28 aug A safe, quick and green cycling experience
Last year, the City of Groningen started the promotional campaign ‘Slimme Routes’ to further the unbundling of traffic flows. The campaign continued this KEIweek as cans of sports drink were handed out to first year students. But what is this Smart Route en why is it smart?
The Smart Route (Dutch: Slimme Route) is not a new and hypermodern cycling route, but a campaign to improve the use of Groningen’s infrastructure. It was set up in 2013 to stimulate cyclists to use alternate routes to the Zernike Campus. The Zonnelaan boasts a good cycling path, but the cyclist’s precedence over turning cars leads to problems. Due to the large numbers of cyclists that pass the northern beltway exit near campus every morning and evening, traffic jams and dangerous situations are not uncommon. To improve the situation, it would help if cyclists took another route to and from Zernike. This concept, the unbundling of traffic flows (Dutch: ontvlechting), improves circulation by reducing the hindrance between different modes of transportation. The Smart Routes lead cyclists by respectively the Jaagpad and Park Selwerd and can be found here. This might sound like a helpful move for cars, but the routes are smart for cyclists, too.
Quick, safe and green
Both Smart Routes are completely free of traffic lights and they use well-maintained cycling paths with little other traffic. That makes them quicker and safer than the Zonnelaan route. Last year, the Universiteitskrant performed a speed test by pitting three bicycle couriers against eachother:
Besides offering the smart choice for speed and safety considerations, the routes are very green. The Jaagpad follows the course of the Reitdiep, while the easterly route leads students by the Wilgenpad en Park Selwerd. For those who want even more trees, the route connects well to the Noorderplantsoen and the Sleedoornpad.
Students often place Zernike north of the city centre mentally, which means the Jaagpad might feel like a detour. A good look at the map learns us that Zernike is more to the west. That means that, from the Herman Colleniusbrug, where the routes meet, the Jaagpad and Zonnelaan hardly differ in length. For destination ACLO, the Jaagpad is clearly shorter, while the Zonnelaan route is up to a few hundred meters shorter for the other side of campus. A little extra distance that is easily compensated by the lack of cars and traffic lights on the Jaagpad! From the city centre, the Noorderstation or the Korreweg, the Smart Route through Park Selwerd is always the shortest.
Little wonder, the promotional campaign has had most succes with this route in 2013. Between May and December, the amount of cyclists increased by 25% to 13.000 a day. That endangers even the position of the Korreweg as Groningen’s busiest cycling route! At first, the Jaagpad was used considerably more, but this route was less attractive as dusk set in earlier by the end of the year. The amount of cyclists on the Zonnelaan increased as well, but hardly as much as the total number of arrivals at Zernike.
The promotional campaign was continued at the KEIweek sports day, as cans of sports drink were handed out at the start of the Jaagpad route near the ACLO. Since students often stick to what they learn first, expectations are that they will use the Smart Routes as long as they study and exercise on campus. The promotional campaign will be followed up on with improvement of the alternate routes, so as to retain their Smart qualifications. What these improvements will entail shall become clear over the next few months. The possibilities of extending the Smart Routes, for example towards the Central Station, are also being looked into.
Photography: Cor van der Veen.