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Cycling during lockdown

BicycleDutch - 24 March, 2020 - 23:00
This would have been such a special year for the Netherlands. In 2020 we would be the centre of the world’s attention with the Eurovision Song Contest, the Invictus Games, … Continue reading →
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Going back to the Utrecht Mariaplaats

BicycleDutch - 17 March, 2020 - 23:00
We’re all witnessing unprecedented events around the world. I find it stunning to see how quickly our “normal” can change! Less than two weeks ago I filmed the evening rush … Continue reading →
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“Reducing road danger: Empowering local communities in London”

Road Danger Reduction Forum - 12 March, 2020 - 17:45

PLEASE NOTE: The organisers of this event are being kept informed on the current advice from public health experts with regard to the Coronavirus situation in the UK. We are asking all those interested in attending to register for the event at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/reducing-road-danger-empowering-communities-in-london-tickets-95237966321 anyway: in the event of having to postpone it we will keep you informed both on this site and by e-mail.

Achieving Vision Zero involves Londoners being empowered to help deliver it.

Register here https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/reducing-road-danger-empowering-communities-in-london-tickets-95237966321  and join RoadPeace and Road Danger Reduction Forum in learning how Londoners are being empowered to reduce road danger.

London is committed to delivering Vision Zero – no deaths or serious injuries on the transport network by 2041. Yet 2018 saw 4,065 people reported killed or seriously injured. And road danger reduction goes beyond these statistics: people are deterred from cycling and walking (which the Mayor wants to increase) by their perception of road danger.

The fundamental reduction in road danger in London which is now on the agenda will involve Londoners themselves – empowered to assist in enforcing traffic law and successfully winning over local communities for bold initiatives.

Sessions will include presentations by Metropolitan Police on Vision Zero and 3rd party reporting, as well as experts in submitting footage and the technology behind it. Attendees will also hear from activists who have successfully campaigned within a community to reduce road danger, and the successes of Community Roadwatch.

Speakers include:

Baroness Jenny Jones: President RDRF, RoadPeace Patron and former Green MLA responsible for the “London’s Lawless Roads” report.

Detective Superintendent Andrew Cox: Roads and Transport Policing Command, Metropolitan Police, “Vision Zero: Enforcement and reducing road danger”

Ciara Lee, RoadPeace

TfL/MPS RoadSafe: 3rd party reporting

Clare Rogers, London Cycling Campaign: “Low Traffic Neighbourhoods: Winning over the local community

Jeremy Leach, Community Roadwatch: “Community Roadwatch: How to reduce speeds in your neighbourhood

+ CyclingMikey” on use of helmetcams; Paul Thompson (@raganello) on use of smart phones; Paul Hancon on the Cycliq bicycle light.

Supported by:

   

 

Categories: Views

What was this winter like?

BicycleDutch - 10 March, 2020 - 23:00
Snow on the morning of the 26th of February last! Surprisingly, this was only the very first snow of the entire winter of 2019/2020 in the Netherlands. For that reason … Continue reading →
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Veenendaal is Cycling city 2020 of the Netherlands

BicycleDutch - 3 March, 2020 - 23:00
Veenendaal was pronounced Fietsstad 2020 (Cycling City 2020) last Friday. The result of a national survey, in which over 45,000 people answered 26 questions about the cycling climate in their … Continue reading →
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The power of e-bikes

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 29 February, 2020 - 16:49

On a sunny September day last year, I headed out from the city centre of Utrecht to take a look at the town of Bilthoven, about five miles away. Despite being a fairly small settlement (Bilthoven itself only has a population of around 20,000 people, although it closely adjoins the larger town of De Bilt) the area around the station has been extensively redeveloped, with the road diverted, and a new underpass built that only allows walking and cycling.

This is the railway station for a town of just over 20,000 people. pic.twitter.com/g1P0lG9vEi

— Mark Treasure (@AsEasyAsRiding) September 19, 2019

I had arranged to meet my partner back in Utrecht city centre at midday (she wasn’t quite as interested in me in pedalling around ten miles to go and look at some cycle paths and new development!), and I was running a bit late, stopping off to take videos of roundabouts and cycle paths on the way.

Cycle path running parallel to main road, on the approach to Bilthoven.
The path is actually built in the woods, some distance from the road. It has its own street lighting. It then crosses a bridge, before skirting a roundabout (with priority). Just brilliant. pic.twitter.com/tlOPg244DU

— Mark Treasure (@AsEasyAsRiding) September 20, 2019

Fortunately, on my route back, I stopped at a red light in de Bilt behind a lady on an e-bike, with distinctive bright green panniers.

