Video: How The Dutch Design Multi-Use Intersections

How do we create safer streets for cyclists, pedestrians, and drivers? Check out how the dutch make “complete streets” with minimal infrastructure changes.

Thanks to Dale Brown for the tip.

Comments

Collin - 09/28/13 - 9:28am

I like it minus the green paint. That can be super slick in the rain.

Gunther - 09/28/13 - 10:56am

This might look very promising and better than the American system BUT there’s also a drawback.

If a cyclist wants to go straight on, and a car is turning right … a lot of accidents happen.. the blind spot.

So no, the Dutch solution isn’t THE solution ;-)

Jeremy M - 09/28/13 - 11:10am

Well, this stands a good chance of drawing some rabid comments from both sides. Good video with a good explanation. I’m actually a fan of this setup, but honestly it does require 1) the separate and timed lights mentioned, 2) sufficient inner-city density to make it necessary and efficient, and 3) proper/adequate driver training teaching Observation(!) and that training put to practice. Have all that and this is an excellent example of good infrastructure. (There are many out there who disagree…strongly.)

The problem is that the implementation of something good like this that can work well for everyone is a longshot in the US. First, bike infrastructure is often designed and constructed by the lowest contract bidder (you get what you pay for!). Second, density and general public support lags places like Europe. And lastly, the best designed infrastructure (or none at all) can never overcome distracted, under/non-trained, aggressive drivers.

Ploutre - 09/28/13 - 12:15pm

This is a solution that just doesn’t apply in the rest of the world. The Dutch have been riding bicycles for years and it’s part of their culture. In the rest of the world, most of the time bicycles are just annoying bits on the road… It’s not the road you have to change, but the people, the way the drive (the cars as well as the bicycles ! so many times I’ve seen bikes crossing at red lights, changing lane randomly, …), and that is just a bit lot harder …

earlybird - 09/28/13 - 12:55pm

We do roundabouts instead of intersections.

Rohan - 09/28/13 - 1:00pm

@Gunther actually if the cyclist wants to go straight on and the car wants to turn to the right than the cyclist needs to extend his left arm signaling that he is going left which he is.
The thing is and I agree with this on @Poultre the Dutch, I am one, have been cycling all our lives we don’t know any better. All the drivers in our country know these rules and adhere to them. Except BMW drivers ;)
Could this work anywhere else? Well I’ve seen it work in other countries too so why not. But it demands a change in attitude. If that doesn’t happen then forget about it.

Champs - 09/28/13 - 1:12pm

What works in Holland, LA, or Seattle isn’t necessarily applicable in Poland, Chico, or Spokane. You can’t plow for this.

I’m none too clear about what happens for non-turning traffic, either. Where do I wait at a red light? The traffic to my left that has the light would have something to say about me waiting behind that extra curb, directly in their path. Right-turning traffic might not be enthusiastic about waiting for people to navigate around this diversion, too. It sounds like you need mode-specific signals to give bikes and pedis a head start, but then in that case you can just slap a “no turn on red” sign on the light and just about call it a day.

Rico - 09/28/13 - 2:00pm

Americans in general are way too stupid, impatient and selfish for this. The only solution in America is automated cars. And there could be a privelidge license for manual cars that carries a 125+ IQ score and extensive road test. This place is too far gone.

Rico - 09/28/13 - 2:35pm

Hey Rico, peace up, yo!

The Dutch have a society where conformity is valued highly. The US does not. Bicyclists in the US see themselves as a distinct element in the traffic; Dutch riders see themselves as an integral part of it. When the majority of American cyclists signal their turns and obey stoplights and signs, we will have come a long way toward the Dutch model.

And BTW, that green paint needs to go. It interferes when you are filming downtown scenes. (I live in LA.)

rico - 09/28/13 - 3:46pm

Haha LA Rico I should not be so harsh. I am american too, but I guess 35 years biking here gets you jaded towards the road hogging masses. Nevermind the cell phone factor, I won’t even go there. But I also ride in central and eastern europe and there is just a better awareness, understanding and appreciation of cyclists over there. I seriously think that the things in the US are designed more around making things more convenient for “consumers” (with the goal being that they consume more). That means roads are for autos, fast food, malls, etc. The roads don’t even have shoulders at all where I live in the north east. Colorado, oregon and CA are exceptions, more fit people, forward thinking, green, etc. I live in the land of Dunkin Donuts and scratch ticket trashbags.

