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Posts from the the Netherlands Category

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Designs From Dutch Burbs Should Unite Vehicular Cyclists and Bike Lane Fans

Photos from Dutch suburban areas and countryside by Marven Norman.

This is the second in a two-post series about Dutch suburbs.

It’s understandable why vehicular cycling techniques thrive in suburban America. In the absence of good bike infrastructure, taking the middle of the travel lane really is the safest way to ride — uncomfortable though that is for many of us.

But if American suburbs are ever going to be made truly better for biking, today’s suburban bicycle drivers will need to find common ground with me and my fellow fans of Dutch infrastructure.

Here’s what that might look like.

1) Infrastructure opponents should take the time to offer meaningful suggestions beyond “no”

Sharrows in Indianapolis. Photo: Michael Andersen/PeopleForBikes

I’ve seen it myself numerous times: The bicycle drivers only demand “Bicycles May Use Full Lane” signs and sharrows while shunning anything else exclusively for bikes. Meanwhile, the planners and engineers are hearing from the rest of society that they want “more bike lanes.” But without any valuable input about design features, they resort to their manuals… and the result is bad infrastructure.

It’s long past time for the more experienced riders to adopt an approach of pragmatism.

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Dutch Planners School U.S. Cities on Bikeability

In the Netherlands, 30 percent of trips under five miles are by bike.

The Dutch like their bike lanes to be continuous, two-way, and separated from traffic so that "bikes flow like water." Image: ##http://planetgreen.discovery.com/tech-transport/do-bike-helmets-save-lives-or-do-they-hurt-cycling.html##Planet Green##

The Dutch like their bike lanes continuous, two-way, and separated from traffic so "bikes flow like water." Image: Planet Green

I know, I know, Euro-envy can get a little old. So the Dutch are trying to give us a little less to be jealous of. What if our streets were as bike-friendly as theirs?

We could get there. Our trip patterns aren’t dramatically different from theirs: most trips in this country are under four miles, or 20 minutes by bike. But here, people drive those short distances. What would it take to get more of us to go by bike?

In September, the Dutch embassy facilitated collaborative workshops between Dutch and local planners and engineers in Toronto and Chicago, evaluating bike facilities in those cities and making recommendations for improvements. This week, they gave their report card to Washington, DC. Next year: Miami and San Francisco; possibly Baltimore and Memphis.

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