I say ‘fortunately’ because over my years cycling in the Netherlands, I’ve found people on e-bikes are a real bonus when you are cycling along on a human-powered bike. You can tuck into their slipstream and roll along at a fairly steady 15mph, a speed which would take some effort to sustain on a heavy utility bike if you are cycling on your own. The couple in the photograph below, pedalling along effortlessly on their e-bikes, were an absolute godsend on a baking hot day when I was struggling towards Delft along a dead straight and seemingly unending road.

There’s no need to feel guilty about drafting either, because the person on the e-bike is expending very little effort acting while they act as your personal windbreak.

On my way back to Utrecht, it turned out that I managed to get a very pleasant tow all the way back to the city centre. Here we are, just leaving De Bilt, on the quiet road that runs through the town centre (the main through-road is behind the hedge to the left).

Then along the service road that runs parallel to the main road. (Note the induction loops built into the asphalt, that almost always ensure you have a green signal as you approach these minor junctions).

And then under the famous ‘Bear pit’ junction on the outskirts of the city centre. Now on Biltstraat, heading into the centre of Utrecht, on a protected cycleway. The road here is only one-way for private motor traffic, with a two-way bus lane off to the left.

Soon after this, the lady gets away from me a bit because… she jumped a red light – a pretty minor violation given the traffic context, but I didn’t want to risk it myself. She didn’t gain much advantage from her light jump, however, because soon enough I caught her up again, right into the city centre, along the busiest cycle path in the Netherlands (if not in the world) –

Then through the large underpass that takes you straight under the sixteen platforms of Utrecht railway station –

Before our journeys separate, and she peels off to join the cycle parking at the station itself – presumably to catch a train.

We travelled 6km together, nearly four miles, and according to my GPS track we did it in a little over 14 minutes, right from the eastern side of de Bilt, to the railway station in the city centre of Utrecht.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, this works out at an average speed of a fraction over fifteen miles an hour, or 25kph, the legal limit for e-bikes. We only had to stop twice – at the red light I stopped for, and she didn’t, and then to cross Vredenburg.

Given the point at which we met, she had almost certainly come from even further away, either from Bilthoven, where I started, or from Zeist. These are both around five miles away, but at e-bike speeds, only twenty minutes or so from the centre of Utrecht. Indeed, 5 miles can be covered in exactly 20 minutes on an e-bike, which means that a huge area is within a negligible cycling time of both the city centre and the train station – pretty much the whole Utrecht agglomeration (well over half a million people), as well as other outlying towns and villages.

A five mile radius circle, centred on Utrecht train station. At e-bike speeds, it would take just twenty minutes to cover this distance.

That’s pretty remarkable when you think about it – that all these people are (potentially) less than twenty minutes away from the centre of the city, and able to get there in comfort and safety, with minimal inconvenience, just by pedalling, and without any need for a car. When you consider that these trips can then be made in combination with the Netherlands’ excellent rail network, vast swathes of the country are quickly within reach to people even in apparently ‘remote’ areas. Hypothetically, the lady I was following could have come from a remote village miles away from Utrecht, caught a train to Rotterdam, and have gone from door-to-door in less than an hour.

Naturally, these benefits accrue to people on ‘ordinary’ bikes too – people like me – although 5 miles is more likely to take 30 minutes or more to cover, under our own steam. That’s an entirely manageable distance, but e-bikes will obviously reduce the effort required. It has the potential to seriously start eating into those longer car trips that are not quite so appealing by bike.

In the UK we can only dream of having the kind of comprehensive, high-quality cycling networks that surround places like Utrecht, and that enable the types of journeys described here. Where I live, we have absolutely no meaningful cycle network to speak of, and a negligible rail network. Even our former railway lines – which could serve as excellent, flat connections between towns and villages, either by bike or e-bike – have been allowed to disintegrate into bumpy, muddy bogs that are unattractive and unpleasant to use.

A section of the former Horsham-Shoreham railway line, north of Partridge Green

Meanwhile our roads are increasingly clogged with dangerous, polluting and environmentally damaging motor vehicles, travelling in the vast majority of cases short trips that could be converted to other modes.

There is no reason why we can’t match the Netherlands. E-bikes erode the argument that it is too hilly, or too difficult, to cycle, and in combination with high quality cycle networks we could have people effortlessly travelling the kinds of distances described in this post.

