Dutch Way of bike lane design solves problem of left and right turns: a lesson for Vancouver? (VIDEO)

Dec 19 2017, 10:00 am

Could the ‘Dutch way’ of building bike lanes provide lessons for Vancouver as it further expands and develops its cycling infrastructure?

There are many variables that contribute to accidents, which includes the improper practices and methods on the part of both cyclists and vehicle drivers. However, accidents can be further reduced immediately with road infrastructure that is better designed to minimize conflicts between cyclists and drivers at intersections.

An accident between a cyclist and a vehicle on the Dunsmuir Street bike lane intersecting Beatty Street on March 13, 2014.

Image: Sabrina Fenster

Some of the world’s best and most practical bike lane and road infrastructure can be found in the Netherlands, which is of course known for its near-universal cycling culture.

As explained and animated by Mark Wagenbuur of Bicycle Dutch, a blog about cycling in the Netherlands, the ‘Dutch Way’ of designing bike lanes is an inclusive system that reduces the chance of crossing and turning conflict between pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles.

The much safer ‘Dutch Way’ of bike lane intersection design:

[youtube id=”5HDN9fUlqU8″]


The problem with this right turn lane is the angle of crossing. Drivers need to look at their shoulder for a cyclist.

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Image: Bicycle Dutch

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Image: Bicycle Dutch

Instead, cyclists are kept on the right of car traffic at all times and the right turn is dealt with at the intersection instead.

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Image: Bicycle Dutch

You can create an extra curb to fulfill the bike lane’s right turn that connects the bike lanes on both streets. It has the same radius as the existing curb.

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Image: Bicycle Dutch

There is room for a protective traffic island which also creates a cycle path on the intersection itself without needing more space.

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Image: Bicycle Dutch

And you can do that on every corner of the intersection.

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Image: Bicycle Dutch

Some colour can be added to better identify the bike lanes.

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Image: Bicycle Dutch

Some zebra lines can also be added for pedestrian crossings.

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Image: Bicycle Dutch

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Image: Bicycle Dutch

A right turning car has to stop before the white line while a cyclist has to stop before crossing the street. The driver is in very clear view of the cyclist.

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Image: Bicycle Dutch

If both are in the intersection, eye contact is possible as both can look to the front. This can prevent collisions.

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Image: Bicycle Dutch

This design also solves a further problem of the left turn for cyclists. The bike lanes in the intersection double as a bike lane roundabout.

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Image: Bicycle Dutch

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Image: Bicycle Dutch

With this arrangement, “cyclists can always turn right on a red traffic light, and are protected from any interference from motorists as they do so,” writes Wagenbuur. “Motorists cannot make a right turn on red. Each cycle path is a minimum of 2.5 m wide, and conventionally they will expand in width at busy junctions, so there is space for cyclists to pass each other to make the maneuver.”