Bike News Roundup: How Utrecht makes a good intersection great for bikes

It’s time for the Bike News Roundup! First up, Utrecht in the Netherlands took an intersection that would be top notch in Seattle and decided it wasn’t safe enough for people on bikes. Here’s how they made it even better:

Pacific Northwest News

Halftime show! Ever bike on the Interurban South Trial? Then you might enjoy this Seattle Channel story from a few years ago about the old railway:

National & Global News

This is an open thread.

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13 Responses to Bike News Roundup: How Utrecht makes a good intersection great for bikes

  1. daihard says:

    It is “Utrecht”… :)

  2. Matthew Snyder says:

    I’m not sure what to think about that Groupon deal for Pronto. On the one hand, yeah, if you want a membership, that’s a good price. I’ve been considering a membership, and this is an even lower price than the “founding membership” pre-rollout offers they had. On the other hand, is this really the right financial move for Pronto? Groupon takes something like 30% as a cut, leaving Pronto with about $50 from each annual membership purchased. I’m still not sure I fully understand the economics of bike share, but from what I’ve gathered, bike share only works if a lot of day-use (tourist) memberships prop up the annual memberships. You need most of the memberships to be short-term even if nearly all of the trips are taken by annual members. I would think that this problem would only be exacerbated by cutting the annual membership price (to ~$50, in this case).

    • jt says:

      Hopefully they ran the numbers on it, though of course any such numbers would depend on some tricky forecasting. Presumably the idea is the lower price will get a lot more folks on board who weren’t planning to buy an annual membership otherwise. This seems to be restaurants’ ideas for doing a groupon, but I’ve heard lots of anecdotes how the “making it up on volume” plan usually doesn’t pan out. Plus doing this once kind of sets a precedent — whether I already paid full price or got the groupon, I’d definitely want to wait for a groupon before buying next year’s membership.

      Or I guess to the extent we are seeing Pronto as another subsidized mode of mass transit in the city, this just means it’ll need a bigger subsidy.

      • Al Dimond says:

        At Pronto’s current scale its variable costs can’t be that high. With bikes sitting out in the rain all day they’ll need almost as much maintenance as if they were being used all day. It would be different if the system were being used near capacity… I guess we’ll see what happens next summer.

  3. JD says:

    That intersection has some nice features, but for me personally, few things make me want to get off my bike and into my car more than a two-stage left turn. The amount of delay that kind of nonsense adds to a trip is incredible.

    • Josh says:

      There are places where the two-wait left turn makes sense, like oblique crossings of in-street railroad tracks that can’t accommodate compressible gap filler.

      But the added delay of a two-wait turn definitely means it shouldn’t be the default treatment. If you add just 60 seconds to the trip of a person riding at 10 mph, you’ve effectively made the intersection 880 feet wide. (That is, the delay is the same as making the trip more than 1/8 of a mile longer for each intersection with a 60-second signal delay for a two-stage turn.)

      It’s worth noting that Copenhagen, home of the “Copenhagen left”, has recognized that slow cycling speeds are a contributing factor to their declining bike mode share, and are investing heavily in making their bicycle infrastructure faster.

      The Dutch, meanwhile, have begun experimenting with desegregation, allowing faster cyclists to use the street instead of the sidepath, as recently reported by CROW. They’ve recognized that speed differentials on sidepaths are hazardous for slower riders, and that in urban areas, most faster riders prefer the street.

    • Gary says:

      Two stage left turns just make me want to ride in traffic to get through the dang intersection, or avoid it all together by modifing my route.

  4. JAT says:

    I despise that “Proper” Dutch cycling infrastructure. If I have all the rights and responsibilities of all other road users, then I want to go in the most reasonably direct route to my destination – bizarre chicanes at every intersection? Multi-stage maneuvers to accomplish a simple turn? No thank you!

    • Andy says:

      I’m not familiar with the laws in the Netherlands, but as long as I’m still allowed to use a general purpose lane for cycling (like we are here in Washington) I’m glad for there to be more comfortable options built for people who aren’t confident enough to ride in traffic.

      • Josh says:

        Likewise, I strongly support safe alternatives for more vulnerable users, as long as those facilities aren’t promoted as a panacea for all riders.

        According to CROW, the Dutch are beginning to consider desegregating their traffic, allowing faster cyclists the choice to leave sidepaths for the street.

        The impetus isn’t just the convenience of the faster rider — there are increasing complaints that children and elderly riders feel unsafe sharing cycletracks with high-speed traffic.

  5. Josh says:

    That Interurban video has modern implications. Ride the Interurban Trail through south King County and you’ll pass through old towns that were platted for convenient pedestrian access to the Interurban Railway.

    Nearly a hundred years after the railway stopped running, many of those street grids haven’t changed — they’re still islands of pedestrian-scale blocks, now surrounded by “modern” subdivisions full of cul-de-sacs and traffic sewers. And the commute from Kent or Auburn to Seattle often takes longer now than it did then.

  6. RDPence says:

    I like the Utrecht example. It makes more sense than the two-way cycle track on the east side of Broadway on First Hill and Capitol Hill. Would’ve been better to plan for a Utrecht style system across First and Capitol hills.

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