Categories: Views

Is cycling priority on roundabouts a good idea?

BicycleDutch - 25 February, 2020 - 23:00
Roundabouts are much safer than regular intersections. There is not much debate about that fact in the Netherlands. But when it comes to the priority rules on roundabouts the opinions … Continue reading →
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When a junction turns people cycling into lawbreakers, how do you fix it?

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 22 February, 2020 - 12:47

As with many British towns in the wake of the 1963 Traffic in Towns report, Horsham responded to the coming age of the motor car with a mixture of enlightenment and destructiveness. In doing s0, it largely reflected the nature of the Report itself, which presciently diagnosed the enormous problems mass motoring would present, but offered damaging remedies that essentially accommodated ever-expanding demand for driving right in the heart of our towns, alongside a more benign banishment of it from limited areas within them.

In Horsham, that destructiveness involved the construction, in several stages, of a four-lane inner ring road that now encircles most of the town centre, and the construction of several large multi-storey car parks to accommodate increasing numbers of private cars.

The red line indicates the approximate route of the four lane inner ring road, over the previous street pattern. Original map here.

Although that ring road was (and remains) a blight on the town, the area within it has fared rather better, with a fairly deliberate policy of either complete removal of motor traffic, or minimising its levels. Through-traffic is discouraged by means of a 20mph zone (one of the first in the country) combined with a winding, circuitous route through the town centre, while many other streets have been either fully pedestrianised, or part-pedestrianised.

While these changes within the ring road are largely to be applauded, the enlightened planners and councillors who implemented them sadly neglected to consider cycling in any way, shape or form. One of the biggest issues is that the one-way flow through the centre, while successful at keeping motor traffic on the inner ring road in an east-to-west and north-to-south direction, also completely excludes cycling. I’ve previously written about this specific issue here.

Another longstanding problem for cycling lies to the western edge of the town centre. Here the former main north-south road across the town (shown in green and blue in the overhead view below) has been bypassed to the west by the four lane inner ring road (in red), leaving short sections of road with a pedestrianised area in the middle (highlighted in green), that still allows cycling in a north-south direction, but in a very half-hearted and ambiguous way. In other words, it’s not at all clear that it’s legal to cycle there.

This is actually a fairly important area for cycle journeys, because as well as potentially allowing you to cycle in a north-south direction avoiding the unpleasant, fast and busy four lane inner ring road (which naturally makes no concessions to cycling at all), it should also allow journeys in an east-west direction – particularly, people coming from the north and the west to enter the town centre. All these potential routes are shown on the overhead view below.

The red lines indicate entry and exit points for cycling. To the left is the large inner ring road.

The real difficulty lies at the southern end, where a new bus station was built around twenty years ago. It lies in the middle of the red ring, above. The building itself is attractive, but once again there was absolutely no consideration of cycling when it was planned (are you sensing a pattern here?).

The area where buses arrive and depart is buses-only – so the area ringed in green, below, is a no-go area for cycling.

That means all the movements through this area have to pass through the gap between this green area and the building on the corner, which is at present a pedestrian crossing, connecting the pedestrianised area with the bus station. This is a very awkward fit for cycling.

The video below shows me cycling along the line of the red arrow. This is at a particularly quiet time of day, early in the morning, so it is free of the potential conflict with people walking to and from the bus station.

It’s not even clear to me how legal this is. I take the option of crossing into the bus station and then moving across the solid stop line (the lights will only change for buses, so jumping the lights is unavoidable). The alternative is to cycle onto the pedestrian crossing, but that doesn’t seem particularly appealing either.

Short of rebuilding the bus station and starting all over again from scratch, to my mind there are no obvious fixes here to formalise cycling through this area. Perhaps a short term bodge is simply to convert the pedestrian crossing into a toucan that is at least legal to cycle onto, but then you are left with the inelegant solution of cycling off of it to join the road where the heads of the red arrows are located. Furthermore this toucan crossing would not help with cycling in the opposite direction, where people have to cycle (the wrong way!) into the bus station entrance from a signalised road junction, and then somehow ‘merge’ onto a toucan crossing which may well have people walking on it.

To demonstrate, here is another video of me on this desire line, cycling from the east, then heading north, along the line of the upper red arrow. Currently I take the approach of cycling onto the footway before the red light, to avoid conflicts with the pedestrian crossing. Although cycling in the pedestrianized area is legal, it probably isn’t on this bit of footway. But I’m not sure what else to do.

