How much can a city’s street change in about a decade? Before/after images from Utrecht

Utrecht gets a lot of international attention that even surprises Dutch cycling experts… so, what’s the wow factor in Utrecht?

From visiting the city over years, one of its big attractions is the extent of how many of its streets have been changed to be more people and greenary friendly in the last 10 years or so. Google Street View has a fantastic record of the changes:

Before/after images of Dafne Schippersbrug pedestrian and bicycle bridge in Utrecht — the bridge was built on top of re-built school. The project included some new housing too.

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From narrow cycle lanes to ‘bicycle street’ treatment with ‘cars are guests’ signs on Leidseweg in Utrecht. Not all bicycle streets are equal this works well because already in place was an alternating one-way system for motorists which filters most cars etc out.

A city centre bicycle street – the Voorstraat used to have a contra-flow cycle path. That’s been replaced with more space for pedestrians / multiuse space including seating, bike parking etc.

Caution trying this at home unless your city’s car restrictions and cycling levels are high.

A view from a bridge, Marga Klompébrug, of Utrecht’s city centre motorway-to-canal transition:

A view in the other direction on Marga Klompébrug in Utrecht — the motorway-to-canal switch was part of the redevelopment of the central train station area and shopping centre:

And the before/after from the other side of the buildings in the last images in central:

Another view of Utrecht’s motorway-to-canal transition — just to be clear here, while there are motorways around the outskirts of Utrecht, no new underground road was built in this area to accommodate this change, in fact, the opposite is true…

The parallel road on the other side of the train station, Croeselaan, it was a really wide road. But it has not just been reduced in size to make way for more greenery, it is also no longer a through route for motorists.

This is nearly more noteworthy than the canal project:

This is Balijelaan, on a route that links into Croeselaan.

When the bus lane was no longer needed (because of a European-style BRT project which gave most buses a more direct route with priority), the bus lane space was given over to 2-way cycle paths on both sides of the road:

On the next parallel road route over, ‘t Goylaan, which is part of Utrecht’s inner circular road, the change is striking:

Back to closer to Utrecht Centraal station… there’s still some very large roads around here, but this section of Westplein shows some of the dramatic changes that have happened and are likely to be extended:

On the city centre side of the train tracks, Smakkelaarskade has been a building site for over a decade, and the area is now taking some shape — Smakkelaarskade is now a bicycle street with very limited motoring access:

And this is on the other side of the former motorway / now canal at Catharijnekade… The former motorway is a trench here under street level to the right of the first image here:

Down the road on Amsterdamsestraatweg, this junction was upgraded to a protected junction design… again there was space taken from motorists here to make this possible:

Utrecht isn’t perfect, it’s like any city should be a work in progress. This is Oudenoord, in Utrecht:

Another example of this work-in-progress is Bleekstraat — from cycle lanes to cycle paths, but up ahead, more to be done:

At J.M. de Muinck Keizerlaan a redeign from complex junction to walking and cycling priority roundabout:

At Moezeldreef this junction was redesigned from a T-junction to a roundabout with walking and cycling priority:

From a dead-end to a railway underpass:

Brennerbaan had a two-way cycle path and access via service streets/car parking areas on one side of the road, then another two-way cycle path was added as part of the upgraded priority cycle route to Houten — this was done using space gained from removing turning lanes:

Another part of the route to Houten — it’s a reminder that it’s not just about cycling, but a modal shift to cycling is a key element which allows for a lot of the greening showing in the above examples:

This is just a sample of Utrecht… what has your city done in the last 10 years or so and what will it do in the next decade?

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