6a. Niet minder-minder, maar meer-meer!
Verkeersbazen hebben de eeuwige neiging om fietsers een eigen getto te geven, zogenaamd voor hun
eigen bestwil, maar vaak toch meer omdat die auto’s er teveel last van hebben bij het ‘doorstromen’.
Zelden noemt men dan ook maar even de nadelen ervan, waaronder vooral dat bestuurders dan nog
minder rekening gaan houden met de fietser als verschijnsel: op de rijweg verschijnt de fiets dan immers
minder en minder vaak in beeld. Tegelijk is het uiteraard onmogelijk om ze overal te weren en waar ze
dan wel zijn worden ze dus juist veel kwetsbaarder. Denk maar aan oversteken.
Als men het fietsverkeer serieus neemt – wat algemeen wordt beweerd – moeten er juist meer situaties
geschapen worden waar de autobestuurder nadrukkelijk verplicht is rekening te houden met de fietser.
En veel minder situaties waar de fietser als een timide paria wordt behandeld – bijvoorbeeld met lange
stoplichtwachttijden gepaard aan veel te korte groenfasen en veel te weinig opstelruimte.
Kortom: de fiets moet in veel meer situaties volwaardig meetellen, vaak zelfs de nadruk krijgen. IWACC
verkondigde dat al in 1983, wat nota bene bij de toenmalige SWOV wel weerklank vond en dat toen
door de SWOV geformuleerd werd als ‘de fiets moet meer status krijgen’ (een term die we zelf liever
vermeden). Zie ook Over renormalisatie, het leven, autobestuurders, wolven, fietsen, of download
Over renormalisatie.pdf.
6b. Road cultures
Highways, motorways or whatever you call them are special man-made systems. Here, traffic elements
are quite similar – predominantly automobiles, no bicycles or pedestrians – and level crossings etc. are
mostly absent or very far apart. This piece looks at all the other roads and routes, so where below we
say roads, those others are what we mean.
Under normal circumstances – but don’t ask us what these are – a certain singular traffic ‘culture’ may
be dominant on a specific road or route section. Such a culture may consist of a peculiar atmosphere, a
locally accepted range of speeds, a typical hierarchy between vehicle types, and other ingredients. The
local road culture may be very local indeed, or rather similar to what’s customary on many other stretches
of the same general ilk. Why and how a certain road culture came by it’s individual character is gene-
rally very difficult to ascertain, and often a complete enigma as the history of local behaviour was never
Of course, in some cases clear influences may be offered that’ll have had a role in creating the local
traffic culture. But distinguishing which of these contributed and how much is often impossible. It’s quite
clear, however, that regulations, road signs etc. are almost never the ruling cause. Indeed, the natural
or man-made surroundings of a road are very much part of the scene and hence of our mental model
tableau. Although road engineering doesn’t pay much attention to the visual impact of the wider surround-
ings, the way a road is perceived and understood, and hence the behaviour of the perceiver, is strongly
controlled by what’s taken in by our visual periphery. And that’s an extremely complex subject.
Sometimes a local traffic culture should be corrected because it causes problems. That a road culture can
persist at all in some places is rather easy to understand, especially when traffic on these stretches mainly
consists of locals and/or daily commuters. They are to be compared with the regulars of a village pub. Any
occasional intruder will be likely to try and conform. And as with all such custom-aggregates, there’s a
special problem attached. It’s very difficult to change the ruling range of behaviours, especially where
speed is concerned.
We do know of cases where traffic behaviour on a certain stretch is unusually quiet, polite and obedient
to the regulations. We have been informed that such a situation often persists after a long period in which
surveillance was very strict; our source in this are people with a keen eye for such things: driving instructors,
especially female ones. On the other hand, sections where surveillance hasn’t occurred for many years,tend
to be more unruly, hectic and dangerous. So long-term strict surveillance might be the way to cure locally
occurring dangerous behaviour, or solve complaints from local residents about excessive speed. But that’s
unpopular and in the Netherlands surveillance – and fining – has become rare, cf. previous blog 5a.
Small wonder that traffic safety isn’t improving – or even deteriorating.