Dutch Roundabouts and Roadways for Cyclists

Image from Dutch Bicyclists blogger’s article: Explaining the Dutch Roundabout Abroad

As Bicycle Dutch Blogger elaborates on in his article, Explaining the Dutch Roundabout Abroad, the Dutch roundabouts are dangerous in the “eyes of foreign planners and engineers”. The Dutch prefer roundabouts over over signalized intersections. This is even the preference for pedestrians and cyclists. The striking observation that Bicycle Dutch Blogger made was that the Dutch intersections that are now roundabouts have proven to be less dangerous than traditional intersections. Bicycle Dutch Blogger also spoke with Dick van Veen, a senior traffic expert at Mobycon a Dutch consultancy company. Dick van Veen explained to Bicycle Dutch Blogger that through research he has found that signalized intersections are designed for not for the safety of pedestrians or cyclist but for high traffic flow. Dick van Veen believes that signals make people lazy and cause them to only be concerned about whether or not their traffic light is green. Moreover, Dick welcomes switching off signals outside of peak times. Dick elaborates also that when one is driving through a roundabout weaving is not easy and causes cars to use the most outer lanes.

Betsky agrees with Dick and believes that the Dutch roadway are safe and are built more along the lines of concern for pedestrians and cyclists. Betsky’s uses his bike route from work to home to help explain how he views the Dutch architecture of the city. Betsky describes the Netherlands to as a country that is “marked by linear development along dikes, roads, and now highways, connecting points where first water and now traffic is controlled” (16). Betsky describes how the story of today regarding Rotterdam is a modern metropolis. He explains that the modern architecture and planing reflect the “glories of integrated economic, social, aesthetic systematizing of all urban needs” (34).

It is clear that though the eyes of these writers in these articles that the Dutch roadway system is built and nicely accommodated for pedestrians and cyclists. Their roundabouts have proven to be less dangerous and more effective in preventing accidents than signalized intersections. Amsterdam and Rotterdam are focused on their environment and having a modern metropolis that is concerned about pedestrians and cyclists that help the environment.

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5 thoughts on “Dutch Roundabouts and Roadways for Cyclists

  1. I like how you’re working to link the bike blog stuff to Betsky! He doesn’t really talk much about street infrastructure, and the bike blog doesn’t talk about the built environment around the streets. I’d be interested in seeing your linkage developed further (maybe in Essay 2 or maybe just in conversation in Amsterdam): How does the infrastructure enable the kind of bike ride Betsky took?

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  2. I could not do a full citation of the picture because I am in Florence right now and having technical difficulties. I will do it later though.

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    1. I also found the bit about people becoming complacent as a result of traffic lights interesting. I honestly cannot remember the last time I looked both ways before crossing a street with a green walk sign which is wildly unsafe. I’ve run reds by mistake before and texting and driving, as well as drinking and driving, is a widespread problem. When I was in Albania last month the advice I received was, “don’t look both ways. Look every way.” Drivers in that country are crazy (in Greece as well) but that does at least encourage vigilance. In the West we take assumed order far too seriously and are often careless as a result. There does seem to be a lot of logic behind these special cyclist routes that has not been adopted elsewhere. I often find it irritating when bikers are forced into traffic in the US, but it’s unfortunately because we don’t make our roads to accommodate them which is both dangerous and inefficient.

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      1. You could certainly expand on what you mention about Betsky’s framework of linearity as it pertains to the topic you bring up here.

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      2. To clarify, I mean that it would be interesting to see you expand on that point in your essay (I realized it came across as quite sassy which was not my intent!) It might be worthwhile to also further explore the idea of compromise that Betsky writes about, which is pertinent with this topic.

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