Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 14th Oct 2017 13:08 UTC
In the News

Some years ago, already working in 'active transport', and seeking to deepen my understanding around urban design, I took the opportunity to take a family holiday for a week in the Netherlands. Among many many reactions to the experience, one big one I experienced was simply surprise that nobody had told me about most of the amazing things I'd see.

I've been meaning simply to write a list of these amazing things for years now. Unfortunately I'm not all that sure that there is any way to convey the 'amazingness' to those who haven't visited.

The Netherlands is one of the most - if not the most - densely populated western countries, which forced urban planners to get creative. Growing up and living in The Netherlands it's easy to take for granted just how good we are at traffic and urban design. That is, until you take a trip abroad to pretty much any other country - even our beloved neighbours like Germany or Belgium - and realise just how terrible everyone else is at properly segmenting and protecting cyclists and pedestrians, even in densely populated and tightly packed cities.

Urban design is a fascinating subject, and once you start paying attention to it here in The Netherlands, you'll discover an endless array of affordances to protect cyclists, pedestrians, and cars (yes!), while also creating neighbourhoods that usually have only one entry/exit point for cars so they can't be used for through traffic, all designed with the goal of corralling cars away from where people actually live.

I often wonder - will this make The Netherlands a haven for self-driving cars, or a hell?

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But Thom...
by hardcode57 on Sat 14th Oct 2017 15:43 UTC
hardcode57
Member since:
2014-06-02

think of the possibilities for the self-driving bicycle!

Reply Score: 6

So you're saying...
by leech on Sat 14th Oct 2017 17:07 UTC
leech
Member since:
2006-01-10

They are really good at SimCity? ;)

Would love to travel to the Netherlands one of these days. I'm fairly certain the people designing roads in Utah should be dragged out into the street and publicly urinated upon. And for the love of god, get rid of the damn round abouts, no one in the USA knows how to use them properly and all it does is confuse old people.

Reply Score: 2

RE: So you're saying...
by ssokolow on Sun 15th Oct 2017 05:13 UTC in reply to "So you're saying..."
ssokolow Member since:
2010-01-21

Not quite.

SimCity is more of a game about high-level urban planning and only one of the four types of these simulations I've identified. The other three being:

1. Transporation simulators like Transport Tycoon Deluxe (see OpenTTD or Simutrans for free ones), where you operate as an inter-city business rather than a government. (eg. no modification of cities, inter-city scope, etc.)

2. Public Transit simulators like Cities in Motion and Mini Metro where you're doing things like route-planning within a single city you can't modify.

3. Road Network Planning games. This is a subgenre I've yet to see any proper entries in, and it'd be what this would be an expression of.

...though, judging by the level of customization in how road-laying is handled in early demo videos of an in-development game named Citybound ( http://cityboundsim.com/ ), it seems like the closest thus far.

(The key difference to the last one being that you'd get to choose all the fine details, such as types of interchanges, highway on/off-ramp designs, assignment of special purpose lanes, etc. You'd be surprised how many interesting ideas are implemented in only certain parts of the world that you've never been to.)

Edited 2017-10-15 05:17 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE: So you're saying...
by zima on Sun 15th Oct 2017 13:21 UTC in reply to "So you're saying..."
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

And for the love of god, get rid of the damn round abouts, no one in the USA knows how to use them properly and all it does is confuse old people.

Roundabouts are safer, probably because they are "confusing" - so drivers pay more attention.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: So you're saying...
by Kochise on Sun 15th Oct 2017 14:38 UTC in reply to "RE: So you're saying..."
Kochise Member since:
2006-03-03

Flat roundabout are OK, the "decorated" ones aren't, because by obscuring you the view of the opposite side, it prevent you from anticipating. And you can mess a roundabout just as well.

From the country with the most roundabout.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: So you're saying...
by leech on Sun 15th Oct 2017 19:09 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: So you're saying..."
leech Member since:
2006-01-10

Flat roundabout are OK, the "decorated" ones aren't, because by obscuring you the view of the opposite side, it prevent you from anticipating. And you can mess a roundabout just as well.

From the country with the most roundabout.


Thousand times this! The roundabouts I keep seeing around here all have these huge decorative walls in the center, so if you're going one way, you can't see the oncoming cars coming from the other direction. If they didn't have this large, pointless thing obscuring your vision, it'd be a lot better. It's also the Yield vs Stop that is annoying.

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: So you're saying...
by zima on Sat 21st Oct 2017 18:09 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: So you're saying..."
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Stats don't lie, roundabouts are safer - even if many/most(?) obscure the vision of the other direction (which I doubt to be a factor, rules of traffic on the roundabouts concern only cars which are already on the roundabout...)

