On February 16th the DCBC hosted Mobycon from Delft who specialize in exporting Dutch Cycling Infrastructure knowledge. Above is the recording of the presentation by Emily Thomason.
The session also had a lively Q&A section. The attendees questions and Emily’s answers are listed below:
NACTO, the National Association of City Transportation Officials (Canada/US) is a great resource, and has a good page on raised intersections. One linked study found that raised intersections reduced median speeds to 5 km/h, which generally reduces collisions by 15% and pedestrian fatalities by 10% which resulted in a projected savings of $1.7 million USD over three years in direct and indirect costs per intersection, without reducing vehicle volumes.
A few things to note about way-finding signage:
- It’s important that where multiple cycle routes cross, you have signage directing people, even if it’s straight through (reassuring them that the route continues).
- In North America we also tend to have signs before an intersection (as is common on highways, where high vehicles speeds necessitate giving users lots of advance notice). Slower speeds on bikes mean that signs can be at the intersections and can often double as signs for pedestrians.
- In the Netherlands bike directional signs tend to be on a single post, with arrows pointing in the direction of the point of interest. The great Bicycle Dutch website has some good tips, such as pointing to cities, towns and neighbourhoods rather than just museums.
- The Dutch approach (which was actually started in Belgium) to rural bicycle way-finding signage is to have numbered signs (knooppunten) at each intersection so that users can connect the dots (following a national routes map) to form their desired route. This way-finding approach has even been adopted by Germany near the Dutch border.
Safe bicycle parking:
Bicycle parking is everywhere in the Netherlands, from massive garages to racks on the street. Big garages are not just at transit hubs, but in city centres, so that people can park and walk to stores and restaurants. Small sets of racks are placed all over, whether it’s commercial or residential areas. (The TuliP rack is great because it holds your bike up while loading and unloading both bags and kids, and is very space efficient.) New buildings since the 1950s are required to have secure indoor parking for residents. For older buildings, you can take over neighbourhood unused storefronts or have on-street secure pods.
Cycle Budgeting in the Netherlands:
Generally, politicians set goals (whether it’s mode share, project-based, etc), planners suggest projects/calculate costs and then politicians decide budget. They just allocate a lot more money than is typical in North America. Last year, the Dutch government announced (link in Dutch) 780 million Euros for cycling, or about $45 CAD per person per year.
Raised crossings and snow plowing:
This is a commonly mentioned anxiety but there are raised crossings (including this brand new project) and speed humps all over Montreal amidst months of robust snow-clearing operations.
There has been a lot of discussion about reducing emergency vehicle size. This presentation notes there are a variety of sizes of firetrucks in different cities, and Toronto has looked at ambulances and firetrucks. Smaller vehicles have many advantages, such as increased maneuverability in urban environments and even the ability to use bike lanes to get around heavy car traffic (it’s a lot easier for bikes to get out of the way of an ambulance than cars). Fire departments recognize this once it happens, but often it takes time to have that conversation and have them see the possibilities. It’s also important to note that with fewer fires than years ago, only about 4% of firefighter calls are for fires, while three-quarters are for medical aid but that fire departments are often required to send in large fire trucks to answer non-fire calls because they have no smaller vehicles.
Speed limits on urban (non-highway) roads in Quebec are 30, 40 or 50 km/hr. The default is set at the provincial level but borough and cities have sometimes lowered these defaults, resulting in a patchwork of different rules. It’s great to see that Calgary lowered its residential/collector default speed to 40 km/hr!
Active Transportation Guidance:
Local transportation is generally provincial. I am not aware of any provincial-level Active Transportation guidelines for Alberta but cities in Alberta may develop their own guidelines or references others, such as the national Transportation Association of Canada (TAC) non-binding guidelines (only viewable with payment). For example, Rocky View, AB has guidelines that reference the TAC guidelines.
I mentioned this during the presentation but here is a good link from Edmonton, and here’s the original post that made them famous, including some befores and afters of reclaiming that space. So maybe take advantage of the remaining winter to scout some out in your neighborhood!
More info from Mobycon:
Other interesting resources on livable cities and urban planning: