Amsterdam, Mr. Visserplein and Jodenbreestraat
In cycling cities like Amsterdam, there is a need for more road space for cyclists. Especially at intersections, where cyclists have to wait for a red traffic light, it can become very crowded. However, two measures can be combined to create more capacity and flow at a junction without redesigning it completely. First, reducing the traffic islands in size which separate cyclists from motorized vehicles to create more space for waiting. Second, widen the crossing path for cyclists and thereby repaint the lines on the road towards the other side of the junction.
To provide more space and flow for cyclists at junctions, planners started to investigate how junctions were really being used by cyclists, a so-called desire-line study. According to this study, which shows cyclist behaviour, the design of the junction should be adjusted, where possible, in favour of that behaviour. Mr. Visser Square was the first intersection where the municipality implemented these measures to battle congestion and stimulate an easy flow of bike traffic during peak hours. Now these measures are taken on a lot more junctions all over Amsterdam.
Several traffic islands have been removed or reduced in size. This created a new traffic phenomenon: the banana. The banana is a curved traffic island which still protects the cyclists but takes up a lot less space. This provides the much-needed space for cyclists who are waiting for a traffic light. A second measure is the funnelling of cyclists, otherwise known as the frietzak (‘bag of fries’). To get as many cyclists as possible at the other side of the intersection during a green light, the bike lane at the side of the traffic light is enlarged. Thus, according to the natural behaviour cyclists already showed in the studies prior to the designing process. Immediately after the traffic light, the bike lane is narrowed and reduced back to its original size.
1. To make more space for cyclists (and pedestrians) the city needs to make some fundamental changes. Considering the (political) problems these would carry (in 2016), the City of Amsterdam decided to first look at what is possible within the current framework.
2. Measures which would be too complex and therefore delay a speedy process, were avoided. This is why none of the 50 km/h roads were changed into 30 km/h roads, and also why no tram masts or large overhanging traffic lights were moved (also because this is an expensive exercise).
3. There are more measures available than only the ‘banana’ or the ‘bag of fries’. It’s the whole package of possible generic measures in a combination which really improves a junction.
4. These physical measures are always in combination with traffic light optimization for cyclists – If the cyclists get less redlight time, less space is necessary for waiting cyclists
Cycling Policies Amsterdam (EN)
Plan Amsterdam (EN)
‘Banana’ and ‘Bag of fries’ (NL)