Hovenring during construction

Spectacular New Floating Cycle Roundabout

The bright white 70 meters (230Ft) tall bridge pylon can be seen from far away. Attached to the top are 24 cables that suspend a large bicycle roundabout, 72 meters (236Ft) in diameter, that seems to float over a large new junction for motorized traffic. This roundabout can be found in Eindhoven and it is called Hovenring. The exceptional piece of bicycle infrastructure was built to stand out. It is to be the iconic new landmark that signals ‘you are entering Eindhoven’. At night the slender bike ring is lit from below to further enhance that floating effect.

Hovenring Floating Bicycle Roundabout
A new landmark for Eindhoven/Veldhoven and Meerhoven: the Hovenring floating bicycle roundabout.

Thus far this was an extremely large rural roundabout (officially a ‘traffic circle’ because of the right of way arrangements) with separated cycle paths all around it. Google shows us the old situation. Google is getting outdated very quickly, because of all the new infra that is being built in the Netherlands, but as a historic reference it is perfect. Now why did this have to change? It had cycle paths and there were traffic lights to control the flow of traffic. But to the Dutch that is not safe enough anymore. Yes, there was separation, but at the places of crossing motorized traffic and cyclists were only separated in time and not in place. When people make mistakes (going through a red light for instance) this could still lead to dangerous situations. The area is full of new housing with a lot of children and especially for those kids cycling to school, the new situation is far better. Now, both types of traffic are completely separated in time and also in place, so cyclists can pass this large junction safely and without stopping.

Hovenring, before situation
Google shows us the before situation. An enormous traffic lights controlled roundabout with separated cycle paths all around it.

The roads are very wide –especially for the Netherlands– but that is because this is the main entrance to Eindhoven, Veldhoven and the suburb Meerhoven from the A2, the most important North-South motorway in the Netherlands. Every day 25,000 vehicles pass this junction. The city wanted to emphasize this importance. Eindhoven is considered a brain port and feels it has a leading role in innovation and technology. All those qualities had to be reflected in the high quality design for this new piece of infrastructure: “spectacular in simplicity”.

Hovenring during construction
An aerial picture of the Hovenring bicycle roundabout during construction. (Photo Ronald Otten)

Building such a unique ‘circular bridge’ was more difficult than expected. During construction, early 2012, the cables vibrated much more than they were supposed to in the Dutch winds. Experts recalculated the design specifications and with some modifications and counter weights the cables became much more stable. People questioned why it was necessary to have cyclists go up so high. They feared the gradient of the entrance ramps would be too steep. But the city explained on its website that cyclists have to go up less than it seems, because the junction was constructed below surface level. The gradients are different on all sides, but range from just 1.86% to 3.09%. Well within the standards CROW and other organizations in the Netherlands set. An ultimate test with a mobility scooter proved that even those could take the entrances with ease.

For a long time it was a bit mysterious what this bridge had cost because the amounts were mostly including the whole redesign of the carriage way. IPV Delft now mentions on its website that the “construction costs” of the Hovenring itself were 6.3 million Euros.

Opening festivities June 29th, 2012.

The roundabout was opened on June 29th, 2012 in an afternoon of festivities. An alderman of Eindhoven and one of Veldhoven opened the bridge, decorated with balloons, in a four wheel bike race. It was a –staged– photo finish. After the speeches there was music and there were games for children. The city offered drinks and –rather fitting for their shape– doughnuts. A striking high number of children came to see this new and exceptional piece of cycling infrastructure with their parents. Many older people were also curious enough to come and have a look.

“Normal” use on Sunday, August 12th, 2012.

One and a half months later I decided to visit the roundabout again to see how it is actually used without festive music and balloons. I only had 15 minutes to film but many cyclists passed in that short amount of time. This clearly is a well-used roundabout by all types of young and older, faster and slower cyclists.

This floating roundabout is not something that exists by itself. It is part of an elaborate cycle network. It would be pretty useless to have a ring like this without an underlying connected cycle network so people can actually get to this piece of remarkable infrastructure. More on the Eindhoven network in this follow up blog post.

The same designers were also responsible for a bridge in Enschede.

