Sunday, July 1, 2012

Delft Sustainable Transportation Tour

Our program is going to focus on transportation within Delft when the students from the University of Oregon program visit us and make our program expand to over 40. Logistically, it will be impossible to traverse the bicycle infrastructure with a group that large, so we'll end up breaking up into two groups.

There is so much to see throughout the City so Peter tried to distill it down into 18 specific sites five hours doesn't much leave time for a lot of discussion, but we'll try our best. The map below highlights specific elements ranging from a bicycle highway undercrossing (2), street demotion (after a roadway expansion), road safety compromise (10), and a ferry for bicycles (9).

View Delft Sustainable Transportation Tour in a larger map

This tour begins and ends at TU Delft.
  1. Tunnel under the A13 (near TNO). part of a “bicycle superhighway” that gives bikes a non-stop route along an east-west axis between Delft and Zoetermeer (10 km = 6.5 mi). Transit in this area is mostly oriented North-South (to the Hague or Rotterdam) and bike is the best alternative to the car for east-west travel; this investment aims to increase the distance over which people will use a bike.
  2. Service roads in Delfgauw. The principle of separating through traffic from local traffic is accomplished by using service roads. Bikes and local traffic can share the low-stress service roads.
  3. Cycle track with raised crossings along Delfgauwseweg. Until recently, this street had bike lanes instead. However, new guidelines in the 2000’s recommend against bike lanes next to parking lanes wherever possible, and so the street was rebuilt with a narrower road (no more bike lanes) and a cycle track. There wasn’t room for a pair of one-way cycle tracks, so it’s too way. It was placed on the city side (not the canal side) to avoid a heavy traffic conflict at the northern end, but that meant crossing several intersections, and intersection safety at junctions with 2-way cycle tracks are a concern. The solution was raised crossings.
  4. Dog-leg 2-way cycle track to Oostsingel. A major desire line for bikes continues from Delfgauwseweg to Oostsingel (“east quai”). That involves a “dog-leg” in which a traveler has to go right, then left. In this case the dog leg is a pair of Y’s with a trunck connecting the stems. Until recently, bikes headed north passed through it as cars would, keeping to the right in bike lanes along the trunk and making a difficult left turn at the northern “Y” junction. The (recent) solution was to make a 2-way cycle track on the canal side of the trunk, so that people need to cross the trunk only at its southern, signalized end and proceed up the left side of the trunk. While in the area, enjoy the beautiful Oostpoort (“east gate”) and notice how there is virtually no motor traffic on the roads bordering the canals, even though canal and river banks are naturally a preferred places for traffic.
  5. Koepoort:  garage and road closure. The Koepoort garage is the most recent of 4 garages in a ring around old Delft’s shopping area, allowing cars to get close but keeping them out of the inner city. Also notice how Oostsingel was closed to cars on its approaches to the Koepoort bridge – forces through traffic to use the parallel bypass road and keeps traffic very light on Oostsingel.
  6. Center of Delft. Items of interest
    1. The Market: the ancient practice of “the mall that comes to you” allowed retailers to have the benefits of larger scale while minimizing shoppers’ need to travel. (Compare today’s big box stores.) The market continues every Thursday in Delft, other days in nearby towns.
    2. The Market:  was a parking lot until around 2000 (except on market day), when it was cleared out.
    3. The large car-free and “car-poor” area, and the movable bollards that keep most motor vehicles out while allowing deliveries, trash pickup, etc.
    4. Oude Langedijk: this street had a lot of traffic as late as 2000. Now the whole street is closed to traffic except line buses (every 30 minutes, both directions); it’s even signed as a bike path (!!!). It’s part of a plan that makes it virtually impossible to get from one side of the city to the other by going through the city; instead, motor vehicles, where allowed, enter from one side and exit on the same side.
    5. Signs for pedestrian areas specifically allow bicycles (“toegestaan” = allowed). This is a national trend that, if not applied here, would have made Delft center a major barrier to the bicycling network!
    6. Trees in the parking lane. With limited space, you can have both trees and parking by planting trees in the parking lane.
    7. In de Veste (“In the Fortifications”) shopping center:  as the city / population grew, would the needed new retail go to fringe shopping centers? No, the city found a way to keep expand the center’s retail area, converting an old industrial area still in walking distance of the train station to modern retail with a cinema and theater, with housing above. It has a parking garage on the edge (shops provide 1 hr free parking if you buy enough) with direct access from the ring road.
  7. Plantagebrug: Footbridge added in the 1980’s as part of a project to give the Delft bicycling network a fine mesh, i.e., not have gaps that require bikes to take roundabout detours. It’s a valued alternative to the relatively high stress crossing further north, and the short-cut it provides gives bikes and advantage.
  8. Delftweg (in Rijswijk):  Example of a road whose function was drastically changed. It was formerly a through route for cars, and a crummy route for bikes, with narrow bike lanes that often flooded. Sometime around 2000 it was rebuilt with a complete change in function. For cars, it was “demoted” to a local road. To reinforce the local status, the “bayonnet” traffic calming device was used:  it controls speed by a combination of vertical deflection and horizontal deflection, and it limits volume by creating a one-lane bottleneck. Meanwhile, for bikes it was “promoted” to a major cycling route. With the road made narrower than previous (no more bike lanes), there was space to build a new cycle track. For photos and explanation, see