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: So you're saying...
by lighans on Mon 16th Oct 2017 09:28 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: So you're saying..."
lighans Member since:
2006-01-14

Totally agree.
Don't forget the advertorials in the middle of a roundabout... Sigh

Reply Score: 0

RE[2]: So you're saying...
by lighans on Mon 16th Oct 2017 09:27 UTC in reply to "RE: So you're saying..."
lighans Member since:
2006-01-14

As an European guy, I can confuse American car drivers at a stop and drive crossing. Buy stopping very quickly and put on the gas fast.

I think that European can learn something from the relaxed driving of American people.

Except for cyclist. English and American people are not used to see them as a way of transportation and cut and curse with big dangers.

Reply Score: 0

RE[3]: So you're saying...
by Kochise on Mon 16th Oct 2017 18:17 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: So you're saying..."
Kochise Member since:
2006-03-03
Comment by BeamishBoy
by BeamishBoy on Sat 14th Oct 2017 19:00 UTC
BeamishBoy
Member since:
2010-10-27

The Netherlands is one of the most - if not the most - densely populated western countries


Only one of the most. England and Malta both have higher population densities.

Reply Score: 6

Excellent question
by JoshuaS on Sat 14th Oct 2017 22:45 UTC
JoshuaS
Member since:
2011-09-15

I only dabble in machine learning, but I think the situation of the Netherlands is neutral for self-driving cars. The parameters of the underlying distributions of the statistical decision making schemes will probably have to be tweaked, but all in all given that your circulation plans are in the information systems there should be no real problems.

Reply Score: 4

Comment by p13.
by p13. on Sun 15th Oct 2017 06:12 UTC
p13.
Member since:
2005-07-10

As a Belgian, i can say there is truth to this. Their traffic management is top notch. A good example of this is the "green wave" system, where all traffic lights will always be green if you drive the correct speed, thus rewarding you, the driver, so you have an incentive to stick to the speed limit, all the while improving the flow of traffic and increasing safety.

However ... the residential areas in .nl are friggin WEIRD. One entry, one exit, super narrow everywhere ... makes me think what if there's a fire? What if they need to evacuate? Doesn't really do anything for safety ... You could still drive like an idiot ...

But yes ... The Dutch are practical, pragmatic, down to earth people with a lot of common sense. They have a no-nonsense approach to a lot of things.

I like to spend time in .nl
It's just a nice place to be.
It's safe, clean and well organized.

Now if only they weren't so goddamn loud ... :-D

Reply Score: 7

RE: Comment by p13.
by Lennie on Mon 16th Oct 2017 19:20 UTC in reply to "Comment by p13."
Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

I like to spend time in .nl
It's just a nice place to be.
It's safe, clean and well organized.

Now if only they weren't so goddamn loud ... :-D


I kind of expected for you to write it like this:

It's just a nice place to .be

Ohh well. :-)

And thanks for the compliments, I think ?

OK, I'm just going to ask: could you maybe give an example of the Dutch being loud, I'd love to know what you mean with that.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by p13.
by p13. on Mon 16th Oct 2017 19:31 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by p13."
p13. Member since:
2005-07-10

Hi,

Yes, they most certainly are compliments?

What do i mean by saying the Dutch are loud? Well ... they are loud ;)
Make a lot of noise, not very soft spoken, etc.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Comment by p13.
by Lennie on Mon 16th Oct 2017 21:36 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by p13."
Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

As someone from the east of the country, you most be talking about those in the west.

Those Hollanders. ;-)

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: Comment by p13.
by zima on Tue 17th Oct 2017 21:52 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by p13."
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Interesting... I take it that "Hollanders", in Dutch, refers only to people from the west of Netherlands? Because in Polish, "Holendrzy" refers to all Dutch people... ;)

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Comment by p13.
by Z_God on Wed 18th Oct 2017 06:39 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by p13."
Z_God Member since:
2006-06-11

Of course Holendrzy and Hollanders are the same. Originally both referred to people living in Holland, nowadays two provinces North- and South-Holland in the Netherlands.

Hollands is also the dialect of Dutch that is spoken in most of the Netherlands however. This opposed to Flemish which is spoken in Belgium. Because in general the whole country speaks Hollands, at some point people started referring to the whole country as Holland (Holandia) even though the Netherlands (Niderlandy) is more correct. In Dutch itself we switched to the singular form.

Reply Score: 1

I'm sorry Thom, but...
by cltang on Sun 15th Oct 2017 06:55 UTC
cltang
Member since:
2005-10-31

...you have seen nothing 'dense' unless you've been to East Asia, pick any major city ;)

Reply Score: 5

RE: I'm sorry Thom, but...
by Lennie on Mon 16th Oct 2017 19:27 UTC in reply to "I'm sorry Thom, but..."
Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

While I agree on the sentiment, for a country the Netherlands is actually listed pretty high on density world wide.

