March 14, 2019

New traffic sign warns cyclists for tram rails

Filed under: Bicycles by Orangemaster @ 2:46 pm

The Netherlands is a country with a sign for a ‘singing bike path’, a silly walks pedestrian crossing and this riddle about horses, but now it’s time for a sign that warns cyclists about tram rails.

Only Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague are used to dealing with trams, and sadly, cyclists are also used to cycling over trails and sometimes getting a wheel stuck in them. Today, a sign was unveiled in The Hague, and the idea behind it is to avoid injuries, which apparently happens more than we all think. To be sure everybody gets it, under the new sign it says in Dutch ‘Watch out, tram rails’.

Back in 2017 start-up SafeRails found a solution to this problem (see video), using a profile from recycled plastic that can be inserted into existing tram rails, but that never materialised. Ironically, they wanted to start with The Hague.

Moral of the story: scoring election points (we have elections on 20 March) is better than actually implementing a solution.


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November 15, 2016

Fish stall stuck in traffic opens on the motorway

Filed under: Automobiles,Food & Drink,Weird by Orangemaster @ 9:58 am


This summer a guy stuck in traffic for ages due to a major accident decided to pull out his drum kit and jam, and a few days ago, a fish stall owner decided to pop open his stall right in the middle of a motorway that was also jammed up due to a major accident.

Being stuck in traffic that isn’t moving instead of having a hot dinner on a cold, rainy, supermoon day of a Monday has to suck, but then grabbing a bite of fish helped quite a few hungry commuters keep their wits about them.

Fish stall owner Terence van de Mheen was on his way home when he got stuck in traffic. “I had two choices: stay sat in the car or pop open the stall”. I guess he made the right call and some money as well, good on him.


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August 15, 2016

Riding the green wave on your bike

Filed under: Bicycles by Orangemaster @ 11:06 am

The city of ’s-Hertogenbosch’ (Den Bosch) came second in this year’s Dutch “Traffic light region of 2016 Election”, after Helmond, both in the province of Noord-Brabant, and below you can watch a video shot in Den Bosch about how intricate and tech-savvy traffic lights for cyclists are. Den Bosch also features the country’s’ first Cycle-DRIP (Dynamic Route Information Panel) for cycling, an interesting read as well.

The video voice-over calls the traffic light button a ‘reassurance button’, which is mildly funny, but I’m guessing the contraption was taken over by pedestrian crossings. However, when you’re a visually impaired pedestrian, the ticking sounds the button makes after pressing it and when the light is green is very reassuring. Yes, the cyclist ‘reassurance button’ is possibly just for show and doesn’t make a sound, as it would be drowned out.

UPDATE: Wrong video, changed it.


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June 9, 2016

Playing the drums on the motorway

Filed under: Music,Weird by Orangemaster @ 6:32 am


Nobody likes a long and hot traffic jam due to an accident, and neither did Adriaan Stoop, drummer of the band The Moods from Eindhoven, who pulled out his kit from the back of his truck and jammed it out on a Dutch motorway last Sunday.

“At first, I didn’t want to do it, but people were saying ‘go for i!’,” he told the AD newspaper. “I saw the queue of cars and figured it was going to last quite a while, so I started drumming on the motorway.”


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January 31, 2016

Bicycle tunnel built in a single weekend in Utrecht

Filed under: Bicycles by Branko Collin @ 11:49 pm

bike-tunnel-utrechtThe Netherlands is known for taking better care of its cyclists than other countries, but this may be taking the cake.

The sign at the beginning of the video says it all: “Spinoza Bridge closed from 2 May 9 p.m. to 4 May 11 p.m.” Two days in 2014. That is how little time it took the city of Utrecht to tear apart the bridge, put tunnel parts in the gap and repair the bridge. And all this for cyclists.

The city then took 12 more months to dot the i’s and cross the t’s, which included placing tile murals by Louise Hessel. Why the tunnel had to be built so quickly is unknown, but a report from 2009 (PDF) mentions that traffic crossing the bridge would be seriously inconvenienced if the bridge had to be closed. The same report argues vehemently against building the tunnel. Apart from the effects on traffic it mentions that the bridge’s counterweight room would ‘conflict with’ the tunnel and that the costs of alternative solutions would be humongous.

In 2015 the city started its campaign Utrecht Fietst (Utrecht Cycles) and (the run up to) this campaign may have created the funds and the political will to improve the cycling situation around the Spinoza Bridge after all. Alderman Lot van Hooijdonk opened the tunnel on 28 November 2014.

A more recent cycling development in Utrecht is that the city has closed a lot of bike paths to mopeds, which aren’t allowed to go faster than 25 kph, but reach much higher speeds in practice.

See also: The city of Utrecht received 5,000 answers when it asked which traffic lights should go

(Illustration: crop of the video, link: Mark Wagenbuur)

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September 13, 2015

The city of Utrecht received 5,000 answers when it asked which traffic lights should go

Filed under: Automobiles,Bicycles by Branko Collin @ 6:53 pm

cyclist-red-traffic-light-martin-fischTraffic lights generally exist to regulate car traffic, so it doesn’t always makes sense when cyclists have to obey them too.

As part of the campaign Utrecht Fietst (Utrecht Cycles) the city asked its citizens which traffic lights were redundant, Verkeersnet reports. Motorists, cyclists and pedestrians rose to the occasion and sent in a whopping 4,760 reports between February and April. The city then presented responses for each junction on an interactive map (click the “i” icon hovering over each traffic light).

