Do we need more regulation on cycle lanes? | Belicons

Do we need more regulation on cycle lanes?

Posted on: 
Tuesday 4 July 2017

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Do we need more regulation on cycle lanes?

Photographer: M.Minderhoud at nl.wikipedia

Since 1 July 2017, S-pedelecs, bikes that can go as fast as 45 km/h, are regarded as mopeds. Cyclists who ride on such a bike are angry because of this, since this means that in the built-up area they should use the same lane as cars and many of these cyclists don’t feel safe in between cars.

Various S-pedelec cyclists have already decided that they won’t keep these rules. According to them it is just too dangerous and thus they feel they have to protect themselves.

On the one hand I do understand that people need to feel safe in traffic. On the other hand, if we all create our own rules, traffic won’t get safer either. Let’s take a good look at the pros and cons of S-pedelec on the road. I take these arguments from EenVandaag, het NRC en het RTL Nieuws. (Text of all links is in Dutch)

Why does the speed pedelec belong on the car lane in the built-up area?

  • The S-pedelec can go as fast as 45 km/h, just like a moped. Within the built-up area cars are now allowed to drive faster than 50 km/h and thus the speed of an S-pedelec and mopeds are within the built-up area closer to that of cars than that of many people on cycle paths.
  • Mopeds can go as fast as 45 km/h, and because of that they aren’t allowed to ride on the cycle lane within the built-up area since 14 March 2016. The S-pedelec can go as fast as the moped and thus it would be odd if this fast bike would be allowed on the cycle lane.

Why doesn't the speed pedelec belong on the car lane in the built-up area?

  • They are much slower than the large amount of cars on the road, because car drivers don’t keep the speed limits.
  • Cyclists who have driven on a cycle path with an S-pedelec have noticed that many car drivers don’t know the new rules yet and because of that they get angry, they try to force the bikers to leave the road or to irritate them by riding closely behind them. This leads to dangerous situations.
  • These cyclists feel very vulnerable on a bike when they are surrounded by several cars.
  • Michiel Werkman wonders in the newspaper NRC why racing bikes are still allowed on cycle paths even though they can easily reach the same speed as people on an S-pedelec.
  • Former head of the Office for Traffic Enforcement of the Public Prosecution Service Koos Spee doesn’t think that it’s a good idea when S-pedelecs are assigned to the road. According to them we should try to find out how to give each other more space on the cycle lane.

Peiling: We hebben een maximum snelheid voor fietspaden nodig

Peiling: We hebben een maximum snelheid voor fietspaden nodig

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Poll: We need a speed limit for bike lanes

Poll: We need a speed limit for bike lanes

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Body 2: 

What strikes me most in all of this is that 'solution' does not solve the problem. The S-pedelec is too fast for the cycle path and thus these cyclists need to use the road. But then there is a new problem, for they are far too slow over against the cars that do not keep the speed limit.

Maximum speed cycle lane

This problem thus actually is that car drivers in the build-up area do not keep the speed limit. For if they would, then they wouldn’t drive faster than 50 km/h and thus not much faster than an S-pedelec. And the difference in speed between the car and S-pedelec would then be a lot smaller than between the S-pedelec and a child on a bike.

So the means that S-pedelec cyclists want to apply now, namely not keeping the law, is party the cause of these problems. Not only because car drivers don’t keep the speed limit, but also because they apparently do not know the latest traffic laws. So actually, if everyone would just keep the maximum speed and know all the traffic laws, then the danger for these fast bike on the road would be a lot smaller.

But speed isn’t the only problem. Another reason why cyclists don’t feel safe on the road is that they have less protection than a moped or a motorcycle. Moreover, they cannot just drive away fast when they suddenly see a car approaching them.

This raises the question of why the government determines which vehicle can ride on what lane based on how fast it can go instead of how fast they actually go. The Royal Dutch Touring Club ANWB therefore argues for a speed limit of 25 km/h, which is 15.5 mph, on cycle paths. (Text link in Dutch)

This sounds as a good alternative. It would also solve the problem of racing cyclists. When I’m riding on an ordinary bike on a cycle path and suddenly some cyclists come towards me on a high speed, it doesn’t matter to me whether it is an S-pedelec or a racing bike. In both cases it is dangerous. So if everyone should just keep the speed limit of 25 km/h on the cycle path, then it would be safer for everyone.

But then we need to return to the most important problem why cyclists on an S-pedelec don’t want to use the road: people don’t keep the traffic law. A speed limit on cycle lanes alone won't make traffic safer, it will only work if people obey this law. Unfortunately, I don't think that people will suddenly start doing this.

More traffic police!

Many people don’t just obey the traffic rules. Often because they think they know better. For example car drivers who drive on a quiet road and think that they can drive faster for a while, or car drivers who think that their reaction time is very good, or cyclists who think that they can decide on their own when to cross the road and thus don’t need a traffic light for that, or people on a accelerated scooter who think it is no problem to speed up on a certain road, etc.

Various reasons but the result is the same; they don’t keep the law. Precisely because S-pedelec cyclists know this, they don’t feel safe on the road. Therefore, I think that the only solution is that we get much more traffic police who don’t only fine car drivers, but also cyclists.

The bigger the chance that people will be caught, the bigger the chance is that they will keep the traffic rules. If 25 km/h is the speed limits on cycle paths and there is a lot of traffic police riding around to check whether everyone keeps that limit, chances are big that it will become a lot more quiet on the cycle path. Cyclists who really want to ride faster than this can search for roads on which it is safe to ride faster.

I do understand the fear of S-pedelec cyclists, but at the same time, it won't make it safer if everyone has his or her own traffic laws. Some of these cyclists already have protested over against the government and they need to do something about this. The government has cut back a lot on the traffic police in the last few years and thus now it is time for them to invest a lot in it. These cyclists thus need to keep going to the government so that they will create better laws and give us more traffic police.

What do you think? Do we need a speed limit on the cycle path? Or do you see other kinds of solutions for this problem? Share your opinion, below, or on the forum!

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