There is now also a post that shows this Hovenring at night!

Update: Norway also has a ring!

29 August 2012: The city of Eindhoven calls this roundabout the “world’s first floating cycle roundabout”. I did not call it that deliberately, because you never know what has already been built elsewhere. As it turns out, that was a good decision because there is another roundabout like this one. Granted, it is not floating (suspended), but apart from that it looks very similar. Tjensvollkrysset in Stavanger (Norway) is also 72 meters in diameter. It is not as wide and not as slender as the Eindhoven ring, in fact, when you are used to seeing the open and light Eindhoven ring it looks a bit chunky with all that gray concrete, but other than that it is remarkably similar. It was opened in 2010. The Eindhoven ring was designed from 2008 so both cities probably had the same idea without knowing it from each other. The Norwegian ring was much more expensive, 120 million Kroner or 16.4 million Euros, versus the 6.3 million the Eindhoven ring has cost. In Stavanger there is more much motorized traffic: 40,000 vehicles per day vs. 25,000 in Eindhoven. It would be nice to know if that is because of more cyclists in Eindhoven.

Stavanger also called it the “World’s largest cycle crossing“. Well that is also no longer true, both rings have the exact same diameter.

Stavanger cycle roundabout
The Stavanger cycle ring with the exact same diameter (72 meters) as the Eindhoven ring.
Stavanger cycle roundabout
The Stavanger cycle roundabout is a lot heavier with the thick concrete edge and the cycle track is a lot narrower than the Eindhoven cycle roundabout.

167 thoughts on “Spectacular New Floating Cycle Roundabout

  1. what a waste of money that should have been spent on improving traffic flow not on stupid bicycles that you have to pedal to go faster they are all probably smoking too much weed and shagging to many prostitutes to be able to spend money on proper forms of transport

  2. Very safe bridge, but not one biker is wearing a HELMET !! Much cheaper and safer to make public focus on helmet rather than $$$$ for bridge.

    1. Tell me, how does a helmet help separate bicycle and car traffic? Surely it’s cheaper and safer to have cars not hit cyclists than to limit any consequences of such a collision?

        1. Well, Poe’s Law might apply.

          To be honest, too often have I seen comments and even posts on (other) blogs where I thought “You’re being ironic, right? Right?! RIGHT?!?” and it turned to be their honest (and deluded) opinion.

    2. Making or suggesting helmets makes cycling seem like a dangerous activity. Driving a car in the US has a very high risk, so why not make drivers and passengers wear a helmet to use a car. If it did, then driving cars would seem very dangerous, which it actually is. In the Netherlands, cycling is a very safe thing to do.

  3. The Hovenring is a finalist in the Dutch Design Awards.
    When you like it you can vote on the Hovenring at
    The costs mentioned in other posts are most of the time costs for the building of the entire infrastructure, the lowering and building of the traffic intersection, the bridge, the landscape, etc. The costs of the bridge were about 7 million.

  4. This is fantastic.I quickly search for further information after seeing a photo in National Geographic Magazine.I’m still in awe.

  5. This is an example of the useful and ascetically pleasing architecture we could have in the USA, if only most of our tax money was not absorbed by the security state.

  6. This thing is atrocious! I don’t doubt that engineers have fallen in love with it, because they love machines more than they love people. Roundabouts are indeed awesome, and this one could be awesome if it were for cars! Like this… the bikers are breathing all the toxic smoke of the cars below (yes, hot gas goes upwards!)…
    Bikers still have to go UP to get into the roundabout, while cars are always going on level roads, no ups & downs. And if not, cars can go up and down without need for extra ramps, ladders, lifts, and what-not.
    Cars don’t mind steepness, people do–especially old, tired, with low mobility! And if the upper roundabout were for cars… there would not be any need for a second roundabout *under* it. Now *that* would be cost-saving!

    1. It is not so obvious but the cars do go down! They do not have the advantage of staying level. Cars are over a metre below surface so the people on bicycles do not have to go up as high as they would have. People on bicycles had to cycle all around the old roundabout and stop for lights. The distance is much shorter now and can be done without stopping. It is much nicer to be up on the ring than it would be in dark tunnels under a car roundabout. It is really not so bad as you think.

