Simon Stevinweg, ʼs-Hertogenbosch

Simon Stevinweg is a major east-west route in the city of ʼs-Hertogenbosch. It is a typical through route for the Netherlands. Two lanes for motor traffic and two separated one-way cycle tracks alongside of it.

It was built as an arterial route and it was opened in January 1976 by an alderman of the city. The design of the street itself has not changed since the street was first constructed. The only thing that changed was the surface of the cycle tracks. Originally concrete tiles, but since the 1990s smooth asphalt. Ordinary black asphalt but with a red coating on top of it. That red top layer has almost worn off now. But it is still a smooth surface.

The festive opening of Simon Stevinweg in January 1976 was marked by the installation of the final tiles in the cycle path by alderman Wagemakers. (Picture ʼs-Hertogenbosch city archive)
The final tiles in the cycle path read:
“Last tiles installed by alderman WAGEMAKERS
others by paviours”. This is a play on the alderman’s name., which means carriage (or car) makers so only a few tiles placed by a car maker, the rest by genuine street makers. (picture ʼs-Hertogenbosch city archive)

The first part of the street was originally built in the early 1950s. But by the 1970s it didn’t connect well with a new area of the city to the west that was constructed from the 1960s on. So the city decided to connect two arterial roads by widening the original street and by extending it with a new part through an area with some sports grounds. To connect the two arterials the new street had to make a rather sharp curve for an arterial street. This curve is still very well visible in the street.

This 1974 map shows that the projected Simon Stevinweg would connect a new area of the city in the west to the old city in the east. The main street was projected through an area with sporting grounds.
In 2013 Simon Stevinweg has become a real city street; all the former sports grounds are gone and have been built on.

The former sports grounds have all gone. The city used the land to build new homes, some schools and a city park. So even with all the buildings the route is still very green and it doesn’t have an inner-city feel, even though it really is in the middle of the city.

What is also very usual for a Dutch arterial street is that the number of side streets is very limited. With a reduced number of junctions traffic safety is increased. The main junctions at the beginning and end of the street have changed. Originally they were traffic light controlled conventional four arm cross roads. These junctions were a perfect example of the typical Dutch junction with separated cycle paths. But both junctions were replaced by roundabouts. I have shown you one of these roundabouts in an earlier post. With the roundabouts the traffic lights were no longer necessary and that makes that you can now cycle non-stop from the central railway station all the way to the end of this route. Non-stop, because when you cycle you have priority over motor traffic at the roundabouts.

The first part of Simon Stevinweg around 1974 when it was still just a small residential street.
The same location today shows the main route with separate one way cycle tracks along each side of the street.

The video shows how relaxed everybody cycles here. When you can cycle non-stop you can do it leisurely and still have a very good average speed. The video ends with a view from a car, so you can see that the separated cycle tracks are really making driving for motor traffic more convenient too. This street still is a major route for motor traffic and some bus lines but at the same time it is a main cycle route as well. This is 1970s design with a modern update (the junctions that became roundabouts and the surface). And with that update it is perfect and complies with all the current Dutch road design standards and Sustainable Safety regulations. A very ordinary Dutch street, nothing special in the Netherlands: Simon Stevinweg in ʼs-Hertogenbosch.

A video portrait of Simon Stevinweg in ʼs-Hertogenbosch, a typical arterial road in the Netherlands.

The street was named after Simon Stevin a mathematician and military engineer born in the Southern-Netherlands. The street connects to Christian Huygensweg another famous Dutch scientist. Other street names in the area are Newtonlaan, Samuel Morsestraat, Kelvinstraat, Marconistraat and Edisonstraat. The theme is clear.

Update 27 september 2013

One of my readers sent me before and after pictures of the junction at the west end of the street. The before picture shows the junction in 1994 and the after picture shows that it had become a roundabout in 2000.

The junction at the west end of the steet in 1994, before it was turned into a roundabout. As I wrote in the post, a textbook example of the Dutch junction with separate cycle tracks.
This picture shows that same location as a roundabout in 2000. So that was built between 1994 and 2000. The building at the bottom left hand side of the junction was removed. I am not sure whether that was for the roundabout but it seems like the space was needed for the roundabout.

7 thoughts on “Simon Stevinweg, ʼs-Hertogenbosch

  1. The video was very relaxing, I loved the simplicity! No explanations or text, just some happy, everyday bicycling with nice music; this kind of stuff is really important, we shouldn’t always dwell on technicalities and historical facts. (not to say I don’t love that stuff, I do!)

    I also liked the motorist’s perspective, that was a nice touch and shows how everyone benefits and is calmed when bikes and cars are physically separated.

  2. “The same location today shows the main route with separate one way cycle tracks along each side of the street.”

    But how narrow the sidewalk is. Two pedestrians cannot pass each other, they will get on the cycle track . . .

    1. Whatever gave you the idea the sidewalk is narrow? In the video you can see that it has a width of 5 tiles. Those tiles are 30cms square, so that means the sidewalk is 1.5 meters wide. That is more than enough for two people walking side by side who can still be passed by another pedestrian.

      1. Sorry, I did not watch the video, but only the picture. And the picture made me think the sidewalk is too narrow. Nevertheless, in Dutch cities there will be less pedestrians and more cyclists on streets than in German cities, as I believe.

  3. Great post, great video. The view from inside the car in the last minute is a good touch as it shows that being pro-cycling isn’t about being anti-driving.

    The before-after photographs are good because it shows what can be done to civilise existing roads *anywhere* in the world. They also helped the penny drop with me as to why there are so many service covers (previously called “manholes”) in the cycle paths in the Netherlands. D’oh! Because they used to be in the road!

    I’m taking a university urban planning course at the moment and trying to be objective and avoid any confirmation bias about how necessary NL-standard provision for cycling is to good urban development, but blogs like yours are making that an almost impossible task.

    Keep up the great work and I hope you enjoy your upcoming trip to Sydney.


      1. Hi Mark,

        Great to hear you’re enjoying Sydney, Australia’s pseudo-capital (despite what many Melbournians may opine).

        I’m intrigued by the worn-out surface sections of the cycle path in the video, where the remaining red surface on the RHS is about 300mm wide and about 500mm on the LHS. In your opinion is this because the worn-out surface in between was created by (a) the wheel-paths of millions of cyclists, (b) the vehicles that grit/sweep the cycle path or (c) a combination of (a) and (b).

        If the answer is (a) then the video shows the “shy” distance that cyclists give to the kerb between the cycle path and the footpath, and thus help explain/support the Dutch required widths for cycle paths. This is an important detail as you’ve probably experienced when riding two abreast on Sydney’s cycle paths.

        I’ve assumed that the 500mm of surface on the LHS is the less-used but just as important width that is required to allow other cyclists to overtake two cyclists riding abreast.

        I’m happy to be corrected on any of the above!


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