Last Sunday was a beautiful sunny Autumn day in the Netherlands. A perfect day for a leisurely ride. I rode out without any plans, simply enjoying the weather, when I reached something I hadn’t seen before: a beautiful new wooden bicycle drawbridge.
On seeing that brand new bridge, I realised I had read about it, but I hadn’t yet visited it. I didn’t have my camera with me, but the perfect weather and the colours because of it, simply demanded that it had to be captured that very moment. That’s where my iPhone came to the rescue.
Back home I quickly found out more about the bridge. It was officially opened on June 2nd, 2012. The new bridge, and the cycle paths that connect it to the existing cycling infrastructure, were built as part of the historic ‘fortification cycling route’. A cycling route along the (remains of) ramparts, bastions and other parts of the defensive works of ’s-Hertogenbosch. A city that had always relied on inundating the entire surroundings to keep an enemy out.
’s-Hertogenbosch had never been conquered until 1629 when Frederick Henry of Orange did succeed in doing that in a typically Dutch way: he diverted the rivers Dommel and Aa, and created a polder by constructing lines of “circumvallation”: a forty-kilometre fortified dyke system. After which the water was pumped out with mills. The siege lasted almost 5 months and then the city had to surrender. The Dutch treated this part of Brabant, cut off from the rest of the Duchy of Brabant (that is now in Belgium), as an occupied zone until 1795. The ‘fortification cycling route’ lets you cycle along the remains of the full 40 kilometre route of the Dutch dykes. The bicycle bridge was needed to get to the other side of the Dieze, a small river that cuts through the route of the old dykes.
It is a purely recreational bicycle route and that is obvious from the bridge. For a normal route it would be too narrow and steep. The connecting cycle paths are gravel paths, a further indication that this is not a normal cycle route.
The bridge is named after a small castle right next to it “Meerwijkse brug” and there is also a military area quite near. Only military vessels may pass here so the bridge doesn’t have to open very often. When it has to be opened that can only be done manually. A little information plate on the bridge itself reveals some of the stats.
Below my first video filmed entirely with my iPhone.
Wooden Bicycle Drawbridge in ‘s-Hertogenbosch.