Sunday, July 1, 2012

Benelux Tunnel in Rotterdam

     The Benelux Tunnel in Rotterdam is a fantastic example of the priority the Dutch place on cyclists. The tunnel offers a seamless connection equal to the treatment for the highway, but in this case only for two wheeled vehicles  (including motor scooters).  This second tunnel was opened in 2003 to ease the traffic (vehicular>? which exceeds 100,000) from the original tunnel.

Observations about Design

The architecture of the portals is very welcoming. There was sufficient space for a significant amount of queuing, probably overbuilt in some ways, but nonetheless attractive. The use of glass is very good because it helps light up the interior of the building and the escalator area which is especially important when you are going to enter the earth under the Niewe Maas (the Maas River) for almost a half of a mile.

The entrance to the escalator is very nice, but a standard width so that you can't have two cyclists together carry on a conversation very easily. There's probably some elements of escalator design that makes this unsafe that I am not familar with. I was slightly surprised by this because it seems like most of the Dutch experience is designed for side by side cycling with a friend or accompanying a small child. A small detail that doesn't matter because it isn't that long of a ride to get to the bottom 

One thing we saw while we were using the tunnel was a sooter entering the elevator in order to access the travelway below. I am assuming this is allowed as long as the scooter is under 30 km per hour, but it wasn't clear that was going to happen with the slight downgrade for the river in the tunnel. Probably not on a Sunday when no one else is around.

The elevator was slower than the escalator it seemed as this delivery person from Billy Bears (a local restaurant chain whose delivery drivers seem to feature bear ears on the motorcycle helmet) passed us awhile back and even with a lot of picture taking we caught up a bit on the ride down.

The tunnel maintains its bright feel until you get down further in the tunnel and then it was a little dark for the 30 km/hr speed through the space. It was a nice downgrade and I wasn't prepared to stop and evaluate the lighting and whether it was LED or not.  This tunnel offered several upgrades from the previously designed Maas Tunnel and serves to separate bicycle traffic from motor vehicles completely which is especially nice in the confined space.

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