BITS

Despite corona, still an increase in cycling in the Province of Antwerp in 2020

02 February 2021 - Published by Matteo Candelari

The Provincial Cycle Barometer analyses the cycle counting, cycle behaviour and cycle infrastructure for 2020.

The Provincial Cycle Barometer of the Province of Antwerp analysed all cycle routes on the supra local functional cycle network. The number of cyclists, the cycle infrastructure and the cycle accident data of all municipalities in the Province of Antwerp where mapped. These data show that the best cycle infrastructure scores 8/10 and 5/10 for the routes in mixed traffic. That there are still 183 kilometers of “murder strips”. These are too narrow cycle lanes alongside a busy traffic road without any separation. But the cycle count data also shows a small increase in cycling of one percent.

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Figure 1: murder strip alongside traffic road

Corona impact on cycling

The Province of Antwerp had 3 lockdowns due to corona. The first started in March and lasted 2 months, the second started end of July and lasted 1 month and the third started in October and is still going. During lockdown cycling was strongly encouraged by the government and the cycle counting show that the Antwerp residents kept cycling even more then in 2019. But the lockdowns and the mandatory working from home led to a shift in the workday patterns on cycling. The morning and evening peak of commuters disappeared and an uptake of cycling during daytimes, even on workdays, occurred.

Apart from the changing day patterns, also a shift to more ‘green’, pleasant locations was noted. Charts below show the comparison of the results for 2 locations. Berchem is a district of the city of Antwerp where lots of commuters, school children and people visiting the city for shopping pass by. The location of Willebroek is a crossing point of 5 cycle highways between 2 major waterways, connecting also to the towpaths and in a blue-green environment. 

Despite corona, several lockdowns with schools (partially) closing, mandatory working from home there is a small increase in cycling of one percent in 2020 pertaining to 2019.

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Berchem

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Willebroek

 Data analyses with focus on road and cycle safety

The cycle infrastructure dataset contains more parameters than the width, the separation and the materials but also the traffic signs that define the legal statute of the infrastructure and the traffic rules to be followed. This analysis shows that on 22 kilometers, cyclists on speed pedelecs bikes are forced to cycle in 70 KM/H traffic because the road sign on the mixed cycle-foot lane prohibits speed pedelecs to use it. The road sign for cycle lanes is a perfect solution to tackle this problem. This sign gives a clear position on pedestrians, cyclists and speed pedelecs.

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Mixed traffic on 70 KM/H is still the case on 183 kilometers supra local functional cycle routes. These roads are busy traffic roads as well as narrow local roads. The best solution for each case can be a good cycle lane but also measures to make mixed traffic appropriate. To build good cycle infrastructure, the Province of Antwerp subsides 90% of the building costs. This financial tool from the Province and the Flemish government helps municipalities to realise a safe and comfortable cycle network. On local roads measures as installing a 50 KM/H zone, banning through traffic, circulation plans and speed-reducing measures are ways to increase the cycle suitability of these roads.

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Figure 2: traffic road 70 KM/H mixed traffic

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Figure 3: local road mixed traffic 70 KM/H