Showing posts with label denhaag. Show all posts
Showing posts with label denhaag. Show all posts

Saturday, 26 February 2011

The importance of direct cycle routes

One of our readers drew our attention to a video that shows a cycle route in Rijswijk which is in effect a suburb of The Hague. It shows a road where cyclists have to make a detour while motorised traffic can go straight on. The man in the video calls this a daily annoyance. And he is right. Most cycle routes in this country are as direct or (more often) more direct than routes for motorised traffic.

In this case (see picture below) the green line (about 100 meters/yards) would be the logical route. There is ample room for a cycle path there, but curiously cyclists are required to take the route represented by the red line. This includes going up and down and even an extra level crossing of a light rail line that would otherwise be crossed on the overpass. There is a shortcut (red dots) using the pedestrian stairs. But all in all the red route is at least double the length of the desired green route.

It is clear from the video that this man is not the only one who feels this is wrong. Many cyclists find a short cut by riding over the grass. The city council doesn’t like that but instead of tackling the problem by making the cycle path more direct, they put up a fence to protect the grass. The fence is of course consequently damaged. Another option is to ride against traffic on the opposite side of the road. Which is not a good solution either.

But it could be fixed: a bridge in this road (just left of the picture and seen in the beginning of the video) is due for maintenance. The man in the video urges the city to correct the mistake while they’re changing the bridge.

As can be seen on the picture, the rest of the cycle routes (on the other side of the road for instance) are direct and up to standards so it is most unusual to have this strange situation. It does make clear that cycle routes must be direct, people don't settle for less and rightly so.

The city of The Hague, third largest in the country and the seat of national government has a bad reputation when it comes to cycling infrastructure. One of my older videos shows an example of shared space gone wrong in the center of the city. David (while still living in the UK) has visited The Hague on a study tour of the Netherlands. The cycling experts in the city confirmed they know they are doing below average. This reflects in the ‘low’ cycling rate of 22% of all journeys. But The Hague is working hard (see picture above) to catch up with the rest of the country.

Link to Google Streetview

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Temporary cycle parking in Den Haag

The Fietsberaad just sent another newsbrief. Among the interesting cycle facts this month, Den Haag is in the middle of building a new underground cycle park by the main railway station in the city.

The photo shows the temporary cycle park at the station which has been put in place for commuters to use while they wait for the new facility. This temporary cycle park has 2500 spaces. As you'll see, cycling is taken seriously, including when works are being carried out. It is vitally important that cyclists don't lose the habit of cycling. I also have a picture of a temporary cycle bridge.

As you can see from the top photo, this cycle park was built somewhat larger than the original artist's impression in order to accommodate more bikes.

Den Haag is not alone
Cycle-parking at railway stations is growing rapidly all across the Netherlands as the requirement for it has also grown rapidly since the early 1990s.

Other examples on this blog include Groningen's main railway station, and the station in Assen, both of which have been written about more than once, or see all railway station articles. To get an appreciation of the number of spaces needed for cycle parking even at a small village, see this post.

Update March 2012
This cycle-park was eventually named "the bike tower". While it was supposed to have been demolished when the new underground cycle-parking was complete, The Hague Municipality and the railway company now predict that 11400 cycle-parking spaces will be needed at the railway station by 2020 and there won't be room for them all in the new underground cycle-park. As a result, this "temporary" cycle-park will become a permanent structure and its capacity will be expanded to 3550 bicycles, an increase of more than a thousand over the original size.

This story actually has a very familiar ring about it, as something very similar happened in Groningen. A temporary multi-storey cycle-park erected during construction of the main new underground was not demolished, but renovated with extra capacity, even though the new underground cycle-park also had its capacity nearly doubled from the original plan. This is a reflection of how cycling has grown, and continues growing, in the Netherlands.

I have other posts with more facts about trains in the Netherlands, a series of posts on integrated transport, and other posts about cycle parking.

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.