Technical tours

As part of the WSTLUR conference, technical tours in our field were provided on Wednesday 25 June, in the afternoon.

1. Houten coach & bicycle tour

The suburb of Houten, near the city of Utrecht, is famous for its spatial and traffic structure that has been built to accommodate cyclists. The town planning design made a marked contribution to reduced car use and increased bicycle and public transport use, while traffic safety is also much higher than in comparable towns. How does this work? Residential neighborhoods are only accessible to cars via a peripheral road encircling the town, so each single house can reached by car, but it is not possible to drive directly to another neighborhood. A dense network of cycle paths, however, with a direct backbone to the town center, has been created to make easy travel possible. A railway station is situated in the center of town, with a frequent connection to Utrecht. The peripheral road is closed for bicycles, with crossings at different levels. On top of that, another district has been built, also bicycle friendly, but with a different concept, in which the car is only a ‘guest.’

With this tour, we traveled by coach to Houten. En route, we showed you examples of Dutch spatial planning. In Houten, the first visit was to the town hall for a presentation about the spatial concept, followed by a guided bicycle tour to experience this cycling Utopia.

2. Randstad Rail Delft – Rotterdam – the Hague

station

Randstad Rail is a public transportation lightrail network in the southern part of the Randstad conurbation in the west of the Netherlands, connecting the cities of The Hague (the seat of the national government) and Rotterdam (the second-largest city in the Netherlands and one of the largest ports in the world) and some suburbs. Randstad Rail is a hybrid rail system, using existing metro infrastructure in Rotterdam, tramway infrastructure in The Hague and train infrastructure in between, while also missing links were added, as well as a new flyover in The Hague and a new tunnel in Rotterdam. Along the Randstad Rail, residential and employment locations have been developed, partly in a setting of transit-oriented development.

The tour set off in Delft and headed first to Rotterdam, where a brand new railway station has been developed in the past years. Then it continued by Randstad Rail to The Hague, with a stop halfway, to show the new developments. In The Hague, the central station is currently being reconstructed. A walk thru the ‘Resident,’ where living, working and shopping come together in a compact high-rise setting was followed by a visit to the city hall for a presentation about The Hague’s spatial and traffic development. Finally, we visited the recently developed underground tramway.

3. Delft – the Hague by bicycle

bicyclist

This tour provided the opportunity to experience cycling in the Netherlands. The tour started at the university campus, and ran through the old, almost car free city centre of Delft. Then we crossed the old train viaduct that soon will be replaced by a tunnel. We continued along a canal and the tramway to Ypenburg, the largest so-called Vinex-location, one of the compact new residential areas that have been developed in recent years. It was interesting to see the attempt to build in high densities, with mainly row houses, in order to create a population base for public transport. From Ypenburg we cycled thru 19th and 20th century neighbourhoods, including many Jugendstil details, to the city center. There we dropped off the bicycles and walked thru the ‘Resident,’ where living, working and shopping come together in a compact high-rise setting. Then we visited the city hall for a presentation about The Hague’s spatial and traffic development. Finally, we visited the recently developed underground tramway.

4. Delft railway station development

bicycle parking outside the train station

This tour did not go far away, but visited the rail development project in Delft. The ‘Spoorzone’ (Railway zone) project comprises the integral redevelopment of an area of around 40 hectares, located in between the inner city and the residential neighbourhoods to the west and south. The entire project consists of a railway tunnel, a railway station with municipal office, dwellings, office buildings, a city park and a canal, bicycle facilities, parking facilities and roads. In particular, bicycle parking is a huge problem at the moment, which will be partly solved by a huge, innovative bicycle parking facility. The project provides an immense impetus to the city of Delft. The Spoorzone will constitute a high-quality connection between city districts that are now separated from each other by the railway. First we visited the suburban station Delft South, where many bicycles are parked on a flyover. Then we went by train to the central railway station. We visited the redevelopment works, including the old and the new bicycle facilities. In the visitor center we received a presentation from municipality staff and we discussed possible solutions for the volume problems that the Delft railway stations face. Finally, we went back to the city centre, to view traffic calming and bicycle facilities.