April 9, 2015

Ithaca, New York to build Dutch-style ‘woonerf’

Filed under: Automobiles,Bicycles,Design by Orangemaster @ 11:08 am


After a few cities in Canada, it’s now the turn of the United States to embrace the building of a ‘woonerf’, a typical Dutch construct from the 1930s, an area where drivers, cyclists and pedestrians have to share the same space, but where pedestrians always have the right of way.

Ithaca, New York is building what they call a ‘living yard’ (‘woonerf’), with a low speed limit of no more than 10 or 12 mph (16 km/h to 19.2 km/h). Today in the Netherlands the woonerf speed limit is 15 km/h, although a few years ago it was still referred to as ‘stapvoets’, which is a old term from when people rode horses at a slow pace, which would be 6 km/h if it was really a horse, but not actually possible by car or bike without consequences. However, 15 km/h is still slower than what Ithaca has decided, which to me sounds too fast.

“The whole point is to encourage human interaction; those who use the space are forced to be aware of others around them, make eye contact and engage in person-to-person interactions.” As a North American, the car is always king of the road, but the woonerf forces drivers to realise that it’s not always their space just because there’s a road, which I think is a good thing to learn.

(Link: ithacavoice.com, Photo by Payton Chung, some rights reserved)

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September 12, 2013

Canadian cities are adopting the Dutch woonerf

Filed under: Architecture,Automobiles,Bicycles by Orangemaster @ 9:37 am


Toronto was probably the first Canadian city back in 2010 to build a Dutch-style ‘woonerf’, streets where the boundaries between the areas for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians have been removed, and now Montreal and Ottawa are adopting them as well. They’ve also adopted the word ‘woonerf’, a typical Dutch word and construct from 1934 to go with it.

When I was learning how to drive here I had to learn everything about these special residential zones where the driving speed is ‘at a foot’s pace’ (about 15 km/h, although it isn’t actually specified) and where a car must give right of way to all other drivers (including cyclists) upon entering and all other road users upon exiting. As well, any drivers coming at you from the right in a woonerf have right of way, and parking is only allowed where indicated.

(Link: www.bnr.nl, Photo by Payton Chung, some rights reserved)

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