Balancing Road Diets With Emergency Access

Examples from the Netherlands show how bike lanes and traffic calming can coexist with effective emergency response.

1 minute read

April 10, 2024, 10:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Chicago fire department fire truck driving down street with blurred background indicating motion at nighttime.

Julian / Adobe Stock

An article by Streetsblog USA staff seeks to resolve the conflict between road safety advocates and first responders, who sometimes oppose bike lanes and other safety interventions citing concerns about emergency access.

The article highlights a conversation in Streetsblog’s The Brake podcast that describes “how the Netherlands and other countries have navigated the challenge of building EMS-friendly streets that aren't hostile to people outside cars.”

According to the authors of a new study from the Dutch Cycling Embassy, “one thing that Dutch cities do remarkably well that the US can learn from is the network isolation of their streets and creating this hierarchy of streets so that we do have these arterial roads that the emergency vehicles can use them for the vast majority of their journey. And then maybe the last 200 meters will be on a traffic calmed local street.” The authors say emergency personnel is involved in decisionmaking early to address any potential issues.

The study authors note that many Dutch towns use smaller trucks where appropriate; “in some cities, it was completely fine to start introducing the smaller fire trucks because there are so many water access points along their routes, that's in the end, you don't bring all the water where you where you work with.”

Tuesday, April 9, 2024 in Streetsblog USA

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