There was a small bit of back-and-forth in the comments under my piece about attitudes to ‘surrendering’ the roads in UK cycling campaigning, principally about the usefulness of the Hierarchy of Provision, and its advice (albeit listed last) to
Convert pedestrian routes to shared use
I think that advice is deeply unhelpful, no matter where it is listed in the Hierarchy, because it gives councils and authorities licence to put cyclists on pavements that were designed, first and foremost, for pedestrian use, without considering how that might affect the safety and convenience of both pedestrians and cyclists (this is just one of several serious problems with the Hierarchy). You end up, at best, with this sort of thing-
A pavement with ambiguous priority, ambiguous legality of two-way cycling, and ambiguity over where pedestrians and cyclists should be.
Carlton Reid disagreed slightly with the position that I and several others were taking on the Hierarchy of Provision, arguing that
If an item is at the bottom of a list I think that signals that it’s not to be considered until, you know, last.
If a crappy cycle lane is one that’s just striped with paint, which pedestrians can access, UK isn’t alone at having these. Striping with paint is normal in the Netherlands, as your link [this link] shows. I’ve also cycled in the Netherlands, on family cycle tours and on cycle infra tours, and have ridden on plenty of NL cycle paths that are just paint. [my emphasis]
The argument being both that the Hierarchy isn’t at fault, and also that the Dutch do precisely the same thing that we do; simply striping out cycle lanes with paint alongside ‘provision’ for pedestrians.
I pointed out that the photographs of Dutch infrastructure included in that link (by Pedestrianise London) don’t actually show the separation of pedestrians and cyclists with just paint, as Carlton seemed to be arguing, to which he responded
I wasn’t referring *only* to those pix. It was a wider point referring to the fact that the Netherlands sometimes uses paint for cycle infrastructure, of which there are many examples that aren’t too dissimilar to the sort of infra that gets (rightly) disparaged in the UK because it’s not part of a grander whole. Clearly, much infra in the Netherlands is wonderful – separated, kerbed etc etc – but there’s a lot that just works cos it’s systemically understood that the white lines should be considered as brick walls. [my emphasis again]
Again, the implication is that the Dutch sometimes employ ‘Hierarchy-like’ solutions, and do things, effectively, just as badly as we do, with a stripe of paint separating pedestrians from cyclists, just like in the picture above. Apparently the reason this works well in the Netherlands, and not over here, is because of cultural understanding.
I’m not so sure any of this is true.
The Dutch are meticulous about clarity and separation. Even where cycle tracks are built sympathetically with the surrounding environment, it is quite clear what is a cycle track, and what is pavement.
And the usual arrangement of a cycle track beside a pavement is, of course, again scrupulously clear, with different materials, different colouring, and different levels. It could not be more obvious.
The reason for this clarity is, I would have thought, blindingly obvious.
The Dutch do not build shared use routes.
They build cycle tracks, and provide pavements alongside those cycle tracks. They treat bicycle users and walkers separately, and don’t try to shoehorn them both into the same design solution. The Dutch do not stripe pavements and expect pedestrians to keep on one side of the line, and cyclists on the other. They design properly.
There are, of course, areas where pedestrian demand is very low indeed in the Netherlands. These are rural areas, or areas right on the outskirts of town and cities, where people will either drive to the nearest town, or cycle. It makes no sense to walk distances of half a mile or more when the cycling infrastructure is so good and can accommodate all types of cycling. In these areas – and only in these areas – will you find this kind of arrangement –
This is two-way cycle track alongside a road through a village just outside the city of Assen. As you can see, there is no pavement for pedestrians here, but this is not an oversight; there aren’t enough pedestrians to justify providing a pavement. The cycle track – with suitably low bicycle traffic – is perfectly adequate to walk on for short trips within the village. If demand were higher, or there were more cyclists using this path, then a pavement – with the clear separation seen in the earlier photographs – would be provided.
Because this is a cycle track, and not a pavement, it is designed like a cycle track across side roads, and at junctions.
Another example of a two-way cycle track, without a pavement – Very few people will be walking to an industrial park some 3 to 4 miles outside the city, and with low demand on the cycle track itself, it is perfectly adequate for walking. If there were plenty of people walking on this route, then a separate pavement would be provided.
These are routes that are ‘shared’, but not in the way we understand ‘shared use’ in the UK. They are effectively roads for bicycles which are perfectly adequate for walking on (and indeed are probably better for walking on than typical UK pavements, given that they are direct, smooth and level, particularly at junctions).
Even in cities, of course, you will find people occasionally walking in cycle tracks. These aren’t just confused tourists; they will be people trying to get past a temporary obstruction on the pavement (a crowd of people, for instance). The cycle track is not sacrosanct. But occasional incursions into cycle tracks do not matter, because of the width and quality of the tracks themselves.
The Dutch create separate space for people to walk and cycle in, respectively, and clearly demarcate it – not just with white paint, but with kerbing, level differences, different colours and different materials. They do not use crappy UK-style solutions which somehow work in their country because of a different cultural understanding of white lines.