Cycle Highway Vlijmen – ’s-Hertogenbosch

The old road from Vlijmen to ‘s-Hertogenbosch has been upgraded as a cycle road. The road had become obsolete for motorised traffic when in 1978 a motorway was opened. The old road was closed with heavy blocks of concrete and had not been a through route for motorised traffic anymore. This made it a quiet route that cyclists have been using ever since. Now the road was finally due for maintenance. The municipalities of ‘s-Hertogenbosch and Heusden (to which Vlijmen belongs) joined forces and turned the road into a real cycle highway. (Note: not a ‘super’ highway…)

Moerputtenweg, Vlijmen
The former road from Vlijmen to ‘s-Hertogenbosch used to be a ‘normal’ road, it was used for cyclists only for 34 years, but it was now changed to a cycle highway.

I contacted the department of city development of ‘s-Hertogenbosch and the traffic engineers gave me some facts and background information about this route.

The total route is 4 kilometers long, of which about 2 kilometers on the territory of ‘s-Hertogenbosch. In the 2009 six-year Cycle Plan to update all cycle infrastructure in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, this route was designated as one of the main cycle routes.

The costs of the transformation from ordinary road to cycle highway were 1.5 million euros for just the part of ‘s-Hertogenbosch. The largest part, 600,000 euro, came from the budget of the Cycle Plan. A further 500,000 euro came from the regular road maintenance budget and the final 400,000 euro were a subsidy from the provincial government.

The high number of cyclists (about 1,200 every working day) and the aspect of social safety made it necessary to have the route lit at night after the upgrade. However, from the point of light pollution it is not wanted to light the route in a conventional way. Especially since it passes right next to an area protected under European law, a so-called Natura 2000 protected wildlife area.

So ‘dynamic lighting’ was installed. When a cyclist passes a detection pole the lights for a certain length of the route are turned up and down again when the cyclist reaches the next detection pole that in turn changes the lights for a further stretch of the route. This reduces the light pollution. The masts are all equipped with modern led lighting which reduces the amount of energy needed. This system of lighting cost 130,000 euros (for the 2 kilometers on ‘s-Hertogenbosch territory) and that was included in the costs I mentioned before.

Vlijmenseweg, 's-Hertogenbosch
After the transformation the road has become a real cycle highway.

Part of the route is still used by motorised traffic as it is the only access to a trailer park. The people living there were not happy that “their” road was turned into a cycle road. They were very against the fact that the road was narrowed. As a compromise the width of the red part of the road in asphalt is the same on the entire route but the part that is the access road has wider concrete sides to make it exactly the same width as the former road. In turn the city created four speed bumps instead of the one that was already there. The city’s engineer explains: “The people living in the trailer park have been known to speed here in the past and you can’t have that on a cycle road. The former single speed bump was placed in a curve and could not be seen properly, so by adding three more we tried to increase safety. The results so far are more or less acceptable.”

Both municipalities have made some different choices. For instance: Heusden used a cheaper foundation for their part, but on the other hand they have planted 48 new trees.

The local branch of the Cyclists’ Union in Heusden (Fietserbond De Langstraat) is very enthusiastic about the route and they want to seize the opportunity to extend the route with about ten more kilometers to the West, to connect a further three towns with this high speed cycle route to ‘s-Hertogenbosch. Not that there is no connection for cyclists now, but the current more touristic route leads right through all towns and has some (for Dutch standards) problematic junctions, a high speed cycle route would take away those problems. The Cyclist’s Union has presented an integral plan to the Heusden authorities early May 2012. They believe works on the route could be finished before the end of 2016.

Extension to the west
In green the now built cycle highway from ‘s-Hertogenbosch to Vlijmen. In purple the proposed extension to the West by about 10 kilometers. The local branch of the Cyclists’ Union believes it could be built before the end of 2016.

On the territory of ‘s-Hertogenbosch there is one part of the route still missing. For 150 meters there is no cycle provision at all. That has a reason. This is close to the new city hospital and there is still a discussion going on about how to build parking facilities there. It would not be very wise to build something now that has to be changed again soon. So once that is all cleared up the city wants to create a fully separated cycle path there too, to finish the entire route. The route connects to existing cycling infrastructure all the way to the city centre. I will show you more about that final part into the city centre in an upcoming post with video.

This post would not be complete with a before and after video of the entire length of the route, from the start in Vlijmen until just passed the edge of ‘s-Hertogenbosch built up area.

10 thoughts on “Cycle Highway Vlijmen – ’s-Hertogenbosch

  1. Building these roads for cyclists works fine to calm the traffic, for on short distances people will tend to take the bike more often. But what of other ways to discourage car use?
    What I really liked in Den Bosch when I went shopping there is the cheap way of parking the car and hop on a bus or bike to the center: the Transferium. Always a parking spot, quick access. It works in many large cities in the Netherlands. If you ban cars from the center, it will be much more pleasant for walking and cycling. I just missed a rental bike last time I was there.

    Mark, can you show the measures involved for cars some time? Like transferia, ring roads, etc. Where do you leave the cars, and how do you still get people where they need to be, without them using their car? It’s not that you can just exclude cars and expect things will resolve themselves. Less cars in the cities takes all kinds of measures.

      1. Oh yes, I forgot about that one… Brilliant! You made so many videos I tend to forget.

    1. Inside the built up area the default speed limit is 50 km/h that can be lowered to 30. But this is outside the built up area so here the default maximum speed is 80 km/h and here the lower speed can therefore only be 60 km/h. Which is fast for a cycle road but current law offers no lower options. This can only work with extremely low numbers of motorised traffic and that is the case here. Equivalent to the German “Anlieger frei”

      1. Even better, this is a so-called rural road, open for all traffic (roads with speed limits of 70 km/h and over are not open for pedestrians, bicycles and -often- tractors). Speed limit is 60 km/h and they are generally not even signposted so for locals only. Turning this specific road into a bicycle road would probably have involved far more bureaucracy (and red paint) than simply putting up a 60 km/h sign.

      2. @Frits B I don’t really understand what you are trying to say? This is not a road open for all traffic, on the contrary. You can only enter it as a resident on the road itself. No through traffic but only traffic on a ‘need to be there’ basis.

      3. You’re right and I’m wrong, probably confused when overlooking some details. Being familiar with “ruilverkavelingsweggetjes” also didn’t help. But on a second and third viewing I think I saw what Todd means by his question “60?”. At 4.14 in your second video a stretch of cycle road starts with a “no motorized vehicles” sign, a bollard and no visible entry for cars and such following those signs. Yet there is a 60 km/h sign a short distance on. It’s too far away for me to look for myself, and I’m sure there must be a good explanation …

        1. Yes that is a strange 60 sign. But motorized traffic IS permitted on both sides of the bollards and I think the law requests a sign after a junction so even while cars can only enter the road from the other end a sign must be placed here too.

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