maximum of 500 m apart and that extra cycle-paths should fill in the gaps so that cyclists never have to make detours to attempt to use better quality facilities.

It's now everywhere
The map at the top of this blog post comes from a presentation about plans for Assen given by the city architect on a recent Study Tour.

Conceptual version of "The Grid".
Primary red routes 500 m apart,
district routes in green and
neighbourhood in blue fill in gaps
The left half of the map at the top of this post is a close up of Kloosterveen, a new housing development of 8000 homes which is being built on the west of Assen outside the existing city boundary. This shows rough locations of just the primary-route cycle-paths through the suburb which provide access to schools, shops and other services as well as to the centre of the existing city and to the west to link up with villages and other towns. A new direct route to the city centre was built provided by 4 m wide cycle path and a 5 m wide bicycle road and over which the dual carriageway ring road was lifted on a new bridge. This attention to detail results in journeys from the new housing estate being quicker, more convenient, and more pleasant by bike than by car because there are no traffic lights on the route to the city centre by bicycle.

The right half of the image at the top of this post is a map of Assen and surroundings. In total the map covers an area about 6.5 km across, so you can see how closely packed these cycle paths are. Note that routes also go well outside the city, to all commuter villages around Assen and all the way to other cities such as Groningen 30 km directly North and Hoogeveen 40 km to the South.

There is a requirement within Assen that primary cycle paths are never more than 750 m apart. They're usually much closer than that. However, all is not lost if you're riding on a secondary route as these are also of very good quality.

Secondary cycle-route quality in Assen. 3.2 m
wide so narrower than a primary route. Still
adequate for the level of cycling traffic. Note
that there are always separate pedestrian paths
The photo on the right is of a cycle-path on a secondary route. It is three metres wide, not shared with pedestrians (they have their own 2 m wide path), it's very smooth and direct, it is lit at night, and it is a pleasure to cycle on. Good maintenance is required not only on the primary network, but also on secondary routes like this. See another blog post showing how cyclists came first when there were road works in this location.

Every area of the Netherlands has adopted similar guidelines. The grid of closely spaced high quality routes extends not just across one housing estate, not just across one city, not just to a few outlying developments of one city, but right across the entire country.

Unravelling of motor vehicle routes from bicycle routes has also resulted in a denser network of direct routes being available by bike than by car.

In practice this is how it works out for us: cycling from our home, in a culdesac we cycle not more than 200 m before we reach two different cycle paths which provide cycle routes to all locations. This is not remotely unusual, but rather what you'd expect for almost any residence in the Netherlands. See a video of one route from our home to the centre of the city.

Other grid designs - Milton Keynes as an example
Some people may have noticed some similarity in the language above between the Dutch grid of cycle-paths and the grid of routes for cars which exists in cities in many other nations.

Milton Keynes
has some cycle-
paths but not a
proper high
quality grid
For instance, Milton Keynes in the UK is a "new town" constructed around an extensive grid of car routes which are just as effective at encouraging driving as the grid of cycle-routes across Dutch cities is effective at encouraging cycling. Building this grid to enable driving was a deliberate decision. Milton Keynes was designed as an expression of the ideas of Melvin M Webber, an urban designer who was famous for his ideas about "mass automotive mobility" and who was known as the "father of the city" of Milton Keynes.

Milton Keynes is dominated by cars today because this is exactly how it was planned to turn out. Dutch towns are dominated by bicycles because that is exactly how they were planned to turn out.

Further posts show how the route from the new suburb was built and what it's like to ride from the centre of the city to Kloosterveen and a video showing the route from the shopping centre at Kloosterveen back to our home.