How to develop cycling infrastructures? Learning from the Dutch example.

men and women riding on bikes on road
Start with network planning – then infrastructure design.”  Rotterdam, The Netherlands (photo: Illiya Vjestica,

Take-aways by Stephan Renner from a webinar on Dutch Bicycle Infrastructure, 28 May 2020 (by DTV and the Dutch Cycling Embassy)

Presented by Teije Gorris (DTV Capacity Building)

The principles are developed for the GROW Design Manual for Bicycle Traffic, developed by the Dutch CROW platform.

  1. Cohesion: You can cycle from anywhere to everywhere. Focus on utility cycling (not leasure cycling).
    1. Start with network planning. A cohesive network consists of connected branches. Grid size of 300-500 meters (all routes have an alternative within 300-500 meters).
    2. Connecting with other networks (e.g. public transport) to allow for intermodality.
    3. Start with a link, but plan for a network (hierarchy of levels in the network). Put priority of resources on cycling in the principle network.
  2. Directness: Minimising detours.
    1. Short and fastest routes for cycling, e.g. priority in traffic lights
    2. Detour factor: Distance from A to B (air line) divided by Distance on the street. Detour factor in principle bicycle networks should be <1,2
  3. Safety: minimal pollution, minimal stress level, health benefits of cycling.
    1. Segregating vehicle types (fast, heavy traffic vs. slower light traffic)
    2. Avoiding conflicts with intersecting traffic, reducting points of conflict
  4. Comfort: should not be underestimated: avoid traffic nuisance, good road surface, optimizing wayfinding, directness. Avoid arguments for not using the bicycle.
  5. Attractiveness: is a personal principle, but: well-maintained public space, activities along the route and everything but heavy traffic and pollution. Avoid planning the routes against heavy congested areas or industrial facilities.

Start with network planning – then infrastructure design. Smaller routes can have the benefits of not having the challenge of heavy streets.

Dutch Cycling Embassy published infographics on health benefits, cost-benefit, etc. This helps in the conversation with city planners. Sustainable Urban Mobility Planning is very relevant for this (ELTIS), integrated planning and involving stakeholders is important.

What is still needed is capacity building, because there are a lot of projects on street design, but they need to be done well. Therefore, in many countries stakeholders and planners still need to learn state of the art cycling infrastructure.

Create additional incentives, e.g. reward schemes for cycling, tax reductions for bicycles, gamification and cycling competitions, and ongoing investment in better bicycle infrastructure, also between cities, to cater for higher rate of e-bikes.

The hand-out of May 2020’s edition is available here. To receive the latest version of the handout, register for the next edition of the webinar, which is organised every last Thursday of the month. More info here.

dutch cycling embassy webinar pic

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