Bad road design is everywhere

Apr 16, 2015
Bad road design is everywhere


Hoogeven before
This is the direct cycle route that existed before the redesign in Hoogeveen

An interesting article from earlier this month, about how bad road redesign likely contributed to the death of a Dutch cyclist in Hoogeveen, the Netherlands.

The cyclist was struck by a car and suffered serious injuries. He died the next day in hospital. David Hembrow, an Englishman based in the Netherlands, who writes the blog A View From the Cycle Path (and who spent a good portion of his childhood in South Auckland) was asked to look at the redesign of Edisonstraat in Hoogeveen to see whether this work had contributed to the unfortunate death of this rider.

David’s conclusion was that the redesign was a pivotal reason for this incident and that better design would have prevented this tragedy.

The fatal collision occurred on a part of Edisonstraat where cycle-paths had been removed. If those cycle-paths had not been removed then the same collision could not have happened. Therefore, it is very difficult to come to any conclusion which doesn’t include removal of this safe cycling infrastructure as at the very least a contributory factor.

Hoogeven after
The new design of Edisonstraat forces riders to interact with cars – a familiar situation in NZ

This goes to show that bad street design anywhere in the world jeopardises the well being of road users. Conversely, there is nothing magical about the fact that road users in the Netherlands and Denmark are twice as safe as road users in New Zealand. It is because good quality, safe infrastructure is provided. Where the quality of that infrastructure is compromised, as it was in Hoogeveen, the safety of road users is also compromised.

I will leave the last words to David Hembrow:

Bad cycling infrastructure design isn’t merely an aesthetic problem. It’s not something which matters only to fussy campaigners. Badly designed infrastructure kills people.

Words to design our roads by.

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