The Great Big 'Dutch Enough For Ya?' Bike Blog Roundup

We'll get on to the great 'does my junction look Dutch in this?' debate in a minute but first there are some important dates for your diary. For anyone within pedalling distance of Scotland, Pedal on Parliament has announced its third mass protest ride for the 26th of April with supportive remarks from Graeme Obree - Magnatom needs you to help turn up the volume. Further south, Stop Killing Cyclists have announced plans to commemorate traffic deaths in November. And less seriously, for knitting cyclists everywhere time is running out for you to get your tiny jerseys knitted for Harrogate's Tour de France bunting - and if knitting's not your bag there are many more ways to get involved with the cycle festival including having your old bike repurposed as part of an orchestra

The Curious Case of the Dutch Roundabout

As mentioned last week, a Dutch-style turbo roundabout is arriving in Bedford, which may well be Dutch in inspiration but is not the sort of thing councils should be spending Cycle Safety Fund money on - leaving some wondering why cycling organisatiosn are waving through spending on motorcentric schemes. Chris Peck explains the CTC's thinking while Cycle Nation blames pressure of time and appeals for calm. Meanwhile it looks like there are similar things happening in Austria. In America, never mind messing around with roundabouts, Beverley Hills would be better of going straight to building a Hovenring - after all, the US started building cycle tracks back in 1905 - it just didn't want to pay to maintain something that even then was seen as something for 'the elite'. And while the UK is at least getting 'Dutch style' bike hire at 40 northern rail stations, in another curious mystery, planned Dutch-style protected provision in Leeds has disappeared between the consultation and the implementation stage, just as the Itchen Bridge junction has been significantly watered down from original plans.

Up the Junction

Fortunately for those puzzled about what's Dutch and what's not - and remembering that it's not necessarily about putting kerbs everywhere - a new video explains how junctions should be built (and should be sent to every traffic engineer you know) - Bicycle Dutch explains some of the misunderstandings that have arisen while David Hembrow dissects every traffic light in Assen and how they work for bikes. In New Zealand, there's a defence of some aspects of Christchurch's design guidelines while in Amsterdam, growing bike congestion means that some of its expansion plans have had to be brought forward (while in Brussels it's old-fashioned traffic congestion that's about the only thing driving people onto their bikes). Not that everything that's Dutch is worth copying, of course - one Dutch station has tidied its bikes out of the way to make a big empty space instead, while Enschede, a former pioneer in Dutch cycling provision which now wants to reverse falling cycling levels seems to have an unhealthy attachment to on-road bike lanes. Meanwhile Toronto has adopted the least pleasant aspect of Dutch cycling and is allowing scooters (well, electric ones) in its bike lanes - although Cycle Toronto had wanted it limited to pedelecs.

All in the Planning

With a Toronto doctor calling for every planning decision to be accompanied by the question 'does this improve health?', back here in the UK, our own design guidelines are failing cycling by not treating it as a mode in its own right (and yet provision is still being built that doesn't even come up to those poor standards). As a result, money is being spent on a footpath in Lancaster that doesn't really go anywhere instead of tackling the A6 corridor, while Oxford City Council is fiddling around at the margins instead of taking space from traffic. Cycling should be allowed on more than one route across Tooting Common - although just because there's a greenway nearby doesn't mean cycle tracks aren't also needed on parallel streets (and it's not just the UK - Auckland was told that paint is cheap but apparently not cheap enough even as commuter cycling rates are rising in the long term). And while Transport Xtra asks if it makes sense to consult on 20mph zones when the public are generally overwhelmingly in favour of them, other consultations are more important with Cambridge Cycle Campaign responding to plans for a busy road junction and Ely cycle campaign responding to plans for a station 'gateway' that mixes bikes and pedestrians.

Rate my City?

Treehugger found some surprises in the European Energy Agency's ratings for top cities for walking and cycling in Europe - although there was no surprise to find that the UK is lagging behind in European cycling statistics. Sustrans announces plans to do a Copenhagen-style bicycle account for Greater Manchester (although it isn't clear how it will rate things like maintaining cycle routes during works in the city) while the US rates the top-15 'complete streets' policies among local authorities. What might such a rating programme find in the UK? Certainly flooding on the Bristol-Bath paths reveals different attitudes to cycling among different local authorities, although Bristol's 20mph zones possibly haven't been as effective as the council has boasted - while Hackney continues to concentrate on road closures over segregation and Leeds Cycling releases a vision for Leeds that might move the city up the rankings. Further afield the mayor of Seattle wants to reduce even more the numbers driving alone to work as the city's stalled highway project looks ever more like a white elephant as traffic simply disappears - an example, perhaps, of how traffic modelling assumptions of 'business as usual' trap us into our old ways of doing things - while Chicago releases a trove of bike share data that has already generated some interesting analysis. Meanwhile Boston's winter cyclists are told they're living in the wrong city, Portland looks at how bikes can be included in an age-friendly city and in Beverley Hills officials aren't even trying to make the place safer for pedestrians and cyclists despite an atrocious record - no wonder LA's bike culture is mostly radical and underground as the city loses one more bike commuter and gains an extra driver in rush hour.

The Puzzle of Parking

As War on the Motorist digs into the dodgy evidence on parking and high streets, similar games are being played with parking statistics in New York. Even as LA pilots its first 'bicycle-friendly business district' and developers in Calgary are adding bike parking to meet demand in downtown developments, businesses in Portland would still rather have parking than people pedalling past their doors - because really, who expects that guy in 'bike shorts' to turn up at their restaurant when even a swimming pool has customers who'd rather cram into the disabled parking area than have to walk a few yards from the car park?

