Cycling In The Netherlands, Facts vs Dribble

07/07/2009 23:36 by Amsterdamize

I’m already breaking my own vow of blog silence, posting yet another time, but it’s definitely worth it.

Recently Fietsberaad (Cycle Council) and the Department of Transportation and Water Management updated their ‘Cycling in the Netherlands’ document, as (international) demand for it required this. It’s a general, but detailed brochure about bicycle use and bicycle policy in the Netherlands, available in 4 other languages (pdf):

Not so long ago this site was bombarded (‘harassed’ would also fit the bill) with commentary from abroad about how segregated bicycle infrastructure is in fact dangerous (citing bad implementation of some bike lanes in Hackney (UK) as proof) and just this week another commenter schooled me on how we’re slaves of the motorists society, being put in place and how we are deluding ourselves.

One quote: “In Britain the cyclists have fought back. The main cyclists’ organization CTC doesn’t want facilities. Instead they have wonderful educational program called ‘Bikeability’ that teaches the kids and the adults to ride safely on normal streets.”

Right…just don’t tell David Hembrow that, he’ll ride proverbial circles around your ass.

The main gist of these zealous (and fact-free, imho) ‘vehicular cyclists’ is that we should all just claim our spot on the road and all will be well for all. If you read their diatribes you are quickly able to filter out that they are ‘real’ cyclists [regular readers of this blog, you can fill in the rest from here]. Their arguments range widely, but it boils down to a mix of their personal opinions, crazy assumptions about bicycle infrastructure and of what someone has been able to write down in a book of sorts. The latter most likely the cause of the former.

Easy As That

It’s tiring, yes, but up to a point I’m open to suggestions, if they have any merit. Well, I can also say (after reading up on their fora – apparently I’m brain dead -) I’m very comfortable in my decision to stop ‘engaging’ these people. Talking to a wall would be far more effective.

It’s not the first time I’ve seen this phenomenon, of course. You don’t want to know how many times I had to explain to visiting friends from abroad that the Dutch are not all on drugs, just because it (the soft variety) is available. Equally shocking was the news that drug use among Dutch people is the lowest compared to other Western societies (where it is banned and waged war on). How silly of us to try it differently and come up on top (but yes, tourists going nuts/bezurk on that stuff ruin it for the rest of us).

Hence, I figured this document would be a good read for those who are interested in facts, based on empirical evidence, measured, followed up on, analyzed and put into perspective (also very important, internationally).

To all the bobble heads…I mean, road warriors…I mean, vehicular cyclists out there, feast on this. It’s on the house.

Upgraded bicycle routes attract more cyclists
The bicycle routes between Rotterdam and Delft and between Zoetermeer and Den Haag have been upgraded in order to attract more commuting cyclists. This was part of the Fiets Filevrij campaign of the Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management, encompassing eight routes overall.

The ten kilometres between Rotterdam and Delft have now been transformed in part to a direct and fast bicycle route with a largely separate bike path and few intersections. The route has been asphalted partly in red, has no traffic lights at all and the cyclist always has the right of way.

According to a interim evaluation measures like levelling asphalt, adding lighting, separating cyclists from other traffic and removing barriers lead to a measurable increase in the number of cyclists.
Of the cyclists interviewed on five congestion-free routes, 28 per cent were new cyclists and 72 per cent were existing cyclists. Of the new additions, 4 per cent used to travel by car. Of the existing cyclists 1 per cent cycled more often, instead of travelling by car. On the routes Utrecht-Breukelen and Rotterdam-Delft a very distinct increase (more than double) of the number of cyclists has occurred after the upgrading.

In addition the evaluation demonstrates that the Fiets Filevrij campaign has a major directing part in upgrading bicycle routes. The combination of stimulation, direction and communication makes it easier to obtain funds and the routes are constructed quickly.

(Note: in this post I never claim cycling here is peachy, clear cut and friction-free. Our nature isn’t like that, so much to argue and complain about. My blog just isn’t focused on the never-ending bullshit that goes on elsewhere, putting salt on every slug/snail. I like to maintain my health and focus on all things that derive from positive promotion of cycling. After all, we’re talking human behavior here, they go in herds, so I’ll stick with the lead-by-example format).

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