All about cycling in the Netherlands
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 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.
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.
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.
Short video of a ride on this bridge.
A 360 degree view of the bridge.