But yes, there are much more dense cities world wide than the densest cities in the Netherlands.

The Netherlands comes in at spot 30 world wide:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_and_territories_by_p...

Reply Score: 3

Huh.
by judgen on Sun 15th Oct 2017 13:50 UTC
judgen
Member since:
2006-07-12

Beloved and Belgium in the same sentence. Now i have truly seen it all.

Reply Score: 2

v Comment by model500
by model500 on Sun 15th Oct 2017 19:42 UTC
lighans
Member since:
2006-01-14

No.

Selfdriving cars are invented by people driving cars. The car has no idea how to handle smaller objects like cycles and pedestrians. And to add that odd behaviour is not well anticipated, makes them a horrible invention. Maybe in the future, with better AI.

Self driving bikes: I always drive my bike myself. ;)

Reply Score: 0

Bicycles are impractical here. Get over it.
by aliver on Mon 16th Oct 2017 13:42 UTC
aliver
Member since:
2011-03-19

It snows here often. Bikes are not practical in a meter of snow, not to mention the fact that they lack heating. There is also the small problem of being run over by cars, and joining a group of spandex twerking annoying elitist bicyclists riding at 1/3 the speed limit in lanes made for cars. I'm not going to ride a bike no matter how good for me *you* think it is. I don't want to and I personally think they look stupid. You Europeans can *keep* your freakin' bike-cities, and the attitude that goes with them. I'll keep driving, much to your chagrin. I've been to the Netherlands (rains a lot). I'll pass, thanks.

Reply Score: 1

Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

Have some coffee, man. You sound a bit grumpy.

Reply Score: 3

Kochise Member since:
2006-03-03

I've been to the US (hurricanes, fires, snows, whatever a lot). I'll pass, thanks.

Reply Score: 4

JLF65 Member since:
2005-07-06

Don't forget tornadoes. The US has more tornadoes than the rest of the world combined... about FIVE TIMES as many as the rest of the world. If you combine the US and Canada, it's ELEVEN TIMES the rest of the world combined.

Reply Score: 2

darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

And don't forget being surrounded by a group of elitist prigs who think they're better than anyone else just because they happen to be born in the USA. I was born here and I hate the attitude which is prevalent in most of this darned country!

Reply Score: 2

StephenBeDoper Member since:
2005-07-06

It snows here often. Bikes are not practical in a meter of snow,

Err, neither are the vast majority of cars - unless they have chains on their tires.

not to mention the fact that they lack heating.

Take off ya hoser - where's your toque, eh?

There is also the small problem of being run over by cars, and joining a group of spandex twerking annoying elitist bicyclists riding at 1/3 the speed limit in lanes made for cars.

"One of the biggest hazards you can face on the road is hydro-planing on the tears of crybaby drivers bitching about cyclists."
- Maddox, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1MQakN4-emA

Reply Score: 3

JLF65 Member since:
2005-07-06

I don't think chain will help with a METER of snow. Nothing will but a plow. The issue is that often even after plowing, there's still enough snow/ice/slush on the road that anything less than a car is going to have a rough time. Of course, many of the car drivers will have a rough time as well.

The biggest issue with biking isn't the weather, it's the facilities available at work/school/wherever you biked to. If the place is far enough away (and it WILL be in the US with our wide open spaces), you'll work up a good sweat, even in cold weather (forget about a hot summer day). You'll get to work/school/wherever... and then what? Walk around in sweaty clothes all day? Workplaces that encourage employees to bike have homes nearby, and showers and lockers on site so that biking employees can get clean and ready to work. The VAST majority of employers will maybe have a bathroom with a sink. You're stuck taking a sponge bath and leaving your change of clothes in the employee lounge (if there is one) and hoping no one steals your clothes/biking gear. So unless special biker facilities are available (and there's not 99.9999% of the time), it's not feasible to bike to work/wherever in the US.

Reply Score: 1

lighans Member since:
2006-01-14

You are right about biking facilities. And they never will be there if there is no need for it. It looks like a circle.

The fear for car drivers is also an essential part. There are some really scary guys out there in their big RamVan, who think they own the road. Also they see a difference between a person in a car and a person on a bike. Nearly like they tend to make a difference between coloured or white people...

(note: although I live in Europe, I read a lot of RT of this guys in Uk en USA)

Reply Score: 1

zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Don't pretend that, in most of the bicycling-world, people have the luxury of a shower after their trip to work... Yet somehow they menage fine.

Perhaps, once resources get scarcer, the US will simply have to abandon some of its unsustainable ways...

