Cycling for Everyone
Cycling for Everyone

Plenty of Potential for Cycling Routes in the Alkmaar Region

29 April 2022 - Author: Lotte Rijsman

The bicycle is playing an increasingly important role for daily journeys in The Netherlands. Due to the development of faster (electric) bicycles, people are more likely to get on their bikes for commuting and school traffic with a distance of up to 20 kilometers or more. The Alkmaar region, where several spatial developments take place, responds to this trend. This region has ambitions to facilitate and further stimulate bicycle use. The province of Noord-Holland and the municipalities in the Alkmaar region therefore want to invest in the cycling infrastructure in and around Alkmaar. In an exploration by Royal HaskoningDHV and Decisio, the most promising routes of the intended cycling network of the Alkmaar region were investigated.

Potentiality Research

As a local government, how do you decide which routes you want to invest in? There are many factors at play. How many cyclists are going to use the route? What are the costsinvolved in improving or constructing the route? What do measures mean for road safety, emissions and health, for example? Royal HaskoningDHV and Decisio helped the Alkmaar Region to answer these questions. With a potentiality research, they mapped out which cycle routes in and around Alkmaar have the best chance of success.

To make this assessment, 21 routes in and around Alkmaar were assessed on the following aspects:

  • Quality Gains for cyclists: improving the comfort, directness, safety, attractiveness and coherence of the cycle route
  • Transport Value: the potential number of cyclists who use a cycle route on a working day.
  • Costs: the total costs to build or improve the cycle route.
  • Social Effects: the replacement of car kilometres by bicycle kilometres has an effect on congestion, health, air quality, noise and road safety.

In order to be able to compare the routes with each other, the scores on the various criteria were quantified with index numbers. By weighing these indexes, a total score was created for each route. This has provided valuable decision information for policy makers and administrators about the prioritisation of cycling routes to be built and/or improved.

Promising Bicycle Connections in the Alkmaar Region

Royal HaskoningDHV and Decisio applied this method for the Alkmaar region. The starting point was a map from the declaration of intent that the Municipalities of Uitgeest, Langedijk, Heiloo, Heerhugowaard, Castricum, Bergen, Alkmaar and the Province of Noord-Holland signed in 2020. This map contained a proposed, provisional route network. For one route, the priority route between Heerhugowaard and Uitgeest, it was already established that it would be further developed into a principle design. They delivered this design including a cost estimate.

The remaining 21 routes had to be prioritised. Based on the method, they assessed the routes and divided them into three categories:

  • Promising Routes: These are the routes with the most potential to tackle as a whole route. An example of this is the route between Alkmaar and Warmenhuizen, which eventually leads to Schagen. A large group of cyclists is served on this route, also because the route in Alkmaar Noord forms an important link in the urban fabric. The route is already in good condition at many locations, so the costs for improvement are relatively low. Especially the wayfinding needs attention: how can cyclists recognize and use this route as a continuous backbone in the urban fabric?
  • Promising Projects: These are large measures or projects that belong to one of the routes, but where the route is not promising enough to tackle directly as a whole. Focusing on one or two important locations can provide a major improvement for the route as a whole. The connection between Alkmaar-Noord, Sint Pancras and Heerhugowaard is an example of this, because this is really a ‘missing link’ in the network. Due to the many barriers between Sint Pancras and Heerhugowaard (rail, roads, water), these areas for cyclists are currently not well connected. Removing the barriers entails high costs, but many cyclists benefit from it.
  • Other Routes are part of the entire cycle route network, but are less urgent and promising to be realized. This concerns, for example, the route between Heerhugowaard and Akersloot, along which there are few buildings. This route is quite long and measures are therefore expensive. Tackling this cycle route is therefore seen as less promising.

Prioritising investments in cycling infrastructure is not only to be applied in the Alkmaar region. There are countless areas that lend themselves to a network of (better) cycle routes. Royal HaskoningDHV and Decisio can also map out the potential of cycle routes for your region. For more questions about this, please contact Lotte Rijsman (Royal HaskoningDHV) or Freek Lier (Decisio).

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Lotte Rijsman

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Royal HaskoningDHV, Decisio

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