For pure north-south cycling journeys, the most obvious option is some kind of route running down the western edge of the bus station. There is a new-ish hedge that could potentially be sacrificed, and some parking bays that are occasionally used by service vehicles from the bus companies.

Here is a family walking south down the footway along the western edge of the bus station, with the hedge and the parking bay to their left.

This would solve these purely north-south journeys. However, it wouldn’t do anything to address the most of the journeys across the area, which will involve some east- or west-component, and therefore will involved the difficulties shown in my videos.

Indeed, the junctions around the bus station are an almost perfect case-study in how people cycling are turned into lawbreakers (or at least flexible rule-benders) because nobody has given any thought into how people would actually cycle through the area.

From the east, the ‘least worst’ option is to cycle on a short bit of footway (which may or may not be legal), and from the north the ‘least worst’ option is either to cycle onto a pedestrian crossing, or to cycle through a red light designed only for buses.

It’s a mess. And without a total redevelopment of the area, I’m not sure how it can be substantially improved. But any thoughts on how it might be done would be welcome! This area is important, as it is right in the town centre, and dealing with how to cycle across it in at least a legal manner needs to be solved.

Categories: Views

Winter Cycling Congress 2020 in Joensuu

BicycleDutch - 18 February, 2020 - 23:00
The city of Joensuu was host to the international Winter Cycling Conference 2020. With temperatures as low as -13 degrees and weather conditions ranging from sunny clear blue skies to … Continue reading →
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Who are the one percent super polluters ?

A View from the Cycle Path - 18 February, 2020 - 13:32
Our starting point for this article: We needed to reduce our emissions by 18% a year, beginning in 2019. Of course, we now know that this is not what actually happened in 2019 so we now need to reduce our emissions even more steeply beginning in 2020. This will not be achieved by any easy measures which allow us, i.e. the relatively rich people who live in developed nations, to carry on our David Hembrowhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/14543024940730663645noreply@blogger.com0http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2020/02/who-are-one-percent-super-polluters.html
Categories: Views

Cycling in the Finnish snow

BicycleDutch - 11 February, 2020 - 23:00
In the past two weeks I was in Finland, thinking: ‘When the snow doesn’t come to me, I will go to the snow instead!’ That wasn’t the main reason though. … Continue reading →
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Cheerful art in a cycle tunnel

BicycleDutch - 4 February, 2020 - 23:00
Most cycle tunnels in the Netherlands have a work of art on their walls. One of the reasons is that art makes the tunnels less scary. A cycle tunnel in … Continue reading →
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Rush hour at dawn

BicycleDutch - 28 January, 2020 - 23:00
It’s been a while since I showed you a morning rush hour. It is always good to take a step back every now and then. I often show you different … Continue reading →
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Renting a bicycle from a locker

BicycleDutch - 21 January, 2020 - 23:00
Thanks to the national OV-Fiets system, which is the public-transport shared bicycle system, I can get to places where I want to film for this blog. When I had to … Continue reading →
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When you design streets for people, not for machines

BicycleDutch - 14 January, 2020 - 23:00
The Utrecht Maliebaan is a beautiful tree-lined avenue – over 60 metres wide – that was built almost 400 years ago as a sports track for a game that was … Continue reading →
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You are not made of sugar…

BicycleDutch - 7 January, 2020 - 23:00
You won’t melt in the rain… That is not the answer you want to hear as a teenager when you complain to your mother about having to cycle to school … Continue reading →
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2020 is the year of stage 2 of the Tour de Force

BicycleDutch - 1 January, 2020 - 23:00
In this first post of the year I’d like to focus on the second stage of the Tour de Force which starts right now, in 2020. But we can of … Continue reading →
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Happy Holidays

BicycleDutch - 23 December, 2019 - 23:00
As promised last week, I have a little video to wish you all the best for the holidays. It is traditional, in this darkest time of the year, that the … Continue reading →
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A compilation of my 2019 posts and videos

BicycleDutch - 17 December, 2019 - 23:00
It is time again for the traditional year-in-review video in the last real blog post of the year*. This is the fifth end-of-the-year compilation video, so it is becoming a … Continue reading →
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Riding from Delft to The Hague in the dark

BicycleDutch - 10 December, 2019 - 23:00
It is never fun to discover that your train service is suspended due to upgrading works and you will have to use a bus instead. I hate being on a … Continue reading →
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