Follow the Red Dots: Alternate Bicycle Routes

Bike Paths
The way some cities have streets congested with cars, many Dutch cities have streets congested with bicycles, particularly during rush hour. Mark over at Bicycle Dutch has posted a number of videos and blog posts over the years showing some of the rush hour bicycle traffic here in Utrecht. The worst area is the main street that runs east to west through the city. On the western side is the train station and on the eastern side of the city is the university. With all of the students riding through town, plus all of the regular commuters and locals trying to get around town, the street can be incredibly busy with bikes. Although I’ll take bicycles over cars any day!

In an attempt to find alternative routes and solutions for the heavier rush-hour traffic, a pilot program began in April to draw attention to less-travelled routes that still get you to the same place. No new paths were created, they simply made more of an effort to highlight existing routes. The way they did so was by painting red circles on the street, as seen in the photo above. The red circles guide cyclists by veering off into a different direction (over the Herenbrug and into the Museumkwartier, in this case), rather than taking you straight up to the main cross street. (You can see the new route in the last image in this post.)

Students from the Hogeschool voor de Kunsten (School of the Arts) helped provide some of the inspiration for the plan. The effects of the campaign were studied through September, taking into account traffic and user responses. I don’t think official results have been released yet, though.

In all, it seems like a decent idea to draw attention to alternate routes, especially for those who may find the main street a bit overwhelming during its busiest moments. If nothing else, it provides what is often a more attractive route.

Have any of you used the alternative route? Did you like it?