    2. What is atrocious is riding with your family only to be mashed by some boob not paying attention to driving. If you are afraid of hills, don’t bike or get one of those electric fake bikes. And sorry, breathing car fumes is a hazard of biking in traffic. Your comment has made anyone considering biking turn away from one of the best things on, and for, this planet. You should be proud.

      1. I’m sorry… i don’t understand at all what you are talking about. The ‘boobs’ in cars (not paying attention) are nowhere near the cyclists. So I understand you would rather not use this facility and mix with the cars below, and wait among the cars for the lights to turn green, and breathe the fumes there, while watching out for trucks turning right, instead of bypassing all that one level higher. And you blame Mark for instigation people to use bicycle facilites meant to make cycling more pleasant and safe.
        If you comment on Dutch facilities, please make sure you know what you are talking about. It doesn’t come across as too intelligent this way.

  7. The most common roundabout crash type for cyclists, according to the New Zealand study, involves a motor vehicle entering the roundabout and colliding with a cyclist who already is travelling around the roundabout (generally just over 50% of all cyclist/roundabout crashes in New Zealand fall into this category). The next most common crash type they discovered involves motorists leaving the roundabout, colliding with cyclists who are continuing farther around the perimeter of the roundabout. Designs that have marked perimeter cycle lanes are found by their research data to be even less safe than those without them, suggesting that in roundabouts, cyclists should “take the lane”, operating as a vehicle rather than tracking around the perimeter. The remedy these researchers advised to cure this was applying the rule prohibiting overtaking and passing on the circular roadway to motor vehicles overtaking cyclists.

    1. Yes, that is consistent with Dutch research: cycle lanes are dangerous, but the conclusion is a different one. The Dutch then conclude that separated protected cycle tracks must be built. Separated cycle tracks DO make cyclists safer, a lot safer than they are by taking the lane. Because the space between the two gives drivers the chance to deal with motorised traffic first and then look for cyclists. The space also gives them a place to stop for cyclists without being in the way of other motorised traffic. That makes a big difference.

      1. The New Zealand bicycle lanes on roundabouts were only paint marking a narrow strip at the outside edge of the roadway. Dutch separation at roundabouts shown in this blog involves completely separate roadways parallel with that used by motor vehicles. Different degree of separation, different result.

        A painted narrow strip on the side of the main carriageway allows a motorist to see the cyclist as being “separate” from the motor traffic, but a paint line won’t stop cars and lorries cutting corners. Two or three metres of grass is a much bigger defence from brain-dead motorists.

  8. Wow, wish the UK government would take cyclists this seriously. One thing that did strike me was the lack of helmets on all the riders, are they not common practise in Holland?

    1. In Holland rarely anybody wears a helmet. Experiencing risk is not an obvious thing. It is not since long that the law declares bikers and pedestrians never to be guilty in case of an accident. The behaviour of bike riders got more daring – in many parts of the cities cars may only up to 30 kmh, about 20 mile an hour so some (young) bikers just circle around without any notice of any traffic. I call them the kamikaze bikers. Bikers of all ages take posession of the pavements, officially the domain of the walking citizen.
      Biking is fine, freedom too but a limit to freedom a neccesity.

        1. Frits you make a point with a website that is called (translated) “tasteless.nl” and says about itself that it is “insinuating, unfounded and needlessly offensive!”?

      1. If they point out a ridiculous situation which is the result of city authorities not knowing how to tackle a problem, why not?

      2. It is about misbehaving cyclists but even more about the inadequate way politicians tried to remedy the problem. The link in the articles refers to this: http://amsterdam.groenlinks.nl/node/67513
        which in turn refers to a PDF proposal. Amsterdam has almost 3 times as many bicycles as it has inhabitants and the old city must do with essentially the 1600s street plan. If as a city government you want to keep unruly cyclists in check, sending jobless people out into the streets with hi-viz vests who must explain to cyclists why they should use bicycle parkings (which are either insufficient or too far away) instead of tying their bikes to any sturdy object available will not have any noticeable result, especially not in Amsterdam.

