Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Bicycle Oreinted Development: Case Study in Houten

Houten may be the best example of bicycle oriented development in the world. The land use was carefully prepared to insure that the system worked as intended. The other factors that make this such a successful Bicycle Oriented Development community includes the following:

  • Robust, safe bicycle network
  • Convenient Parking for bicycles
  • Support from the community

The layout of the city is focused first around the Houten train station, similar to what is considered with transit oriented development in the U.S. In my opinion, what makes Houten a bicycle oriented development is that the layout to the train station was designed to be accessed via bicycle first and foremost as opposed to providing efficient automobile access. The transportation system was laid out with bicycle highway perpendicular from the train station and rail alignment. Car access through the community was provided on the ring road and is less convenient than the bicycle network. It's not just about the bicycle network, it also has to include bicycle parking and of course a supportive community.

Details about the Bicycle Network

The bicycle highway is 2 km from the train station (east-west) before you reach the ring road. All of the homes in the community have a low stress route to the bicycle highway and it is only 8 minutes to the train station from the furthest house to access the bicycle parking garage. The schools were planned carefully so that they are all oriented towards the bicycle highway. There is a movement of design for 8 years old to 80 years old, Houten may be 6 years to 100 years old.
The south part of Houten decided not to connect the bicycle highway to the ring road to the east side of the community. In that case, the planners decided to

The red asphalt is a standard. The width is 3.5 meters wide. They have transformed many of their old routes to meet this new standard.

When cars are added to the bicycle network, they use the Fietstraat signs, auto te gast (cars are guests), that is used in many cases throughout the country.

Safety is a separate post next to this one. This is no issue in Houten.

Parking Layout and Bicycle Theft

Parking layout for bicycles is key for growing the use of people on bikes. Mark Wagenbuur mentioned the importance of bicycle parking in his presentation and this is clearly an emphasis of Houten's urban planning. As opposed to placing a large vehicle parking lot at the train station, they chose to construct a bicycle parking garage directly under the station.

The bicycle theft is very low in Houten. The parking garage reduced theft by nearly 40% overall, but it was still very low compared to larger cities.

Comments from the Community in Houten

The planners in Houten say that people are not that aware of what problems exist. When he talks to his friends they think that Houten is just normal. It's usual for them to see the City putting bicycles first in the plans. In Houten, there is a critical mass of people that cycle. When guests come to Houten to live, those people "have to adapt and when people explore cycling, they find it safe and more social". Essentially, the point being made was that the City's intent is to make people happy and they know from research that the more people cycle and walk, the happier they will be. He described an example in Austin, TX where there was a 8-lane street with a bike lane and they were trying to change it to include a cycletrack. The problem with a lot of cities in the world is that the streets are dominated by people that drive, so the modification of a street is resulting in a change to the most people.

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