Naysayers defeated by the Dutch again!

Naysayers defeated by the Dutch again!

Today we moved from Bladel to Alkmaar, due to congestion around Amsterdam we arrived a little later than we expected. Anyway, once the folding camper was setup I headed into town to buy some food.

The campsite staff had given me a little map to show where the town centre was but in fact I didn’t need it. The advice to turn left at the campsite entrance (we had arrived from the right) was enough. That took me straight onto a segregated cycle track and from there on it was both clearly signposted and full cycle infrastructure.

Once at the town centre I was able to get some cash and arrive at the little supermarket in the centre just as it was closing.

So I decided to scout around and see if I could find somewhere open and at the same time put the Dutch cycle infrasrtructure to the test.

Blindly riding around a town you have never visited in search of a food shop that is open when the first one you visited told you that there would be no others open seems a good way to test the cycle infratructure.

Surely this time I would make a bad choice somewhere and end up where there was no safe cycle infrastructure!

So I continued down the almost completely pedestrianised shopping street until I met a busy looking inner ring road by a canal. That had an excellent segregated cycle track, I continued along that, went over a huge lifting bridge on a segregated track and ended up on a quiet road which had a clear sign saying bicyles had priority. I saw a bus with a queue behind waiting patiently behind a very slow cyclist. I passed two teenagers riding side by side. Cars only overtook when the other direction was clear and gave lots of space.

I came to another big road, crossed it with priority (a car stopped for me) and then headed back towards the town through some out of town shopping units, still on a segregated cycle track. I then spotted a Lidl and crossed at a bike specific crossing into the carpark where there were plenty of bike racks right by the shopping trolleys. It was open! So we have been able to eat and will be able to eat tomorrow 🙂

I then continued around the edge of the town centre until I reached my original route in, then I came back to the campsite.

In total 5.6 miles and I didn’t find a single junction or section of road where cycles were not fully catered for. I felt totally safe the whole time despite not having much idea where I was. I navigated by looking for busy areas where there might be semi out of town shops like the Lidl I found and I got back by using my Garmin GPS showing my track so I could make a rough circle and reconnect with my route into the town.

The cycle infrastructure varied. Sometimes there was no road (just a cycle track), sometimes it was a cycle track separated from the road, sometimes it was a painted lane, sometimes a quiet road with special markings, sometimes a semi pedestrianised road.

Whatever the infrastructure was along the roads every junction still had proper provision for cyclists whether it was priority over side roads, special lanes or segregated tracks around roundabouts or specific traffic light phases.

I have ridden in what have variously been described as the best UK towns and cities (Cambridge, Oxford, Stevenage, Milton Keynes). None of these even come close to this essentially randomly chosen Dutch town.

Everywhere in the UK needs to have a complete rethink and get their road designers to the Neterlands on bikes for as long as it takes for them to understand what they need to do.


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  1. As you know, we’ve been trying to get British road designers, politicians and others to come over here for eight years. We pack a lot into just three days and those people who have come (this includes one planner and no politicians) have discovered exactly what you’ve discovered. Every possible excuse has been offered by politicians for why they won’t / can’t / don’t need to come to The Netherlands…

    • David, I keep putting it on the agenda of the Leicestershire Cycle Liaison Meeting but it gets ridiculed by the staff as an obvious waste of money. They say their staff have been on study trips and been to other countries but cannot point me to any reports of these or any impact on their work. It makes me very angry.

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