    2. To answer your question clearly: no it is not common practise in the Netherlands for every day cyclists to wear cycle helmets. Only racers do sometimes wear helmets. The use of helmets for cylists is highly disputed. In the Netherlands people in general do not think highly of bicycle helmets. Especially in English speaking countries it is different, but in most of the world helmets are not commonly worn while cyling.

      1. I would not ride without a helmet. I have had two bad falls, one on ice and one were the pavement twisted the front wheel and I went flying at 25 kph. Cracks in my helmet not my head. The NL health dept should be tracking cracked heads of cyclists and permanent brain disabilities.If you crack you head you can lose your future. It would be good to know if the cracked head numbers in NL are low or if everyone is just in denial and the lack of helmet is a social preference not a clear look at the risk of permanent brain injury.

        1. There is no evidence to suggest that the Dutch suffer more head injuries than other nations. Dutch bicycles in their design are also safer, with riders sitting up, rather than leaning forwards, as they often are in other countries.

          Helmets make your head larger and heavier, increasing the risk of head impact should you fall…

    3. I too wish the UK Government would lake cycling seriously.Cycling is not a dangerous form of sport and if you have respect from car drivers like you do in Holland/Norway there is no need to wear these stupid helmets.

  9. Is there any chance to have the actual PLANS of this?? In Brazil there are few people interesting in building one.

  10. The dutch government obviously let bikes ride on every part of the road in any direction, as you can see on the second video. This is not a concious choise, rather a result of lazy governance. I prefer a a bit more regulated, streamlined flow of traffic.
    The part of the roundaboutbridge leading to the central circle meet the circle in an angle of ninety degrees, a sharper angle that urges users to take the right (i.c. counterclockwise) direction would be my favorite.
    Biking is fine, freedom too , but a limit to freedom a neccesity.

  11. @Mark, @Koen, @Frits B: thanks for all this info regarding these special bikes.
    Combined with the extensive cycle path network in the NL, I’m sure they can provide an incredible sense of freedom for everyone, of every physical condition!

    1. Mark, could this be interesting for a new post, how cycling infrastructure is of importance for the handicapped/ disabled? I see wheelchairs and mobility scooters using the cycle paths all the time since I started to look for them after you wrote this post….

  12. Yeah, this is one reason we hate the Dutch in Michigan (USA) too. Here in the “motor capital” (a pretense we strenuously maintain), bicycles are derided and hated and so are bicycle riders. Every time a simple bike lane is laid on a street: the groans and roars of outrage are loud & frequent. Not only that: we hate it that the Dutch have universal medical care – because it disproves the rants from the “private medicine” right wing corps. Darned Dutch: always quietly showing us Americans what competence means. LOL!

  13. Y’see this is why we hate the Dutch here in TX, and why you have a 33% bike mode share and we have a 0.5% bike mode share…

  14. great innovation and a super structure for travel. pre-planning of multi-modal is vital and needs to become commonplace every day. the NW US is generally cycle friendly, but can always use more of this kind of vision. wondering: what was the cost?

    1. The latest info (in the paper this week) was that this whole new design has cost 20 million euros, including the restructuring of the junction below it. 20 million euros amounts to 25 million US$. See also the discussion about this in other comments.

  15. Does anyone know what is the brand of the 4-wheel bicycle in the opening ceremony video?
    Speaking of bikes of special kind, I’ve also spotted a “bike + wheelchair” model, at 1:06 in the “normal use” video. Again, I’d be interested to have more info about it.

    1. Yes, I know the brand of the 4-wheel bicycle. They are called “Floow” and they’re electric too. After the ceremony everybody could do a test-ride for free and I did a few laps too. Quite spectacular I must say. They can be rented or bought and this is the “GoWithTheFloow website

      1. @Bicycledutch: if this looks too much like an ad please remove the video. I didn’t realize the full extent when posting the link.

      2. I like this one even better, about a Rotary club gifting a different model to an older people’s home, thereby giving some elderly people a much larger range of activities:

        And yes, he rides in winter, on cycle paths.

