Independence Day and Amsterdam

Independence Day in The Netherlands

Trip to Rijswijk

The Ride

American Independence Day is obviously not a holiday in The Netherlands — so this was another day of field work (though we did end with a BBQ). The whole group (30+ people) biked from Delft to Rijswijk, a small city just north of Delft, between Delft and The Hague (Den Haag). We rode most of the way along a canal and saw some interesting infrastructure along the way.

Rijswijk Area Location

Rijswijk Area Location

First, the facility we rode on was a two-way cycletrack sandwiched between a large canal and a local access road. The local access road (Delftweg) used to be a through road for motor vehicles, but now through traffic is diverted at a number of points along the road to make other through routes more desirable for drivers.

Delftweg Cycletrack

Besides motor vehicle volumes being lowered by the diversion measures, traffic is also calmed by the narrowness of the road (2 vehicles can barely fit side by side) and design features like the “Bayonette”, which acts much like a chicane, but also includes an elevation change component.


Further along the route to Riswijk, we saw what a protected intersection treatment looks like at the junction of two high traffic roadways. The protected intersection carries the physical separation of protected bike lanes/paths (AKA cycletracks) through the intersection to the greatest extent possible. Right and left turns can be made by bicycles in a more physically separated environment, and through movements are still simple. Signalization also catered to cyclists by giving them an advanced green, which gives cyclists a head start and puts them in position to be visible to turning automobiles.

Students examining the protected intersection

Students examining the protected intersection

Rijswijk City Hall


Crossing outside Rijswijk train station

We were then given a look at a few areas in Rijswijk that presented unique transportation issues by a city traffic engineer. One of them was outside the Rijswijk train station, which presented issues in linking up with local transit, bicycle, pedestrian, and automobile modes. A multi-lane, nearly impossible to cross arterial was separated by mode to make crossings for pedestrians and cyclists easier — as they only have to cross one lane at a time, and the crossing is signalized.

An American BBQ

After a long day, we were treated to an American style BBQ outside the civil engineering building in TU Delft — thanks to Peter Furth and Northeastern University. In thanks we all sang a few patriotic tunes.

Saturday in Amsterdam

While not officially part of the course program, we spent the day in Amsterdam learning about some of the city’s transportation history and getting a feel for its streets and culture.

Integrated Transportation

I was surprised how easy it was to hop on the train that morning from Delft (the train station a 15 minute walk from the Hostel) and take frequent, , comfortable, high quality rail transit to Amsterdam in under an hour. After arriving in Amsterdam and marveling at the spectacular train station, we went to rent our bicycles for the day in A’dam.

Rental bike for Amsterdam

Rental bike for Amsterdam

Cycling Tour with Pete Jordan

We (about seven of us) were fortunate enough to be given a group tour of Amsterdam’s bicycle transportation history by none other than Peter Jordan, who is the author of the book I posted on a couple of weeks ago. Peter’s tour was very informative, and it was awesome to get the intimate experience of him guiding us around to both historical sites and sites that held meaning for him since he had moved to Amsterdam in 2002 from Portland.

Peter showing us around Amsterdam

Peter showing us around Amsterdam


A special favorite was the ride under the Rijksmuseum, a site which came up frequently in his book.

Wandering the Streets

After the tour with Peter, we grabbed some Dutch pancakes with Prof. Bertini, and preceded to wander around on our bicycles. We passed through the city center as well as some of the more residential areas of town, and I was very impressed by the city. It was beautiful and full of all kinds of life.

Amstel River

Amstel River

Semi-Final Game vs. Costa Rica

We also stuck around in Amsterdam to watch the pulse-pounding Netherlands vs. Costa Rica match. It was tough to find a seat, but we did end up finding one in a nice bar by the Dam Square. Once again, it was great to see how excited the Dutch got for their country’s team.



4 thoughts on “Independence Day and Amsterdam

  1. I was curious about your experience with the protected intersection. If you could offer a critique I would be very interested in that sort of a perspective? Would it work given what you know about American infrastructure? How does ADA look for a protected intesection? What extra space do you need at the intersection?

    1. I think they are unanimously fantastic when implemented correctly, but take a good deal of infrastructure in order to work properly.

      First, the protected intersection works best when two protected bicycle lanes are intersecting; it is beneficial with just bicycle lanes intersecting, but in that case the protective curbs either reach further out into the intersection or the bicycles have to move laterally to get inside the protected portion of the intersection. In the case of protected bike lanes, the protective curb barriers would take up the same horizontal space that the buffer does so that cyclists do not have to move laterally. In the U.S., I think it is very infrequently that we have two protected bike lanes intersecting (just my anecdotal prediction), and so the protected intersection would not be as useful; but as we continue to install more protected bicycle lanes, the protected intersection is the natural next step.

      Second, protected intersections also need accommodation in the signal cycle and bicycle specific signal hardware. This is an expensive hurdle to overcome, especially when new structures need to be installed (e.g. mast arms). Also, there is political and administrative inertia that will make this hard in some places to implement, as bicycle signals are still in infancy in most of the U.S. Thanks to you and others, hopefully bicycle signals will become a standard item at bicycle route intersections.

      I think protected intersections will be great for bicycle facilities in America, but as you said there will be some complications. We have a tougher time taking the necessary space from autos in our constricted rights of way. We also have to contend with ADA requirements, which for better or worse, The Netherlands doesn’t really have an equivalent it seems. Many intersections I’ve seen here would be very difficult (or impossible) to navigate in a wheelchair or with some other handicap. There’s many places with no ramps, narrow sidewalks, short signal timing, etc. We wouldn’t be able to do this in U.S., so our implementation of the protected intersection would likely be much less “lean” in terms of necessary ancillary accommodations.

  2. Bryan – appreciate all of your thoughts – how about the location of the right turn stop bar, would that work “culturally” here?

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