Bicycle Reflection

PART 1:

Holland has the highest percentage of bicycle trips in the world. They are also the safest country for bicyclists. How is this possible? Just as AJAX studied the soccer field to the strategic advantage, the Dutch have studied street infrastructure to maximize bicycle safety and reduce the likelihood of car-bike collisions.

Examples of this infrastructure include:

The Dutch Roundabout: These are designed to maximize car speeds using sharp entrance angles and a tight turning radius. They also have a clear, separated bicycle “ring” that is outside of the vehicle “ring”.

Junction Design: This infrastructure minimizes collision in the most dangerous areas of the roadway, the road crossing. Bicycles are provided a protected crossing area with a separate signal light.

This does not happen accidentally.  The Dutch deserve enormous credit for investing in this infrastructure. Just as we saw in Children Fighting Cars in 1972, the Dutch take safety and health very seriously.

 

PART 2:

Starting at 8 years old, I would bike to my local sailing club. My mom was pleased to provide this independence to my siblings and me. However, she was terrified of our final crossing to the club. She was so afraid, that she often accompanied us to the final crosswalk. Attached is a picture and a diagram of the crossing.

IMG_1126.jpgIMG_0844 2After reading the Bicycle Dutch articles, it is clear that this crossing is missing several key features that would enhance safety. A Dutch engineer would likely improve this intersection in a few days. These improvements would cover:

  1. There is no protected crossing area. You wait within a foot of speeding cross-traffic.
  2. The crosswalk is barely visible. While the lines were recently repainted, there is still no signage, additional road paint, or surface differences.
  3. The crossing is on a straightaway. There is no reason for a car to decelerate at the crossing.
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One thought on “Bicycle Reflection

  1. You referenced some great examples from the videos! It is no coincidence that the Dutch’s emphasis on biker safety has contributed to the large number of cyclists. The Dutch roundabouts interested me because cyclists do not need to worry about traffic coming from their blind spot. I was surprised to learn how well-designed these roundabouts are. For example, it is smart to give cyclists a refuge island, so they do not get caught in the middle of the road. Overall, I thought it was genius that the Dutch have separate traffic lights for bikers. In general, I think Americans only consider motor vehicles as traffic; however, the Dutch take cycling into account as a form of traffic. As you mentioned, the “Children Fighting Cars” video does a great job of emphasizing how the Dutch value safety and space. As Amsterdam has become flooded with tourists in the past years, I wonder how this increase in activity has affected traffic? Amsterdam is known for its biking; thus, I am sure many tourists want to bike here. I wonder if they understand the biking lanes and rules or if tourist bikers have caused problems?

    In regards to your intersection drawing, I also live in a community that is not biker-friendly. When I was younger, I would only be able to bike around my neighborhood because the outside connecting streets have no crosswalks. As you mentioned, many crossing areas are not protected and this can be extremely problematic especially when cars are going at high speeds. Since Covid-19 has influenced many people to go walk or bike outside, I wonder if people are starting to recognize the flaws within American street plans?

    Like

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