A cycle bridge in Zoetermeer

It is 10 years old, the bright white viaduct over the A12 motorway and the parallel railway from The Hague to Utrecht. The bridge is for people walking, cycling and… riding a horse! After the large infrastructural objects in my recent posts it is time to show you a relatively ‘normal’ bridge again. This is a bridge not only to connect two residential areas at either side of the motorway and the railway, but it also opened up the region for recreational cycling.  With the more recent new bridge in Zoetermeer a lot of people can now cycle further with fewer barriers. At the time this bridge was also meant to be a new landmark for Zoetermeer for people driving on the motorway.

The bridge in Zoetermeer as seen from the A12 motorway (picture Google Streetview).

The Zoetermeer municipality and ProRail ordered an architect of Holland Railconsult to design this bridge. The project started in January 2004. The almost 138 meters long steel bridge was manufactured near its final location. The 825 metric ton bridge was then placed in one night, the night of the 21st to the 22nd of May 2005. This was done so the motorway only had to be closed for one night.

Balijbrug as seen from the approachramp for people cycling.

Newspapers reported there were over 1,000 people to watch the event that night. On YouTube you can find a time lapse of the placing of the bridge. Finishing the bridge took until December of 2005 and it could be used from then on. The bridge is lit at night from lighting that is integrated in the handrails.

In the International Database for Civil and Structural Engineering the bridge is described as follows:

Structural Type: Suspension bridge with cable-stays
total length 137.60 m
span lengths 51.70 m – 85.90 m

Over a year after the bridge was put in its place, the court in The Hague ruled that the bridge design was not pirated. A bureau of architects, Zwarts & Jansma, accused Holland Railconsult and the Zoetermeer municipality of plagiarism. The firm had entered a design competition for a bridge over the A12 motorway in the year 2000. Holland Railconsult was in the team to judge the designs. But this particular design was rejected. However, the bridge that was placed in 2005 and that was designed by Holland Railconsult, looked an awful lot like their bridge Zwarts & Jansma claimed. But the judge ruled against them. Even though the bridges do look similar, the structural design was so different that it could not be called plagiarism.

The designers of this bridge claimed the new bridge was based on this design. But the judge ruled otherwise even though the court did acknowledge there are similarities.

To a Dutch eye this bridge is not so special. Cycle bridges like these can be found all over the Netherlands. The entrance ramps are very long so the incline is not so steep and all the curves can be taken at a good speed. So it is all well-designed. This type of cycling infrastructure is there to reduce the number of barriers that could put people off cycling. This viaduct offers a shorter and more direct route between two populous neighbourhoods of Zoetermeer than there was before it was built and it is therefore a valuable addition to the Zoetermeer cycling network.

The bridge marked on the map of the cycle routeplanner of the Cyclists’ Union. There are not many places where you can cross the A12 motorway. The marked bridge top left is the one I showed you earlier.

Short video of a ride on this bridge.


A 360 degree view of the bridge.

Newspaper clippings




8 thoughts on “A cycle bridge in Zoetermeer

  1. When you traveled on the American interstates last year did you happen to take a look at what the typical pedestrian bridge looks like? They weren’t “designed” but seemingly created by “minimum standards” on what it takes to cross something else. You basically need a long beam with walls to prevent people from falling off.

    Extremely common bridge:
    Pedestrian Bridge over Interstate 43
    I-94 Pedestrian Bridge at Sunset

    Less common design, and these would probably be considered “fancy”:
    Rider Way, Des Moines, Iowa
    Interstate 80 and the Berkeley Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge

    1. Another element worth noting with most American pedestrian/cyclist bridge designs (this includes sidewalks alongside automotive-oriented bridges) is the very tall fences, that even extend up above pedestrian heads, which your images depict. This is because the powers that be don’t trust pedestrians to not drop objects onto passing cars as an act of vandalism. Seriously, that’s a thing here. (Not a particularly common thing, but a thing nonetheless.)

      1. Yes, we do have that too! If you look at the Rotterdam example you will see you won’t be able to throw anything down from there. So we design that feature in. We have had some nasty incidents in this country like that too. People lost their lives to idiots like that.

      2. In the small city where I live (in the U.S.), teens have thrown rocks at cars at least twice on the same bridge. Luckily, the people in the cars didn’t die, but the rocks still damaged their windshields.

        I believe that most of the bridges here aren’t designed with covering at all; city officials haven’t bothered to change them.

        I’m sure that newer bridges are covered, not only to prevent youth from throwing rocks at cars, but to prevent people from commiting suicide on them.

    2. I’ll take the fancy ones any day! 🙂 Yes I did see the ordinary ones, but there are large differences between the states when it comes to the quality of infrastructure I think. Some have really nice stuff like Arizona and some… not so much.

      1. I wouldn’t mind at all. I’d rather have 2 common ones than a single fancy one. As long as they are usable.

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