Monday, July 10, 2017

Understanding Dutch Design by Visiting Rijswijk, a suburb of The Hague

We gathered at the New Church at 9 AM and broke into two groups.
Paul and Peter lead the tours. We exited Delft on Delftseweg on a newly opened rebuilt fietsstraat. There was a lot of #FreshElmo as we headed north with several different configurations. One treatment that isn't very common is head in parking, which suggests that most configurations work in the Dutch concepts.

The Portland State University Study Abroad program visited Rijswijk, a suburb of The Hague and Delft. Rijswijk has 350 companies and 15,000 jobs with the two prominent local employers being the European Patent Office (2,700 jobs) and Shell (2,700 jobs).

The local planner provided a summary of the community's transportation plan and a few select projects. One example project was the new bridge in Broekpolder that opened up three years ago to connect Delftseweg to the west side of the river and the employment areas. Just as we arrived, the bridge opened and we got a nice view of the cross section, which also happened in 2015.

Cross section of the bridge (opened for barge traffic)

We stopped on the Delftseweg where we spent some time looking at the tram line (Route #1) and the Haagweg where the most narrow green space was installed to make the separation between the light rail tracks, the motor way, and the service road.

From left to right: Rail lines, auto space (with chicanes), cycletrack 

Our next stop was on Caan van Necklaan, which was a diagonal street that used to serve as a cut through for car traffic. The intersection of Da Costalaan was designed with a circle that provides bicycle through movement and limited access for automobile traffic.

General Spoorlaan was a facility that surprised me on this visit. It is a street that has a significant distance where four auto traffic lanes are carried through the signal, allowing for passing in front of the old City Hall. Our guide Paul indicated that this sort of design isn’t used today, and is a remnant of 1960 design principles.

Our host at Rijswijk mentioned that they will be reducing this cross section for traffic safety and to reduce maintenance costs. Peter Furth said: that’s brilliant and our host says: “It’s common sense”.

PSU Study Abroad Visit to Gemeente Delft

The Portland State University Study Abroad program visited the City of Delft today. Our host was Jan Nederveen, who visited Portland and Boston a few months prior to our visit. The presentation he gave focused on the planning of Delft and how they have approached the challenge of getting people to cycle more.
Traffic signals and intersections are designed specifically for cyclists.
The City had a good start in 2005 when they worked on the City transportation plan because nearly 15% of the population is students at TU Delft (a technical university) and the town is 100,000 inhabitants, so the scale of the city is very easy to cycle in because it is 5 km x 5 km, so you can get anywhere in the City with a 20 minute ride. In the transportation plan, the City used five key categories to guide transportation decisions:

  • Air Quality, 
  • Noise, 
  • Safety, 
  • Emergency Response, and 
  • Ecology 
The transportation analysis showed with these categories determined that cycling was a good way to increase the air quality. They have done a lot with cycling, but it's not the entire story. Transit is a big part of their work becuase many people are commuting to TU Delft from significant distances, the City has also invested quite a bit on transit planning. The presentation describes their investment in rail which has been centered on the main train station which is at significant cost. There has been limited work on the connections to the bus network. The bus provides some connections for people that can not cycle.

One of the massive initiatives in Delft to help them realize their goals was undergrounding the railroad that divided the main center from a significant neighborhood to the west. The largest impact of the rail corridor (200 trains per day) was the noise of the trains crossing near the homes in the area and its impact to the community.

The City recently completed the railroad tunnel that provided 4 tracks and is 2.3 km long. It provides an amazing boost to the nearby neighborhood adjacent to the station. Two tracks are operational now, but an additional two tracks are being dug out so that there won't be a need to come back later to address capacity needs between The Hague and Rotterdam.

1 Billion Euros was the overall cost of the project. 80 Million Euros were contributed by the local agency (Gemeennte Delft). The financing for the project was established because they are in the process of building 10,000 houses as a part of the project on the land that is reclaimed as a part of the railroad tunnel. Unfortunately for Delft, the housing crisis hit at the wrong time for the community and as the market returned the project has suffered from delays in the finance plan coming to fruition. Ultimately, the investment is worth the costs, because of the alternative of not building would result greater societal costs.

The project also included a high capacity bike facility separate from the other modes and bike parking facilities. In 2007, the bike parking was overloaded, even though there were 6,000 spaces. In  2016, the completed project added 2,700 parking spaces with a bike garage of 5,000 spaces!

The Delft station and an adjacent parcel that will be redeveloped in the coming years as a "Student Hotel" for students that are staying for four weeks (or something like that) and there's another plan for the Delft City office buildings were opened a few weeks after our opening.
Hey kids, let's go to the 5,000 space bike parking garage on vacation!