In June the city started to experiment with disabling the traffic lights of seven junctions with a further three junctions scheduled for an experiment later in 2015 in which traffic lights will be shut down during quiet times. These experiments will last six months before evaluation. Cyclists will get an additional free right on red at four junctions.

(Link: Rad-Spannerei; photo by Martin Fisch, some rights reserved)

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December 21, 2013

Traffic signs for the colour blind and other short stories

Filed under: Automobiles,Bicycles,General by Branko Collin @ 1:19 pm

A couple of short stories today.

cars-no-entry-new-2012-branko-collin cars-no-entry-old-branko-collin1. Starting October 2012 transportation infrastructure operators in the Netherlands were allowed to use new traffic signs that have been optimised for colour blind people.

The new signs were given white lines to increase contrast between red and blue elements and to increase contrast of signs with a red border when viewed against a green background, the Dutch government said. Infrastructure operators (‘wegbeheerders’ in Dutch) are free to determine if and when they will replace the old signs. The Netherlands isn’t the first country to introduce road signs for people with deficient vision, I found examples on Flickr of similarly adapted signs in Italy and France.

2. Orangemaster and I attended the opening of the Dutch Rail Lost&Found pop-up store we wrote about earlier. We kind of rushed through it, so I did not get many photos (there is one below), but The Post Online’s photographer spent some more time there.

3. In the 1970s, the Netherlands were rapidly on their way to becoming a car sick country. Mark Wagenbuur has created several videos about how protesters managed to turn this development around. His most recent video explores how school children helped raise awareness for their particular plight in the densely populated Pijp neighbourhood in Amsterdam.


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August 21, 2013

Experts deem Second Coen Tunnel dangerous and even deadly

Filed under: Architecture,Automobiles by Orangemaster @ 1:07 pm

The Coen (pronounced ‘coon’) Tunnel which runs under the North Sea Canal in Amsterdam built in 1966 is currently being fully renovated, a project that should run until 2014. The Second Coen Tunnel (that’s its name) was built from 2009-2013 and has me worried as a passenger when I go through it. I thought it was just me that felt claustrophobic in that tunnel as compared to the first one (shown here), but apparently traffic psychologists aren’t fans of the very narrow tunnel either, calling it names like “crash tunnel” and “death tunnel”.

Since its opening in mid May, there have been 55 accidents in the Second Coen Tunnel (65 according to other sources), which is either way much more than the average of four accidents a week in the first Coen Tunnel. The experts say they are too many red lights (red lights are used to indicate the right-hand side of the road, while white is for the left-hand side), which look like brake lights, no possible place to stop like in the first tunnel and it is very narrow.

First Coen Tunnel (gets full screen near 0:25), with some hip hop music:

Second Coen Tunnel, straight up, no music:

(Link:, Photo of Coen Tunnel by Erik Tjallinks, some rights reserved)

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July 28, 2012

Anti-social bicycle racers a pest on the cycle path

Filed under: Bicycles by Branko Collin @ 1:07 pm

Now that we finally have sunny weather, parents with children and older people are hesitant to get on their bikes for fear of being run over by bicycle racers.

Cyclists union Fietsersbond told Spits that anti-social bicycle racers even take the second spot of issues that cyclists complain about, after tuned up mopeds.

Apparently sports riders cut off regular cyclists, and their high speeds create a sense of unsafety. This year two cyclists were killed in accidents with bicycle racers on bike paths.

Fietsersbond thinks that wider cycle paths may be a solution. An idea they feel warrants further study is letting groups of bicycle racers move to the car lane—cycling on the road is illegal in the Netherlands where there are obligatory cycle paths. The union is supported in this by the union for bicycle racers, NFTU, but road safety organisation VVN is vehemently against the concept of cyclists in the car lane.

See also: article by Mark Wagenbuur about how the Dutch differentiate between regular cyclists and bicycle racers.

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December 14, 2010

Speeding scooters, the curse of bike paths

Filed under: Bicycles by Branko Collin @ 10:40 am

A couple of months back a reader asked if the growing popularity of mopeds detracted from bicycle infrastructure. I could not answer him back then, but now I can. The Fietsersbond (Cyclists’ Union) reports that the moped type known as ‘snorfiets’ has become a plague on the bike path, mostly because they go much faster than they are allowed.

A limited study held by the Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management. concluded that 96% of all ‘snorfietsen’ go faster than their legal limit, averaging 34 km/h (the legal limit being 25 km/h). About 40% of all collisions between mopeds and cyclists are because the former either brake too late or do not keep enough distance.

Traditionally there has been a split between regular mopeds and snorfietsen in the Netherlands. The former were allowed to go 40 km/h, but their drivers had to have insurance, wear helmets, and pass a test. The slower ‘snorfietsen’ were considered bicycles with an assist engine and had a dopey image.

In 1999 the Fietsersbond managed to get the fast moped banished to the main road. Moped drivers had to mix it with the cars instead of the much slower bicycles. Nobody knows why young people started driving the uncool snorfiets. Maybe drivers felt unsafe among much heavier cars or maybe they realised a snorfiets is almost the same amount of fun but without all the rules, maybe something else or a mix. What also may have helped is that manufacturers started producing snorfietsen with that cool, Trevi Fountain scooter look.

The problem according to Thomas Aling of the Utrecht police is that being young and owning engine driven vehicles doesn’t mix very well: “At that age, looking cool is what matters, and the safety of others is unimportant.”

(Source: De Vogelvrije Fietser (PDF), Photo of Solex snorfiets by FaceMePLS, some rights reserved)

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