My girlfriend and I recently returned from a European cycling holiday through Denmark, Germany, Holland, Belgium and Switzerland. Of course, I was very interested in the cycling infrastructure and cycling culture (in Denmark, Germany and Holland in particular) and made sure to take some photos and videos for reference.
Here are some of my favourites...
Prizes for Best Bicycle Parking
3rd Place - On-beach Bicycle Parking (North Sea, Germany)
With the cars parked hundreds of metres from the beach, bicycles had their own boardwalk and racks directly on the beach.
2nd Place - Bicycle Underground Parking (Copenhagen)
Bikes are led along a bike path directly to the plentiful undercover parking provided right at the front door of the shopping centre.
1st Place - Train Station Parking
At almost every train station in Denmark and Holland there were hundreds of undercover bike racks right at the station entrance (but it was still hard to find a spare space at times). At major stations, capacity was up to 10,000 bikes and there were bike mechanics and secure parking facilities. This multi-story bikepark on the water in Amsterdam was one of the best examples...
Prizes for Best Bike Signage
3rd Prize - Informative Bicycle Signs
Occasionally, you'd see great signs like these to help cyclists.
2nd Prize - Along-Route Bicycle Signs
Not only do you get directions along the cycle routes, you also get clearly marked distances. Major cycle routes like the North Sea Cycle Route are also usually marked with special tags (hanging from the signs).
1st Place - Bicycle Signs (a whole different paradigm)
These bicycle signs in Holland did not just point you to the next town, but provided detailed maps of the town you were in with location numbers that you could ride to. At first, I thought that the numbers were route numbers, but then when I looked at the maps, it became clear that the numbers were actually location numbers. This sort of strategy is needed when there are many routes and when additional routes are added (which usually creates many broken routes). The numbering system does not need to be adjusted as new routes are added (since no routes are bisected). I hope that makes sense...
Prizes for Best Bicycle Paths
It is really hard to pick just 3 examples from all the bike paths I've been riding on, but I've picked these 3 examples because they are interesting rather than because they are 'the best' bikes lanes.
3rd Place - Bike Lanes take Priority
On quiet roads, rather than have separated cycle facilities, sometimes just marking the road differently can help. On this road, bikes are given priority and cars are requested to use the narrow centre section. Of course, cars can still use the bike lanes, but this this sort of line marking really legitamises the place of bicycles on these roads.
2nd Place - Almost Every Road in Copenhagen
Almost every major city road in Copenhagen has a bike path like the one shown below (or wider). What is particularly interesting about this lane is how the bus stop is treated. Notice the railing (to stop wandering pedestrians) and the pedestrian crossing across the bike path. The designers of the Epping Rd bike path could learn a thing or two from this design. Rather than have pedestrians and cyclists constantly crossing each other along the path, this design firmly delineates between the bike path and the foot path. Then the bus stop is treated as an island that has an access point.
1st Place - Canal Tunnels Near Rotterdam
The Dutch take cycling seriously. Wherever there is a facility for a car, the Dutch do everything possible to ensure that there is facility of equal or better utility for cyclists. There were two tunnels under major canals that really showed how seriously they take this challenge. They were almost like the Sydney Harbour Tunnel but they also had lifts to make the climb at each end a bike easier...
The video is a few minutes long so you may want to skip through it. There was a second tunnel that was even nicer than this one, but the video was longer so I used this one instead...