Course Day 1: Dutch Bicycling Facilities (Bonus Trip to Scheveningen)

Our first lecture of the course was lead by Peter Knoppers, an engineer at TU Delft who are “hosting” PSU (who I’m visiting with) and Northeastern University. The lecture was entitled “Surviving the Netherlands” and in addition to some important tips (like 911 = 112), he told us a little about Dutch traffic markers.

Shark’s Teeth:  The only one I’ll mention today, these are at most every intersection and apply to any lane they are painted at. Although they may look like arrows pointing where to go, if the point is facing you in your lane, you must yield to oncoming traffic and pedestrians.

A cycling pathway entrance to a roundabout.

Shark’s Teeth in the wild. Notice the similarity between the yield sign and the teeth.

Our next lecture was lead by P. Furth, “Chief Deterrent to Bicycling: High Traffic Stress.” Afterward, we went on some related bicycling facility tours. If you’re interested, I summarized the rides and information into a google presentation here.

We were asked during the tours to think about the safety and convenience of the lanes as well as space trade-offs. The relative safety and convenience between types of facilities is so difficult to describe because everything felt safer and more convenient than in Vancouver. At the core, it was simply the feeling of respect for cyclists and everyone being willing to wait for someone else. Except where there were motor scooters! As for space trade-offs, I think I’ll need a little more time to digest everything we’ve seen.

At the end of the day, we made hotdogs, bought some apple pies and the Americans showed me how “America Day” is celebrated. I think we had everything but the fireworks. We’ll need to work on that.

Bonus: Trip to Scheveningen, the Hague’s Beach Town

The day before class started, some of us decided to visit Scheveningen which is  a beach town very close to den Haag. It’s so close to the Hague I’m surprised it is a separate city. It’s a bit like making Kitsilano its own city. Apparently, there is a movement to rename it the Hague Beach abroad. But, I never saw any signage or maps with that name and the locals are quite proud of the area.

A panoramic picture of an elevated boardwalk, large hotels and a beach stretching into the distance.

Half of Scheveningen’s beach and De Pier

It was very beautiful, but it was a very different take on beach aesthetic. Rather than the “natural” aesthetic at beaches on the Pacific Northwest, this was a manufactured landscape. Along the edge of the beach were resturants that each had a patio with big chairs and sofas to lounge on. There were also trampoline’s, playgrounds and other activities for kids to do. Every 500 meters or so on the beach, there would be a huge poll with a cartoon image on top so that kids could easily remember where their family was. There was also a huge pier with shops and resturants named, of course, De Pier.

Although I suspect this beach takes a similar amount of care to a Pacific Northwest beach, it had a very different feel. This wasn’t a place to chill out and wear grungy beach clothes. It was very dates, family outings and enjoying the weather.

A picture of a beach with many people. A clown image is on a pole in the distance.

Looking at the other half of the beach from De Pier.

This was also where the extended roaming distance between guardians and children allowed in Holland has been the most noticable. Everywhere I’ve gone in the Nederlands I’ve seen young childern in busy areas with guardians following a block or two behind, even farther if they are traveling by bike. At the beach, I honestly couldn’t even guess which resturant parents would be sitting at as playgrounds were often nestled between long stretches of resturants.

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