In a bid to persuade citizens to switch to pedal power for their regular commute, the Dutch are to build a series of high quality, high-capacity cycle routes between towns and cities where traffic jams are a regular headache.
The concept is known as Fiets Filevrij – or ‘queue-free cycling’ – and at the end of 2010 the Dutch Ministry for Infrastructure and the Environment pledged €21 million for cycle lane building programmes along 16 routes linking places suffering from chronic congestion.
This is just the latest instalment in the long-running programme – it began back in 2006 with the selection of five ‘rapid cycling’ routes. The final investment total, supplemented by local councils, is expected to be around €80m.
The aim is to lure drivers out of their cars by reducing delays along the cycle routes – including things like waiting times at lights – and by improving the quality of the cycling itself through such measures as smooth tarmac, good lighting and the construction of new bridges and tunnels.
Five of the 16 routes are already complete, including Arnhem to Nijmegen and The Hague to Leiden. The majority of the routes are in the densely populated central area of the country and will facilitate journeys of up to 15km between major population centres. That's the distance the authorities believe people will readily cycle if suitably fast, high quality routes are provided.
Of course, the Netherlands isn't short of cycle routes – there are two national systems, one of recreational routes (LF routes), signed in green and white, and one of ‘door to door’ utility routes, signed in red and white.
Fiets Filevrij routes like this one in Deventer aim to lure Dutch drivers out of their cars