Fietserbond Netherlands (Dutch Cyclists Union)
The Fietsersbond is the Dutch Cyclists' Union that campaigns for better cycling conditions in the Netherlands. The Fietsersbond is a member of the European Cyclists' Federation. The Fietsersbond has 33,000 members. With 130 local branches and over twenty employees at the National Office work towards:
- well maintained, smooth and direct cycling routes
- more and improved parking spaces for bikes
- action against bicycle theft
- more safety in traffic for cyclists..etc.
Field of Study
The Netherlands - bicycle country
The Netherlands is a country that is well known for its cycling. Over 80 % of the people own at least one bicycle. And with no mountains to speak of, a moderate climate and the fact that the Dutch live in close proximity to one another, people from the very young to the very old use their bicycles all year round and for all purposes. In fact cycling is a normal everyday mode of transport for most Dutch people: about 34 % of all trips less than 7,5 kilometres long are made by bicycle, while the car accounts for 38 %, walking 23% and public transport only 3%. Here are some examples of excellent research study and campaigns done by Fietserbond Netherlands (Dutch Cyclists Union) for better cycling conditions in the Netherlands.
The Dutch Cyclists’ Union (Fietsersbond) asserts the interests of cyclists in the Netherlands and is dedicated to achieve more and better conditions for cycling. It strives to make the bicycle more competitive with other modes of transport over short distances. In terms of time, as well as in terms of safety and comfort. For this an infrastructure should be provided that gives cyclists the most direct, attractive, comfortable and safe route possible within a coherent cycling network.
The Quick Scan Indicator for Cycling Infrastructure (QSIF)
There are actually hardly any data on the quality of cycling infrastructure in municipalities. These data are necessary for a good assessment of the cycling policy in a municipality. For this reason the Cyclists’ Union has designed a tool to measure and assess cycling infrastructure in a simple and reliable manner. The Quick Scan Indicator for Cycling Infrastructure (QSIF) was designed by the Cyclists’ Union in collaboration with Goudappel Coffeng bv., traffic and transport consultants and M+ P Consulting Engineers bv. De Quick Scan Indicator for Cycling Infrastructure (QSIF) works under the direction of local actors, including the local branches of the Cyclists’ Union along with the municipality and with support of the Cyclists’ Union’s head office. The QSIF provides useful information for assessing, adapting or influencing cycling policy. In order to do so, it meets the following conditions:
- General acceptance of measured criteria;-easy to use (as far as possible by local actors);
- Measurements are univocal (so that the results are comparative to those from other municipalities);
- Results are reliable and plausible;-results provide valuable links to measures applicable to the whole network
Navigation system for the bicycle
Does a navigation system exist specifically for bicycles in the Netherlands? For years this has been the first and foremost question addressed to the Fietsersbond. The answer: No, in a country famous for its bicycles, it does not exist. The navigation systems TomTom and Garmin both use maps where the bicycle paths in the Netherlands are not well marked. Therefore these are of no use to cyclists. Since there are no good cycle maps, no one in the Netherlands can provide a really useful bicycle navigation system.
In other countries the situation may be different and good maps may exist. Maybe because there are not as many individual bikepaths as in the Netherlands. Or one-way streets which cyclists may ride in both directions. Or small alleyways only fit for bicycles and pedestrians. Mapping all of these, solely for bicycles, is commercially not viable - it is far too expensive.
The Fietsersbond did not want to reconcile itself to this situation and has started a navigation planner of its own. Two years ago this project began and by now the first part of the Netherlands in online. This is a joint venture with several provinces, part of the Dutch government. These want to encourage bicycling and contribute financially to the navigation planner. Since it has been online, is has been the item visited most often on all sites it occurs on (those of the provinces and the Fietsersbond).
The Fietsersbond system
The Fietsersbond has emphatically chosen a system that is of interest both to the everyday cyclist and the tourist. Because it is impossible to distinguish between the two: cyclists go everywhere and the everyday cyclist may want to cycle for fun in the weekend.
Digital Route Planning
But the various groups of cyclists do have different demands. A racer wants a fast and smooth ride. Someone looking for a relaxing outing prefers nice scenery. And someone on his way to a business meeting wants above all else the shortest way. For children lightly travelled roads are preferable. To meet the demands of all bicyclists, 14 relevant characteristics are noted of all roads, such as type of road (bike path, normal road), type of surface and quality thereof, congestion, surroundings and whether or not the route is signposted. This allows the cyclist to define his preferences in planning his route:
- Knooppunten network, a system of linked bicycle routes
- Lightly travelled roads
- Good progress
- Racing bicycles
- Socially safe
In addition to these preferences it is also possible to define personal preferences, as well as the option to state the preferences for each characteristic individually.
Unique approach: build a network based on local knowledge of bicyclists
The members of the Fietsersbond are crucial to the entire process. They provide and enter all information, through an application that allows them to tinker with the network. Beside entering connections, volunteers provide some 14 characteristics for each road. These provide the system with enough information to allow highly intelligent planning of routes.
New volunteers are recruited by the Fietsersbond as well. All people that want to contribute to the system are invited for an instructional evening. Volunteers also find help among themselves in getting to grips with the application.
In the province of Utrecht some 100 volunteers have worked for six months to elevate the network to such a level that it would allow a high-quality navigation system to come online. Even after the navigation system has come online, volunteers continue to arrive in droves and the work continues. The speed at which changes are entered is much higher that the actual changes in the bike connections on the ground. This means that the connections in the system are continuously being improved Volunteers spend varying amounts of time on the project. A handful of people work several days a week on the project, others the occasional hour. Here, as everywhere, the 80-20 rule applies: 80 per cent of the changes in the network are introduced by 20 per cent of the volunteers.
The navigation system matches new developments and techniques
A bicycle navigation system and the maintenance of a network of volunteers are very recent technological innovations. The three major elements that have made this feasible are increasing accessibility of GIS applications, interactive possibilities of the internet and the availability of broadband access to the internet. Of course, the use of the navigation system is inextricably linked to the familiarity of internet as well.
Short demonstration of the navigation system
Thanks to the availability of GPS receivers and PDAs our navigation system can be used for real-time navigation as well. At this stage, however, this is limited to cycling a route downloaded from the internet.
The navigation system for the province of Utrecht works from door to door. This is the basis for the nation- wide navigation system as well. For each road volunteers have determined 14 characteristics. The system can be used for a given address, postal code or town. Personal preferences can be chosen by using standard programmes or a personalised profile.
The bicycle navigation system for the southeast of the province of Noord-Brabant is based on the well-known knooppunten network, where bicycles routes are linked. This system contains only the major bike routes. So- called POI’s (Points Of Interest) may be displayed on the map and can then be incorporated into the route.
The editor is the internet application that allows the volunteers to participate in the network. The background
consists of topographical maps and aerial photography. The network consists of the current road system to
which bike paths and road characteristics have been added.
Location and Contact:
Fietsersbond Netherlands (Dutch Bicyclists' Union)
Bezoekadres per 1 januari 2010: Kanaalweg 50, 3526 KM Utrecht
P.O. box 2828, 3500 GV Utrecht, The Netherlands
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