Cycling into a new century
Tilburg was one of the first Dutch towns to build cycling-specific facilities in the late 1970s after the oil crisis, environmental concerns, traffic fatalities and other factors lead to more policy supportive of cycling. One of the first two-way tracks for cyclists was built there in 1977 but the town did not stop there. Tilburg went on to build a cycling network and worked to keep car traffic minimal in the center of town.
Now 40 years later, citizens are beginning to ask if commitment to cycling has slipped. Senior Consultant Angela van der Kloof is a resident of the town and her opinion on the subject was recently sought by the town newspaper and local bloggers. Angela pointed out several intersections in the city where cycling conditions are chaotic and concluded that the needs of cyclists are no longer being prioritized in the center. In more recent years, it seems the city has focused on keeping cars flowing.
In city centers, the typical Dutch approach is to reroute cars around and preserve these dense areas for pedestrians and cyclists. Where cars must have access, it is often preferable to allow them to mix with bikes rather than build separate facilities, which are expensive and encourage more and faster car traffic. When cars, bikes and other road users must share space, everyone is forced to slow down and look out for one another.