Jonas - 09/28/13 - 4:08pm

I would hate this design. If you want to go straight you need to ride two s-bends and stop in between instead of just following the traffic. We have one intersection like this in our region, and maximum 50% of the riders I see use the bike lane there because it just slows you down. Turning left is even worse. Turning 5 times and stopping twice in the process instead of just one turn and no or one stop? No thanks.
I think such solutions are discriminating cyclists, especially those who want to get from a to B as fast as possible. At least they should be given the option of riding such intersections the way that makes sense.
I knever understood the concept of 4-way stop intersections in the US. Just give one road priority and everything is easier and traffic more fluid.

Dutchman - 09/28/13 - 5:38pm

Guess this video is a bit outdated. Busy crossings have traffic lights, less busy ones have been changed into roundabouts.

BTW: green paint is almost never used, grippy red coloured tarmac is. Dutch cyclist don’t do helmets and don’t use turnsignals either. We do ignore most traffic lights.

kottjn - 09/28/13 - 7:03pm

This is pretty much the same way as they prefer to do it in China, too.

Fredie T. - 09/28/13 - 11:04pm

Here’s an video from a Dutch guy on some of the differences between US and Dutch riders. It kind of sheds some light on why American cyclists might not like this type of design. A lot of riders here want to go fast and don’t want to be bothered by having to slow up for a little chicane in the bike lane. In my home town, cyclists have gotten so bad at running red lights, stop signs and racing up the right side of traffic, the local PD has started ticketing heavily. Silly college kids.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m2THe_10dYs

from Dallas, TX - 09/29/13 - 11:15am

Certainly, the success of any system will hinge on the attitude and awareness of those who use it as much as it does on it’s design — whether you’re on 4 wheels, 2 wheels, or none. And sadly, idiocy does not correlate to what vehicle one is (or isn’t) piloting…

I love the food for thought value of this post! For the US, where we have a lot of room to grow in cycling infrastructure, we do well to examine how all societies who are further down this road do it — it’s our chance to learn from the experience of others. Here in Dallas, TX, we have a surprisingly large number of people who love riding bikes — with comparatively little infrastructure to support it. Although to be fair, that is changing slowly but surely here! Kudos to those here and everywhere who are working to drive this sort of change.

It seems the big catch 22 is: as cyclists in America, you have to have density to get consideration for safety in infrastructure (understandably, as this comes with a price tag) — but the perception of safety risk due to existing lack of infrastructure works to limit the density that would help effect that change. Kudos to those who are taking the risk — and riding responsibly — that are helping to drive this change in America.

El Guapo - 09/30/13 - 4:41pm

Cycling should just be done on a lighter second tier level, dedicated to cycling. No issues with traffic between the two. Plus it’d block that sun from hitting drivers eyes! So it might cost a little bit, but small price to pay when you are trying to be the best.

Mark - 10/01/13 - 2:45am

I am Dutch, but I have never seen a crossing like this. The picture is right, except for the S-corner the cyclists have to make. The cycling path is always straight over the crossing.

It works fine without these strange S-curves since the cyclist has the right of way versus a car driver that wants to turn right. Cyclists are well protected by Dutch law.

Chet Bredwell - 10/01/13 - 3:34pm

That’s fine for Dutch roads with Dutch drivers, who have their own values and idiosyncracies.

American drivers are spoiled, entitled, selfish and aggressive. Watch any 4-way stop sign intersection and see how American drivers can’t be trusted to be thoughtful and considerate. It’s always a race to see who can blast through. Can’t be bothered to yield to the driver on the right. Everyone’s in a hurry — and selfishly, aggressively so.

This Dutch design won’t fix that aggressive, selfish, hurried mentality.

Hell, American towns & cities even have difficulty sharing ideas with one another. My town tried to borrow Portland OR ideas, and they went over like a lead balloon.

Solutions need to be localized to the local driver mentality.

Post a comment:

Comment sections can be a beautiful source of knowledge, conversation and comedy. They can also get pretty ugly, which is why we've updated our Comments Policy. If your comment isn't showing up or suddenly disappears, you might want to check it out.