The New Golf

And yet, in Silicon valley anyway, cycling really is the new golf although that hasn't stopped politicians proposing taxing bike sales to pay for bike lanes, while for the rest of us it may just be a route back to solvency. After all, if you need to move precious things quickly then a bike is the way forward (and if you want to see your brand advertised over more bits of London without paying a penny for it then Boris is your friend, if you're Barclays). In Glasgow a detailed four part examination of the Merchant City shows how a reviving area can go hand in hand with extensive filtered permeability

The Powers that Be

With Chris Boardman continuing to talk sense about almost everything, a job vacancy opens up at the CTC (we're just saying...) - perhaps we too could have an 'all powerful bike lobby' just like they do in the US? Joking aside, there are encouraging signs of political progress in Northern Ireland, while Sustrans Scotland has seen record numbers of applications to its community links programme. Nor does cycling have to be something only for the left. In a bold pledge, a Californian councillor pledges to cycle every mile of his city's streets. And it's not just in the UK where its hard to work out what's being spent on what - that's one way to hide the pitifully low figures, after all...

Safety and Vision Zero

With New York's mayor formally launching his Vision Zero (and, er, looking to London for inspiration), Bike Portland asks what 'vision zero' means in practice - In New York it means it's going to get very political, very quickly. Streetsblog considers where to go next and Brooklyn Spoke identifies five quick things that could be done soon while the continuing snow brings into sharp focus where America's priorities really lie. As yet more research reminds us the benefits of cycling outweigh the dangers by a factor of 20, the Guardian stil wonders what all that air pollution is doing to our lungs and the woman behind some of the most recent evidence for the safety of infrastructure explains how motherhood made her a campaigner and changed the focus of her research while the LA Times meets the bereaved father behind the city's ghost bikes. Here in the UK, cycling groups unite against cyclists stay back stickers which should be warnings not orders while Sustrans feels that road safety auditors' narrow focus on road safety means the big picture is getting lost (although they don't seem that bothered by mixing pedestrians and cyclists).

Legal matters

Meanwhile the law continues to be mostly an ass, with the police not charging drivers in 88% of cases where a cyclist was injured and the driver at fault - while both prosecution and defence seem to agree that there was room for a 7.5 tonne lorry to squeeze past a cyclist without changing lanes. On the other hand a van driver did get six months for driving at a group of cyclists - although he might have got away with it had he not been arrogant enough to try it again when they remonstrated with them. And it turns out that if you drive drunk, flee the scene and then try and get someone to lie for you, then you will get jailed even if it's only a cyclist you injure.

And Finally

As bike safety measures get ever more extreme - and hi vis clothing requirements for pedestrians start to creep into the courts - in Finland it turns out that even Rudolph is going to have to do more than sport a glowing red nose. But how will they ever get the reindeer to wear helmets as well?


"As mentioned last week, a Dutch-style turbo roundabout is arriving in Bedford, which may well be Dutch in inspiration but is not the sort of thing councils should be spending Cycle Safety Fund money on - leaving some wondering why cycling organisatiosn are waving through spending on motorcentric schemes."

Sustrans explained to me that the key to getting your proposed junction scheme approved by the Cycle Safety Fund committee is to show that it will reduce KSI.

The current Union Street roundabout is notorious for high KSI rates amongst a particular group of road users: vehicular cyclists trying to take the lane. The Council is keen to do something about that. What that "something" will be, however, won't be a paradigm shift. Getting agreement on a single proposal from all involved stakeholders is like herding cats, and Bedford Council is very car-centric. In their favour, they want to reduce KSI but don't have the funds themselves. So they went to the DfT's Cycle Safety Fund with a proposal that meets the bottom-line requirement. If it hadn't been approved, no improvements whatsoever for anyone would get done - the Council simply hasn't got the money. 

Building proper "Dutch" facilities was never on the cards. :(

I'm not making excuses for Sustrans, CTC or any of the other organisations involved in the planning stages or representated on the Cycle Safety Fund committee. Indeed, many of you will have seen the Twitter Storm last Tuesday and Wednesday nights with my criticisms in the thick of it. My no. 1 beef was that a car-centric junction is being re-built for what is basically another car-centric junction but with Cycle Safety Funds. The bottom line it seems is KSI for VC users. 

Meanwhile, what I didn't realise until my interview with Sustrans was that the Cycle Safety Fund was set up in the first place as a knee-jerk PR move in the face of The Times Cities Fit For Cycling campaign. The money was always there for road building and still is, just with a different name. :(

On the contrary I think this is an excelent project to devote cycle safety money to. 

Unlike the vast majority of cycle projects that simply tag cycle paths on to essentially cycle hostile infrastructure, this one tackles the bull by the horns and accepts us as legitimate road users. It does adopt the key feature of continental roundabouts. By making the geometry tight and contstrained and arranging for perpendicular exits and entrances this should slow motor traffic down to cycling speed - thus making the zebra crossings possible for pedestrians. This will be a vast improvement on the existing high speed roundabout which presents virtually no deflection to drivers.

Of course it would be better without the naff shared use pavements, but those are a side issue - the important and innovative part is what they are doing to the roundabout itself.


it would put us into direct conflict with road users. That is NOT what the Dutch do... they treat cyclists seperately and give them proper infrastructure WITH priority over side streets and the roads that converge with a roundabout...


If you want to go "running with the bulls" that's fine for you, BUT I would not expect my 80 year old father to negotiate it or my 8 year old grandson to cycle on it either. And I'm certainly not happy with jousting it out with other motor vehicles either.