Cycling must be convenient and fast to be a viable alternative to the car. The Dutch achieve a very high average speed for cycling because you can cycle almost non-stop on many routes. Routes improve constantly. Traditional junctions have been replaced by roundabouts with priority for cyclists in recent years. This reduces the number of stops in the cities and that makes non-stop cycling possible. The main North-South cycle route in ’s-Hertogenbosch is one such route where junctions were replaced by roundabouts. That led to a cycle route where you have priority on every drive way, side street and junction for five kilometres until you reach the city centre 30km/h (19mph) zone.
Pictures on the site of the city archive show that the route was not always like that. The streets were all built with cycling infrastructure designed in from the start. Even the street that was built in the 1930s had a separate cycle path/service street right away. Pictures from the 1930s show cycle paths/service streets next to a central carriageway. However, when you look at pictures from the early 1980s we see they have disappeared and there are parked cars where they were. In a complete reconstruction in 1985 the cycle paths returned to their old locations. Not at the expense of parking; the carriage way was narrowed so there was still room for parked cars.
In the area of the city that was constructed in the 1970s, the cycle paths were also designed in right from the first time the streets were constructed. Originally the cycle paths were surfaced with concrete tiles, but these tiles have been replaced by red asphalt in the 1990s. The junctions used to be traditional four arm cross roads with traffic lights, and they were replaced by roundabouts in the late 1990s, early 21st century. It was only then that non-stop cycling became possible. Because this was a gradual change, nobody seems to have noticed. Nobody calls this a “cycling super highway” or anything like it. It’s just another cycle route. There was no fanfare, no bragging and nobody used this for political gain. The Dutch don’t really think twice about their bicycle infrastructure, they just use it in high numbers. But they forget they can and want to do that because their infrastructure is so well-designed.
The first video is the full 5 kilometre route in very high-speed. The second video is the full route in normal speed.
Full 5 kilometre route in under four minutes.
Full 5 kilometre route in almost 16 minutes (real-time).