All about cycling in the Netherlands
“It should be called ‘The little green one’, because it’s green and because that’s what you say about a novice or something new as well. And this was the area where the green vegetables for the city of Nijmegen were grown!” The 13-year-old students of the Citadel College in Lent (Nijmegen) were very clear when representatives of the Nijmegen “Working group for street name giving” asked the class if they had any ideas for the name of a new – green as grass – cycle bridge directly next to their school. The school children’s motivation is mentioned in the city council’s decision on the official name of the cycle bridge. And that name was really decided to be “Het Groentje” (The little green one*).
The bridge is a vital part of the circa 16 kilometres (10 miles) long high-speed cycle route from Nijmegen to Arnhem called RijnWaalPad that is nearing completion. It is expected to be finished late 2014.
The Little Green One is well over 120 metres (about 400Ft) long and takes an expected daily number of about 2,000 to 4,000 people cycling over a brand new ring road (Graaf Alardsingel) north of Nijmegen with an expected number of around 50,000 to 60,000 motor vehicles per day.
In the original plans of the development of the area north of the river Waal and Nijmegen, with – at the time – plans for 2,500 houses, there was no room for a cycle bridge. The crossing of the new road to the new bridge over the river Waal (which I showed you earlier) was planned to be a level crossing. So how did a level crossing become a cycle bridge?
By chance I met Sjors van Duren, mobility advisor of the regional body Stadsregio Arnhem Nijmegen recently and when I asked him he explained: “The city of Nijmegen is the project’s promoter for both the new bridge over the river Waal and the connecting roads. In the scoping phase the plans involved a level-crossing with the – at the time – ordinary cycle route to the town of Oosterhout. During the development of the new Waal bridge the project “RijnWaalPad”, which is the high-speed cycle route from Nijmegen to Arnhem, was started. [Which incorporated the cycle route to Oosterhout.] Although at first it did not seem possible to change the plans for this crossing, there was a window of opportunity in 2011 when it was clear there was room for a cycle bridge after all. It could cross over the new road and would connect to the area around the Lent railway station. Because the high-speed cycle route is high priority, the council of Nijmegen, the province of Gelderland and the regional body ‘Stadsregio Arnhem – Nijmegen’ were able to allocate funds, 4.8 million Euro, in a time span of only two months.”
The Belgian company that designed the bridge has a website in English and there we find: “The main steel span over the Graaf Alardsingel has a slim, elegant design which contrasts with the massive concrete section of the rail embankment. The steel structure is an integral box girder bridge with spans of 30m, 60m, 30m and two intermediate supports, positioned eccentrically in relation to the bridge deck above. There are no supports on the Graaf Alardsingel as a result of which the road has great flexibility and future adaptability. The detailing and aesthetics of the components, such as the parapet, the connection and integration of the LED lighting, the separation of the various user zones on the deck and the embankments, the water management on the bridge and the stairs, are all incorporated in the visual quality of the bridge. A sense of unity is created through the selection of only one material, namely stainless steel, for all of these components.
The main span will, despite the hard materials, appear as natural as possible. All of the lines are smooth and organic. The colour of the main span is ‘spring green’. The posts of the handrail of both the main span and the stairs next to the access points refer to blades of grass and have the same spring colour.”
The bridge parts were built in Belgium and transported to Nijmegen by ship. The three pieces of 40 metres long, each weighing 110 metric tons, were placed on the prepared foundations in one weekend in May 2013. Someone filmed the arrival and placement of the bridge parts. The bridge was festively opened in July 2013, although it seemed there still were some little details at either end of the bridge that had to be finished, when I filmed it last November. But this beautiful piece of infrastructure already helps people cycling to safely cross a very busy road. A great step in the completion of the long distance cycle route from Nijmegen to Arnhem. Again one less barrier for cycling!
A video showing ‘The Little Green One” cycle bridge in Lent (Nijmegen).