  9. Ferry across the Vliet: It maintains a link for bicycle travel without the cost of new bridge or the inconvenience of making people go a long way out of their way. Both sides of the canal belong to the town of Rijswijk, which wants residents on one side to be able to get services on the other without giving up the bike. (Open only on weekdays until about 17:00.)
  10. Ruys de Boerenstraat: Dutch road safety guidelines call for making streets mono-functional. They should either carry through traffic (preferred speed = 50 km/h or more) or provide access to homes & shops (speed limit = 30 km/h). However, some older streets like this have to serve both functions. Residents wanted it demoted to a 30-km/h street with serious traffic calming and traffic diversion, but the Province wouldn’t allow it because there isn’t a convenient parallel alternative for through traffic. The compromise objective was to continue to accommodate through traffic, but to introduce traffic calming measures that would permit traffic to run without problems at speeds of 40-50 km/h while trying to prevent high speed traffic (some people were zipping by at 70+ km/h) and overtaking, and at the same time make the street safer for cycling. The redesign shrunk the road, replacing bike lanes with cycle tracks outside the road. It also involved installing median islands to slow traffic and make it easier to cross, introducing some curvature, and installing a median “hump” that discourages overtaking. Observations show that the design worked. Overtaking and speeding have all but disappeared. Speed measurements before / after show that the average speed hasn’t changed; however, the incidence of very fast traffic has gone way down. For photos and more info, see
  11. Advisory bike lanes in the Hof van Delft neighborhood (e.g., A Pauwstraat). For more detail, see Contrast with typical American striping with a centerline, and perhaps sharrows.
  12. Buitenwatersloot, where it passes under the Provincialeweg:  First, it’s another example of demotion; this street was demoted to local when a parallel, “modern,” car-oriented street was built (probably 1950’s). Second, paying attention to the overhead highway, it could potentially be a barrier to bicycling. In 3.6 miles, it has only 4 crossings for cars. However, all of them have cycle tracks, and in addition there are 4 bike/ped-only crossings (3 tunnels, 1 bridge). With 8 low-stress bike crossings over a distance of 3.6 km, the bike network a mesh spacing is only 450 m, or 0.28 miles. This is a very dense mesh that allows bike travel without requiring significant detours. (Consider the barrier effect of freeways in the US – do the roads crossing it have low-stress bike facilities? Are the bike/ped only crossings?)
  13. Krakeelpolderweg – a small commercial area where high turnover parking with bike lanes led to an unsafe situation. Wiki has a good explanation along with photos of the before situation; compare to the new situation. Features include cycle tracks, bus stop details, and a choice for space allocation that left no sidewalk on one side of the street.
  14. Train Station. Items to note:
    1. Trains  plays an enormous role in sustainable transportation by providing the main alternative to cars for long distance trips; allows commuters to/from other Randstad cities. Frequency is almost like a metro – 10 departures per hour in each direction, all day long. Used for errands and shopping, not just work travel.
    2. Main access mode is bicycle; new station will have 7500 parking places here, plus 1500 at Delft South, which amounts to 1 bike parking place per 10 residents. Bikes are used not only on the home end of a rail trip (bike is access mode for 40% of rail trips at the home end) but also at the destination end (12% and growing) as people pick up a bike they’ve stored overnight at the station to get to a workplace that’s 1 or 2 miles away. Many people commute with 2 bikes and a train in between. With bike as an access mode, almost every OD pair in the Randstad can be linked almost as quickly (or quicker) without a car than with one.
    3. Need for 4 tracks to have frequent trains at two speeds (intercity, local) without interference.
    4. Station area plan includes offices and residences (transit oriented development). All of the communities in the Hague’s region have agreed to allow office development only at train stations, and the national focus on new housing is for high density housing near stations. A main reason is that with 2-earner households, many people can’t locate near their work, and the train is the best alternative for long distance commutes.
  15. Westerkwartier (Pootstraat, Westerstraat, etc.),  the first woonerf. See explanation in
  16. Papsauwselaan. Built as a 4-lane road with commerce in the 1960’s under the idea that traffic would always be growing. Converted in the 2000’s to a 2-lane street, with 2-way cycle tracks on each side. Traffic didn’t grow without limit, and the City adopted a different vision, “let’s try to get along with few cars.” The large roundabout replaced a signal-controlled junction. The roundabout offers 3 benefits: better safety, eliminates the need for multiple lanes (because flow is more continous), and provides a place for U-turns, making it possible to add right-in / right-out restrictions that improve safety.
  17. Tanthof, a large suburban expansion designed around the woonerf concept. Built to keep out through traffic, minimize internal car use (permeable barriers make it much easier to get around by bike than by car), disperse traffic over many tiny streets, and prevent speed by having streets turn or end every 75 m (250 ft) or so. See roadside display (for drivers) of how to get into the neighborhood. Easy to get lost; bike routes aren’t very clear, either. Notice how bikes and buses get a direct entry to the neighborhood while cars go around.
  18. Cycle track along Kruithuisweg with train station and bike flyover.
  19. TU Delft – a complicated transportation story with some big mistakes. See

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