Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Haarlem    

This small city of just 150,000 has the lowest mode split in the country at 10% of all trips by bicycle – exactly Sydney’s aim.   

The main street in Haarlem, starting  from Centraal station, is pedestrianised for much of its length (and Sydney plans to pedestrianise some of George Street).  Shops mostly open late, with loading allowed from 6am to 11am only.  These timed loading areas use retractable bollards to stop vehicles at other times.  Other sections allow cars, but are “Fietsstraat” – a bicycle street that allows cars as guest.  In busy, narrower shopping streets, riding a bicycle is only allowed outside of shopping hours.
“Look out for the rising bollards” – timed loading in the main shopping street

Plenty of parking for customers – in a quiet and pleasant streetscape (but weird trees)
             
Fietsstraat – where the car is guest and must wait behind bicycles.
 Many streets are one way for cars but bicycles are excepted (uitgezonderd)

The streetscape is attractive and conducive to shopping, mostly bustling with people.  
 
                The lane ways running off the main street are residential and very picturesque (notice a cargo trike on the left).

Outside the central area, all arterial roads seem to have either bike lanes, or, more commonly, separated one-way bike paths alongside, with a kerb or median and sometimes also parking, between it and moving traffic.  Arterials in residential areas sometimes have service roads parallel, which provide resident parking, one way access for cars, and a quiet, two-way alternative for bikes (in addition to the adjacent main road cycle track or lane).  Backstreets are traffic calmed and 30kph, often one way for cars and always two way for bikes, though rarely marked with a contraflow lane.  


This median also serves as passenger disembarkation for the bus stop.

Yes, it rained most days in the Netherlands.  Thank goodness for riding capes.
             
Residential streets commonly have no specific markings but are mostly one way for cars and two way for bikes.
Along this residential street different paving was used at intervals. Not sure why and it didn't seem to be anywhere else.
The hardest part about getting around initially was just remembering to stay on the right side of the road – requiring a strategy of following other riders randomly so that I always had a guide to keep me on the correct side.  Bike numbers in the inner area seem high, so perhaps the low mode split is reflected more in the outer areas.  Traffic is very patient and courteous.  It feels weird, after Sydney riding, to get used to the fact that the cars indicating to turn across your path will indeed always see you, and always wait.  Amazing and wonderful. 
This sign was in a few places and made me feel cautious, but drivers seemed unfailingly careful and courteous.

The photos above don’t convey the sheer numbers of bikes around.  This blogger has the unfortunate trait of feeling uncomfortable photographing people.  So, to describe: in the town centre there is a constant flow of bike traffic and at the arterial intersection near our hotel, outside the centre, there still seem to be more bikes than cars, and at all times of day.

As always in Holland, the sheer variety in riders and attire is an absorbing subject for many hours of observation, but better captured by others such as this photostream by Amsterdamize.  

Next stop: Utrecht



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