  16. I’m wondering why it isn’t a spiral. Also, since it’s suspended on cables from a central pole, like a fairgraound ride, why it doesn’t sin gently. If a second spiral was set in the reverse direction, cyclists could decelerate onto the spinning platform, and be accelerated off at the exit of their choice.

    It’s fab!

  17. Funny that. When I suggested to Transport Scotland that they should put a cycle bridge over the M74 at the Raith Interchange (Bothwell/Strathclyde Country Park junction) they said it would be unsightly. Instead they are proposing a mix of toucan crossings, footbridges over the roundabout, several spiral and zigzag ramps, and passing under the motorway at ground level. So the distance through the junction for cyclists and pedestrians will be about double the distance as the crow flies.

    1. I absolutely loath footbridges “and underpasses” as a means of crossing large roads. Pushing my trike up the slopes is hard and uncomfortable with my arthritis in my hips. Because lets face it, in the UK we always have to dismount. I should imagine it’s a pain also if pulling a child carrier behind a bike as well. I don’t mind so much the toucan crossing. At least that is safe even if we do always have to ask permission to cross.

      I personally would be more than happy to just have the ordinary Dutch way of cycling around the outside of a roundabout on a decent cycle path.

      If here in the UK they eventually want a high percent of people of all ages cycling they really are going to have to start taking into consideration the larger, trikes, cargo bikes and pull along carriers. For those, there are so many barriers to getting places easily on the ridiculous few cycling facilities we already have.

  18. Wow this is fantastic! To see this roundabout with the floating bicycle roundabout above it is just pure genius. I used to drive the A2 and have been through this roundabout plenty of times.

    I am that Dutch friend that Luv 2 Cycle mentions in her post 🙂 There is just no better cycling infrastructure then in The Netherlands.

    I thoroughly enjoyed watching the video’s and reading this post 🙂

  19. As a UK price reference, Exhibition Rd ‘shared space’ cost £32million. And for that we got some nice paving, but no real added safety. Yet again the NL are showing the whole world the way forward. Does the roundabout below now move at greater speed?

    Bravo NL

  20. Eindhoven is renowned as the “Silicon Valley” of Holland. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eindhoven#Economy Most famous as HQ and R&D of Philips, the city is a hotbed for many technology companies and research projects.

    So you might call this marvellous piece of innovation the “Silicon Roundabout”.

    Hmm, where have we heard “Silicon Roundabout” before…. yes, Old Street Roundabout, hotbed of UK media web innovative action. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Street_Roundabout#Silicon_Roundabout

    One thing the technologists of both location have in common is the favourite mode of transport. Bicycles. London’s young entrepreneurs favour the fixie or, if the mood suits, a skateboard.

    But even before the Dutch invested in this superb cycle infrastructure, the Dutch Silicon Roundabout was infinitely superior for its high-tech users. The UK Silicon Roundabout, on the other hand is notoriously dangerous. having the dubious honour of being one of the three most dangerous for London cyclists. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Street_Roundabout#Cycling_accidents

    Want to invest in high tech hot spots Mr Cameron? The Dutch show how it should be done.

    PS would love if a blogger could research this comment and develop it. Whenever politicians mention “Silicon Roundabout” from now on, take the opportunity to expose the sheer contrast between Old Street roundabout and Hovenring. Where would a young innovator prefer to be?

    1. Thanks, that is in line with what I found this morning: in 2008 it was 17 million but I expected it to be more. Apparently it became 22m after that and then again 3m less in 2011 to 19m. But then we got the trembling problems so all in all it could be pushing 20 million euros. Although… it doesn’t really say if this includes the re-building of the junction for motorized traffic under the roundabout. What ever it is: this stuff doesn’t come cheap, but it will save lives, so what is the cost of that?

      1. Oops, I hit ‘enter’ too soon. And according to the news report, “Because of the heavy industrial uses surrounding the Del Amo extension, pedestrians and bicyclists are not permitted to use the road.” Sheesh!

  21. This is fantastic. I can’t quite imagine anything like it being built here in Britain. It’s almost like the Dutch give enough of a stuff about people to make them safer, or some mad idea like that.

