Cambridge Cycling Campaign goes to Groningen

In September 1997, 11 members of Cambridge Cycling Campaign spent a weekend in the Dutch city of Groningen, to gain an understanding of why it has such a high number of cyclists, and to get ideas and inspiration for Cambridge.

Here’s what we saw:

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Cambridge Trishaws took us to Cambridge airport on our way.

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We nowhere saw cyclists put onto the pavement with pedestrians. Typically cycle tracks are provided between the pavement and the car parking.

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Many roads have such paths along both sides.

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Groningen limits where cars can go. They have a low tech equivalent of the Bridge Street barriers in which cars (which have a narrower wheelbase than buses) come to serious grief on these concrete blocks. Of course, taxis can’t get through.

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The market busy on Saturday afternoon has many of the same problems that Cambridge does, but has not yet banned bikes.

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Cyclists get priority when crossing side roads, on nearly all occasions. The side road here is a bus route, so not just a minor road.

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Motorists do respect the priority of cycles on crossing cycle tracks – though we were very cautious of taking advantage of this at first. The white triangles are the Dutch “give way” lines.

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There is a 4km cycle track running parallel with the railway, here immediately outside Groningen station.

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Smooth curves carry the cycle tracks, here crossing a dedicated bridge over a stream. No right angle turns here.

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There are only a few cycle lanes like this one.

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There are many cycle lights. These have their own phase, but the sign means that the green is for cyclists in all four directions at once.

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It is apparently legal to carry an extra person “side-saddle” on the sturdy rear carriers of the ubiquitous Dutch roadsters.

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Cycle parking is not as plentiful on the street in the City Centre as we expected, though for 1 guilder (about 35p) a day you can leave your bike at the station in a huge, staffed covered cycle park.

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There are suburban staffed covered cycle parking areas too, as here at a big supermarket.

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At this junction where the road narrows, the cycle track gets priority over the cars where they meet. No give way lines on a dropped kerb off the pavement at right angles to the road for Groningen.

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Nearly all bikes look identical in Groningen; well almost all.

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The City Centre is surrounded by canals. From the little boat in the bottom left, it appears those canals are full of bicycles!