Velo-city Session: Cycling the Fast Lane

Four speakers from the first generation of cycle highways presented their ambitions and illustrated the CHIPS Assessment Tool with stories from their regional cycle highways. 

History of Cycle highways starts in 1930’s when the British government asked technical advises to the Netherlands for building segregated cycle paths, explained Mr Carlton Reid from the Cycle Superhighways in London. 380 miles of infrastructures were put in place before being forgotten for many years. Cycle highways are in bad conditions now and they have never been restored despite many works have been done to the main roads. The cycle highways in the UK, as part of an 80-scheme network, are still available even if sometimes completely ignored by cyclists.

The Province of Flemish-Brabant, and province of congestion, joked Mr Frederik Pousset, due to its proximity to the Belgian capital Bruxelles, is supporting cities to implement cycling and innovative mobility solutions. The plan foresees 2,400 km of cycle paths, some of them are ready to be used while others under development. What is a cycle highway? It is a functional, asphalted path connecting cities as a backbone infrastructure, as agreed within the CHIPS project. The Province is developing the Leuven-Brussels Cycle Highway to allow the connection between two important Belgian cities where many commuters tavel every day. This infrastructure can enable the potentiality of cycling. The biggest challenge is to make the highway signage readable: a brand was created and promoted. This initiative needs both a top-down and a bottom-up support. Municipalities have been involved as well as users that shared their experience on social media.

Cycle Super Highways is the project presented by Ms Signe Helledi from the Supercykelstier in Greater Copenhagen. 28 routes connecting 23 municipalities and 1,7 million people using 206 km of cycle paths. The network is highly efficient thanks to the accessibility of the infrastructures, availability, comfort and safety. Despite that, maintenance is still a big issue: municipalities have different priorities and cycle paths are not managed from a cyclist perspective. The project tried to change this approach, explained Ms Helledi. Cycle track inspectors are in charge of monitoring and reporting o signs, surface, access and cleaning. They register all the problems and yearly report to the municipalities.

Mr. Ulrich Malburg brought the audience into the future, showing how North-Rhine Westfalia is developing the cycle highways network. They started a planning competition that led to promote the creativity of cities in order to provide them financial support for cycling infrastructures. 33 communities participated, planning cycle routes from 8 to 45 km long. The government funded the 85% of the projects. In particular the RS1 is a fantastic examples on how to develop a cycle highway: 100 km serving 1.8 million people of which 430,000 employees. This infrastructure allows to have 50,000 cars less on the roads every day and commuters can save up to 70 minutes per day. In the next 5-10 years the government count to improve the network up to 350 km of cycle paths, investing 350 million € for Cycle Super Highways.


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