Dutch Design Enables Beijing’s Active Travel Transition

The Strategy: Transitioning to a Sustainable Transport Network

The City of Beijing has a clear vision: to accelerate and guide the mobility transition by integrating transport and urban planning. Central to shaping the city's mobility system of tomorrow is a focus on the development of safe pedestrian and cycling friendly city to encourage sustainable and active transport.

Active transport in Beijing, such as walking and cycling, has increased steadily over the last few years. Research shows that in the last year, the number of people who choose to travel by bicycle in the city has risen by nearly 10%. According to a local survey, 94% of respondents in the city were willing to use shared bikes.

However, in order to make cycling a quicker, safer, and more convenient mode of transport in Beijing and ensure it becomes a sustainable mode for years to come, new infrastructure is needed.

Cycling Infrastructure Design

Royal HaskoningDHV, a member of the Dutch Cycling Embassy, was selected by the Beijing government to support the first phase in this transition to a more sustainable transport network, creating a concept for a world-class cycling highway in Tongzhou, also known as the Eastern gateway to the capital.

The Tongzhou Bicycle Planning and Design Pilot includes creating the conceptual design of a 2.7km cycling highway, a review into the design of bike-friendly streets to enhance conformity with the Dutch design standards, an artist's impression of a cycling bridge spanning 120 meters, along with multiple renderings to enable the stakeholder engagement sessions.

With the public sector of the municipal government shifting to the Tongzhou district, it is anticipated that there will be significant growth and development within the urban space, putting subsequent pressure on accessibility and livability standards. By creating the cycling highway which will connect Tongzhou's center to new housing districts, it will make it easier, safer, and more accessible for them to commute by bicycle or foot, instead of using automobiles. It is envisaged that the pilot will be a key enabler for active transport and become a popular cycling highway when it is opens in 2023 to the public, and act as an exemplar of sustainable mobility for the whole city, and even the whole country.

Cycling Design and Implementation

To achieve this, Royal HaskoningDHV partnered with China Sustainable Transportation Center, a Beijing design bureau. To promote frequent usage, the most direct route was chosen; crossing a canal, railway track and highway. Hence, the cycling highway was designed partially at an elevation to avoid crossings on the same level. The route is also linked to the riverside trail, heritage park, and other public areas.

Human-centric Design to Encourage Cycling

Drawing on Dutch design standards, the pilot section has a maximum slope of 2% instead of 3.5% making it more cyclist friendly.

For the parallel section at Luxian Ancient City Heritage Park, the design is integrated with the heritage park to blend into the natural environment. Based on experience from the Netherlands, a hydrophilic platform was also designed at the water's edge to ensure the cycle path sat above water level.

To enhance comfort and safety for cyclists at the crossings of both Tongzhou-Yanjiao Expressway and Beijing-Qinhuangdao Railway, it was suggested that new tunnels are built. The concept is based on the Rijnwaalpad in Arnhem and Nijmegen and the Amsterdam Central Station tunnels. This enables the crossings – that are usually built at the rear end of the city – to become an attractive, yet functional, feature.

The cycling highway crosses the Yunchaojian River Bridge and was designed to integrate Dutch bridge design concepts with Chinese traditional culture. The "solidified silk" is an example of sustainable design and includes ecologically sustainable functions such as shading and sheltering from the rain, reduced air resistance, and collecting rainwater.

To find out more about how Dutch design can encourage cycling and active transport in your city, get in touch with Jasper Homrighausen via LinkedIn or visit this webpage

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