Zoning and forgiving roads in Raalte NL

In the centre of Raalte, a town of about 20,000 people, is the Booijink pig feed factory. In Hamilton the district plan (ODP) states under 2.2.4 Central City, Business and Industry.

(i) The Central City is the primary business centre, serving the City and wider region, and is the preferred location for commercial, civic and social activities

In Raalte the town’s most central activity is an industry making pig food. Next to this factory is a shopping centre and a good number of supermarkets.

All the heavy traffic going to/from the factory and supermarkets travels through the centre of Raalte.


In Hamilton the ODP states at 9.1 that the purpose of land being zoned industrial includes

b) … reducing the potential for non-industrial activities establishing in industrial locations

The Hamilton ODP also states 9.3 Rules – Activity Status 

9.3 Rules – Activity Status – New supermarkets, is a Non Complying activity in an industrial zone

In Raatle, supermarkets and non-industrial land use are all around this factory; this is not normal but it was regarded as manageable before zoning was over-used by town planers. There was a time in Hamilton when “*Barton and Ross operated a large joinery shop in connection with their furniture business ; Mullen and Noys a foundry”; and other industries were in the city centre. A second thing to note is that even though heavy traffic is travelling through the centre of Raatle, the road width is narrow, the kerbs are near flush and where there are bollards they are used to a minimum. The two photos below were taken across the road from the factory.


Moving further to the east, we have the Intersection of Burgemeester Kerssemakersstraa and Kerkstraat. Everything about this/these intersection/s is ‘forgiving’ and one can see the Dutch ‘Sustainable safety’ design elements demonstrating that ‘obstacle-free zones are the most important in this respect’.

On the busy Intersection through Raalte, kerbs, separators and an informal round-about exist; they are placed to maintain wide, separated cycle lanes with the car route scaled to allow for two-directional light vehicular traffic, and because the heights of the obstacles (kerbs, separators and islands) are kept to a minimum, heavy vehicles can still travel through. But here the speed of the heavy vehicles is equal to or lower than that of weaker road users. This means everyone has time to stop and be forgiving when mistakes happen, which they do.End

*1970 November – The Southern Sector of Hamilton’s Central Business Area – Town Planning Office – REF-S-711-552-209-931-151-HAM

Page 3, The two major non-conforming uses are ‘heavy’ industries

Category: News

Post card from Osnabruck

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Osnabruck is a city of 164,374 people, with an area of 120 km2, a population density of 1,400 people per km2 (ppkm2) and an elevation of 63m. Hamilton is a city of 169,300 people, with an area of 110 km2, a population density of 1,500 ppkm2, and an elevation of 40m.

Altstadt (Old Town) Osnabruck covers an area of 1.71 km2 and houses nearly 9,000 people in apartments or houses in the city centre, giving a density of just over 5,000 people per km². Compare this to what the Hamilton Central City Transformation Plan tells us: the Hamilton central area is 1.29 km2, and is home to 3,000 people, giving a density of 2,325 people per km2. So like Altstadt Dusseldorf, the safety benefit of a 24-hour ‘eyes on the street’ population in Hamilton central is half that of Altstadt Osnabruck.

Osnabruck has a university (opened in 1974) with a population of 11,000 students and 1,858 staff. Waikato University (established in 1964) has 9,900 Students and 1,480 staff. In Osnabruck the distance between the city centre campus and suburban campus is 2 km. Waikato University to Garden Place is 4 km. I counted 10 schools in Altstadt Osnabruck. Hamilton has 4 in the central city area if you count Hamilton West School. Altstadt Osnabruck is lively during the day and well into the evening and feels like the living/dining room of the city, rather than a business centre.

During the Second World War, the inner city was badly hit by aerial bombardments, and 94% of it was destroyed. The northern part of the Altstadt still offers a historic view, partly through restorations, but the rest is a mix of post-WW2 building styles. Point to note: where there was more bike parking there were more people.

What I did not see here in the city centre was fields of car parking like in Hamilton, even though motor vehicles are seen in the city centre in the morning. It appears to me they need to have a reason to be there. It is also clear that people have the right to dominate centre city streets, and we can see the benefits of this ‘people first’ approach by looking at their improving travel mode split: 2010 (2008) Car 53 (55), PT 16 (15), Bike 12 (11), Walk 19 (19).

What helps the improving mode shift to biking is the use of good width cycle lanes. Also, many of the intersections are similar to the Dutch ‘sustainable Safety’ thinking: ‘Obstacle-free zones are the most important in this respect’. The evidence that this is working can be seen by the fact that parents allow their children to bike to school.

Osnabruck has also increased the number of people using public transport. The Osnabruck bus network is 425 km long, divided into 24 lines, with 151 scheduled and special vehicles, has more than 800 stops and is used by about 36 million passengers. Hamilton’s urban bus network* has 26 routes (p22*) (5 Satellite routes) (p25*) and an urban patronage of 4.6m (p26*) (Regional patronage 1.7m). Interestingly, Osnabruck uses these bus trailers. I do not know what to think of these; I have ridden in many types of bus and I should of try this but didn’t. From my observations, people were using them.

Hamilton’s bus service is good but under-performing. If has the potential to move 5 times the current number of people when benchmarked against Osnabruck. We have a praiseworthy network and a nice bus fleet in place; the key here is frequency. As you can see, Osnabruck and Hamilton are very similar in many ways, but to me Osnabruck feels like it is ahead of us. We need to change faster.