Happy cyclists in Leiden: the Follow Green pilot project

Leiden cyclists wanting to cross the intersection of the Langegracht and the Klokpoort can now take advantage of a unique system consisting of LED lights. These lights have been installed into the natural stone barrier separating the kerb from the bicycle path and have been designed to calculate an advisory travel speed: essentially, they act as timers that indicate how much time is left before the traffic light turns red. Individual segments of the advisory bicycle speed sensor system have been programmed to switch off one by one, thus providing a visual representation of the remaining time.

At the end of last year, DTV Consultants investigated how users experience this so-called “Follow Green” pilot project. Stephan van der Perk, traffic engineer for the city of Leiden: “We envisioned the Follow Green project as a means to offer cyclists the best possible facilities and a comfortable cycling experience. To translate that vision and those expectations into reality, we knew it was time to move on to the implementation phase.

Positive user feedback

In a survey, a few hundred people were asked to share their opinions on the pilot study. The mission was successful in that the majority of participants stated that they were very pleased with the outcome of the project. Seventy-five percent of survey respondents reported a clear understanding of the aims of the programme and stated that the lights had encouraged them to engage in the promoted behaviour change (i.e. adjusting their cycling speed). Cyclists who reported that they did not adjust their cycling speed were usually already pedalling at the correct speed. With an average rating of 7.4/10, the survey research clearly shows a largely positive attitude towards the project.

Assessing and Monitoring Behaviour Change

In addition to surveying the cyclists, DTV Consultants also monitored their traffic behaviour by using cameras. Due to the fact that the LED lights have been programmed to only switch on the moment the traffic light turns green, only 1 in 6 passing cyclists actually got to witness the lights being switched on. Those who did, however, managed to cross before the light turned red, and we would call that a resounding success. The independent review by DTV Consultants’ independent review provided convincing evidence that cyclists have benefited from this project.

Next steps and future plans

The evaluation carried out by DTV Consultants on behalf of the municipality of Leiden provides valuable insights into further applications of the pilot project. Van der Perk: “The bicycle reigns supreme in Leiden, and we will therefore continue to pay attention to developments in this area and to use the insights we gained from analysing the data. In fact, further improvements to the pilot project are already in the works!”

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