  22. Doesn’t look like there are any facilities for pedestrians – or would pedestrians be expected to walk along the bike path?

    Looks amazing by the way!

    1. There are none, but I estimate the path on the ring to be 5 meters (16Ft) wide so there is no problem to “share the road” here. On top of that, the nearest pedestrian destination is at least 800 meters away in each direction. That would mean a walking trip of at least 1.6 km or 1 mile: the Dutch don’t walk that far. For trips of that length they take the bicycle!

    2. In Eindhoven your a weirdo if you don’t ride a bike. Why walk? Unless its from the bike rack. That being said theres nothing wrong with walkers and riders sharing the same space.

  23. More bikes than cars at the “main entrance” to the city!
    Why can’t we have this in Australia?
    Oh, that’s right, I was forgetting the h…

  24. What about priority? Do cyclists coming on the the roundabout go first? I suppose so, because they are coming from the right.

    Can you cycle the other way around? If so, you get priority, correct?

    I noticed there are no signs that say where the exits go (which direction). Are they still coming and haven’t been installed yet?

    1. Good questions. I don’t know any of the answers. People did cycle both directions. It doesn’t say you can’t nor that you can. It doesn’t have signs saying this is a roundabout, it also does not have shark teeth or yield signs. People gave cyclists coming from the right the right of way and it is all so wide that you can just cycle around each other. Typical for the South of the Netherlands: not so obsessed with rules and regulations, it all flows naturally anyway. There are directional signs, they appear in the film too (in close up), but they are placed at the outside of the exits.

      1. Sometimes it’s best NOT to arrange some kind of priority. Everything will work itself out because you have to pay attention instead of assuming you have the right of way and just keep going.

        PS. I forgot to mention it in my previous comment. This bridge is an absolute beauty… I’m actually a bit jealous we don’t have that in Groningen.

      2. This is in fact a bidirectional cyclepath without a central dividing line – much like rural roads. So if you enter on one leg (why don’t we have a word like the German “Zubringer”?) and need to leave on the leg on your left, it would be foolish to go round the entire structure; you just take the shorter route and turn left. The same principle is visible in several of your Utrecht videos. It occurs to me that people still tend to look at this kind of structure through drivers’ eyes – only one way round – and your video shows that many cyclists also do, riding counter-clockwise.

    1. I didn’t include that information because I couldn’t find it. The information brochure doesn’t mention it. Nor does the city of Eindhoven’s website. Several millions of euros that’s for sure, but part of the larger project of the re-design of the junction. So probably not clear how much money went to which part of the project.

      1. It just amazed me that so much could be spent on one roundabout – Don’t get me wrong, I think it wonderful that a country cares so much about the health and safety of all when ours cares so little. When I see infrastructure like that I just want to cry at the lack of what we have.

        Today I cycles 5.5 miles to go to our nearest retail park. I was less than half mile away when I had to turn around and go home again simply because at that time in the morning there was no way to cross a massive roundabout we have here. There is no pedestrian/cycle crossing even though the shared cycle path runs along side one side of the roundabout and there is an island in the middle of the road. It’s a case of dodging the traffic across four lanes. I managed to get across two lanes but just couldn’t cross the side where traffic was spilling in at 60mph from off the roundabout itself.

        I came straight home and emailed our highways department. Then later this afternoon my Nephew came and picked me up in his car and drove me to the retail park.

        Experiencing that today, and then this evening seeing these videos of yours is just so emotional for me.

    2. I now found some indication of the cost. In the local newspaper “Eindhovens Dagblad”, in an article of 7 March 2008, it was reported the bridge would cost 17 million euros (21.3 million US$). But this was 4 years ago, before the actual building began. I think it is safe to say the actual building cost will be more than that rather than less, as is usual in such large building projects.

      1. Thanks so much for seeking out that info. It’s an amazing piece of work. Normally I hate to see the sky line spoiled by raised structures, such as that eye sore of a London Eye we have here. But that roundabout is truly a work of art as well as being functional.

        I have a Dutch friend who has been living in Australia for the last 25 years and misses cycling so much. She will be amazed when I show her this.

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