Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A Vision Zero Community: Houten

I asked our host Andre Botermans in Houten about their safety record. He answered promptly "Safety is no issue in Houten".
Andre Botermans addressing the PSU-Northeastern University class

He went on to discuss the notion of traffic crashes and he said the following:
"If we're talking about fatalities, we had one (1) fatal of someone on a bicycle in 20 years. A car was involved of course.  There are car fatalities that have occurred on the ring road."

He went on to say that the safety on the bike paths has been increased by removing obstacles. They eliminated 150 bollards where cars were not wanted and it was possible for them to turn, but along the way they have found that the car drivers know not to be on the red asphalt, so these bollards and barriers were unnecessary and proved to be a problem for the youngest and oldest people on bikes.

There are low pedestrian crash rates and no fatalities in the last 20 years because the entire town is a maximum 30 km/hr speed limit (once you leave the ring road which is 70 km/hr). The City has no connector-distributor roads (collectors in the U.S.) other than the ring road because the street network offers a clear definition between that auto specific facility and the community residential streets.

People walking and cycling do not have to mix with freight trucks. The City planners put the working areas outside the ring road. All of the places where trucks may conflict there are separated bicycling facilities. Grade separation may be necessary at times to create the safer conditions (shown below).

The class discussion mentioned as much. One of the groups met with a woman at a park and she said that when her kids left Houten, she had to train them how to ride in a more complicated cycling environment. That sounds a bit extreme, but perhaps supported by Mark Wagenbuur's point that people take some of this as obvious in Holland, but it's very deliberate design that makes this happen.

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