Reply Score: 3

StephenBeDoper Member since:
2005-07-06

I don't think chain will help with a METER of snow. Nothing will but a plow.


Oh yeah - I grew up in fairly remote, rural area where it's not uncommon to wait 2-3 days to be plowed out after a winter storm (I literally have a video around somewhere of a tractor with chains on its tires getting stuck in the ditch, because the road was practically a skating rink), so I tend to take "having a plow" (or at least a vehicle that can be fitted with a plow) as a given.

The issue is that often even after plowing, there's still enough snow/ice/slush on the road that anything less than a car is going to have a rough time. Of course, many of the car drivers will have a rough time as well.


It's not fun, but it's doable with proper tires (I rode all through one winter with a road bike & definitely would NOT recommend it). The biggest problems I've had with winter cycling is the huge volume of snow in the city where I live, combined with not-great snow removal - side streets are typically down to 1-lane by mid-January, major streets often only have the sidewalk plowed on one side (and the ones that are plowed end up resembling trenches more than sidewalks). That, and the fact that it sometimes get cold enough here to freeze chain lubricant.

The biggest issue with biking isn't the weather, it's the facilities available at work/school/wherever you biked to. If the place is far enough away (and it WILL be in the US with our wide open spaces), you'll work up a good sweat, even in cold weather (forget about a hot summer day). You'll get to work/school/wherever... and then what? Walk around in sweaty clothes all day? Workplaces that encourage employees to bike have homes nearby, and showers and lockers on site so that biking employees can get clean and ready to work. The VAST majority of employers will maybe have a bathroom with a sink. You're stuck taking a sponge bath and leaving your change of clothes in the employee lounge (if there is one) and hoping no one steals your clothes/biking gear. So unless special biker facilities are available (and there's not 99.9999% of the time), it's not feasible to bike to work/wherever in the US.


That I can definitely relate to. I do on-site tech support calls fairly regularly and often end up taking the bus instead, though fortunately the buses here all have bike racks so that I can at least ride on the way back.

Reply Score: 2

MacTO Member since:
2006-09-21

Different people have different perspectives. I live in a snowy North American city where the streets are well plowed and almost everything people need are within 15 minutes on bike. In other words, cycling is the most practical way to get around year round. At least for some people.

As for competition over the roads, that was a mistake in design. If cities were designed properly in the first place, there would have been very little contention. Motorists and cyclist could have coexisted without one group imposing on the other. Indeed, there probably wouldn't be sides in the argument since a lot of people would switch modes of transportation based upon what they were doing on a given day.

Reply Score: 2

zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Yes, bikes and cars don't have to exclude each other. I even have this idea about carrying in the trunk of a car a... folding bike, so you can go by car to some ~distant city but once there move around by bike. A variant of hub-and-spokes transportation model, sort of.

Who knows, perhaps one day car manufacturers would even add a folding bike as a bonus when buying their car... Just now I've seen in this article an ad promoting the use of bikes in autumn by... Skoda auto ( https://www.welovecycling.com/pl/?utm_source=programmatic&utm_conten... ), so it isn't far-fetched.

edit: anf from this site, it seems that Skoda has a full offer of bikes, of which I didn't know about... ( https://skoda-wlc.s3.amazonaws.com/5/2017/07/WWW_skoda_katalog_rower... ) there's even a folding bike, StretchGO, in the description of which there's specifically mentioned keeping it in the trunk of a car, so "my" idea definately has a life of its own already... ;)

Edited 2017-10-21 18:27 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Problems
by Z_God on Tue 17th Oct 2017 21:12 UTC
Z_God
Member since:
2006-06-11

It's difficult for me to compare with other countries, because I mainly lived in the Netherlands, but of course in the Netherlands it's not great everywhere either.

First of all Amsterdam is famous for having too many cyclists in the city center. In most city centers in the Netherlands, biking is not allowed when most shops are open and when there are crowds. (It is no problem to just walk with your bicycle.) In Amsterdam there are many busy parts where cycling somehow seems allowed and cyclists are even ringing their bells trying to get through the crowds. Even most Dutch people do not understand why cycling is allowed such areas.

Second we have roads which are unfortunately not as safe as we'd like. Recently a girl was assaulted on the road that I bike to work daily. This is uncommon enough to have been all over the news. Large parts of the street lighting are not working in this street and the spot where she might have been assaulted is quite dark even with the current lighting which is working there.

Of course there are also still areas here which lack the proper management that's described in the article, even in cities which have a university that offers Civil Traffic Engineering as a bachelor+master.

Maybe such problems are minor and foreigners will consider it being spoiled, but I'd like to make it clear that Dutch people still think there's a lot that could be improved.

Reply Score: 1