Delft

I recently spent a week in Delft for the WSTLUR conference. My visits to Rotterdam and Houten are detailed in other posts.

As a place to consider the relationship between transport and land use (the mission of both WSTLUR and streets.mn), Delft provides an ideal place that should be used as a model for emulation by planners.

Like most travelers I arrived in Delft via train (from Schiphol Airport). Aside from payment issues that Americans face due to lack of PIN and Chip (which will be rectified in 2015), train is extremely convenient, running on a frequent intercity schedule, even at 6:30 am on a Sunday morning, even with works being undertaken. It is a little bit confusing for the non-Dutch speaker, especially when certain trains don’t follow the printed schedule, but the electronic message boards will state which trains go to which destinations. However while the platform is usually given, the track may be dynamic, so pay attention. In any case, you can just ask a native (they are taller than you), almost all of whom speak English.

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On the train it is even simpler.

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Delft has an old railroad station that has seen better days. It is near the Tram Line, but due to works, the exit path is a bit circuitous.

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The new train station will be open soon, I am not clear if they are adding tracks.

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Lots of bikes park at the station.

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Along just about any street of importances, where bikes are cars don’t share space, bikes have dedicated, separated cycle tracks, lanes parallel to, but separated from, the adjacent motor vehicle lanes. These cycletracks, and the bike trails in general, are also apparently open to mopeds and motor scooters. Sometimes it is separated by short concrete barriers that allow water to flow. These appear to be retrofits.

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The separation is often done by vertical rather than horizontal spacing, that is, the cycle track is immediately adjacent to the roadway, but elevated maybe 10 cm.

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Cars are allowed for residents, but retractable bollards keep non-residents and unauthorized vehicles from driving and parking on local streets. (Some tour buses seem permitted as well).

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The canals define the city.

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There are pedestrian/bike/motorbike tunnels that are widely used despite US fears of unsafety and graffiti.

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The tunnels themselves may be below sea level

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The town square (the Markt in Centrum) is programmed with lots of activities on the weekend. On Sunday it was innovative environmental technologies …

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and acrobats.

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Another square (De Beestenmarkt, where various beasts were once traded) is home to outdoor drinking and dining.

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Saturday is market day.

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The public transport buses in town are contracted out to a private company Veolia.

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In many places, there are shared spaces, including both commercial districts,

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along the canals,

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and residential neighborhoods.

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Delft is a tourist destination in its own right, and adjacent to a major university: TU Delft, thereby generating additional demand.
The campus of TU Delft is getting a tram, but in the meantime relies on bus.

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In short, it is beautiful. The buildings are (mostly) beautiful. The canals are beautiful. The public squares are beautiful. The cobblestone streets are beautiful. The massing and scale is beautiful. Also, it is entirely walkable or bikeable.

My Flickr sets are here 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.