1. Clarifying cyclists’ position in a bicycle street by axial lines
Haarlem, Venkelstraat, bicycle street. A survey revealed that on this bicycle street the relative positions of bicycles and motor vehicles were not clear to everyone. Cyclists regularly swerved towards the brick strip and some motorists even ‘honked’ the cyclists off the red asphalt. Axial lines and signs are to clarify the situation.
2. Location and intensities
Venkelstraat consists of a north-south and an east-west part. The north-south stretch has been converted to a bicycle street. Cyclists, among them many school-age children, use this stretch to travel from Haarlem-Zuid to the town centre. Bicycle intensities are almost double those of cars.
3. Old situation
In the old situation Venkelstraat was a standard residential street: approx. 4.5 metres wide, bricks and 30 km/h speed bumps. Nowhere did it show that this was a principal bicycle route. A positive factor for bicycle traffic was the fact that cars parked only in the parking spaces, not in the street. There were no safety issues.
4. The bicycle street
Late in 2005 the north-south stretch of Venkelstraat was converted into bicycle street. In the middle an approx. 3 metre-wide red asphalt lane has been installed. To both sides lie brick strips of asphalt with street print, each at least 75 cm wide. In case of oncoming traffic, cars may swerve to a brick strip. The 30 km/h speed bumps have been replaced by asphalt bumps.
On the intersections the bicycle street has priority, as indicated by the sign in the picture. The red bicycle street lane continues intact over the intersection. This emphasises the priority regime.
Several months after opening, interviews were conducted among cyclists and motorists. The majority of users is (highly) satisfied with the bicycle street. Yet almost half of all motorists feel it is insufficiently clear that cyclists are the principal users. A large number of cyclists also confirm making way when a car approaches.
It should however be emphasised that these interviews are not quite representative due to the limited study population (school children and local residents) that had been familiar with the situation for some time.
The most important conclusion is therefore that the positions of cyclists and motorists are not sufficiently clear. To wit: cyclists on the red lane and cars behind the bicycles. Motorists may only pass when there is no oncoming traffic.
Common suggestions are application of bike symbols and axial lines on the road. In addition, respondents prefer the sign ‘Bicycle street, car is guest’ (fietsstraat, auto te gast). It should be remarked, however, that many respondents were already familiar with this sign.
8. Axial lines and signs
In order to emphasise the meaning of the bicycle street, axial lines and the signs Bicycle street, car is guest have been introduced in September of 2006. It was decided not to apply bike symbols as the street would then no longer be legally accessible to cars. No follow-up evaluation has been conducted, but the impression is users are (even) more positive than before.