With 55,000 students in a total population of 200,000, the city of Groningen is truly a student town. Over 20,000 students come to the campus every day, either by bus or on a bike, from the city or from the train stations.
There is only one route, which is quickly congested. Hence the city’s attempts to spread bicycle traffic, with special campaigns at the beginning of the academic year aimed at tempting cyclists to take alternative, ‘smart’ routes.
So far, the results have been disappointing. The city has now approached the students themselves and asked them to come up with ideas. After extensive investigations, the Student Advisory Committee (SAC) has come up with a great number of recommendations for the infrastructure and communication of Smart routes.
The first thing that struck the students was the lack of uniformity in the marking of the routes. Different backgrounds, colours, priority situations and haphazard lighting all contribute to a confusing traffic situation. Other advice:
- On monotonous routes, ‘creative decoration’ can contribute to a more positive experience;
- In places where there are more cyclists than other forms of traffic, the cyclists should have the most space;
- Bicycle parking facilities at Groningen’s railway station should be more easily accessible to students arriving by bus. When arriving on a regional bus, it is so easy to change to a local bus that travelling students do not even see the bicycle as an alternative;
- There should be clear and consistent information about bus travel times, and about how crowded the buses are. This information should be available in the bicycle parking.
- There is a need for clear and consistent signposts leading to the bicycle parking and to the bike routes.
The final recommendation from the students is that the city of Groningen should present itself as a ‘City of Cycling Talent’ or ‘Bike City Groningen wants YOU on your bicycle’.