Wooden cycle bridge in Harderwijk

An exceptional new wooden cycle bridge can be found in the town of Harderwijk on the former Zuiderzee (now IJsselmeer). It was opened on 11 December 2014 by several aldermen of the town and it is part of a cycle route to re-connect the new development “Drielanden” with the best cycle route to the town’s centre. That cycle route is part of the Zuiderzee Cycle Route, a route all along IJsselmeer and could previously not be reached so easily from “Drielanden” because the A28 motorway was in the way.

The cycle overpass at Harderwijk seen from the south.

The Harderwijk council wanted the overpass to be an eye-catcher and the council had specifically asked the architects to refer to the maritime past of the former fishing town in the design of this new bridge. And so Zwarts & Jansma Architects designed a wooden cable stayed bridge of which the pylons resemble the mast of a ‘Zuiderzee botter’, the traditional fishing ships, that can still be seen in the old port of Harderwijk, even now.

Traditional Zuiderzee botters in the port of Durgerdam.

The bridge is 77 metres long. It consists of 11 pre-fabricated sections of 7 metres. The main span is 50 metres. This makes it one of the longest wooden cable stayed bridges in Europe.

The cycle overpass as seen from the motorway A28.

The Wijma Group supplied the timber. The two wooden pylons, each 22 metres tall, are made of FSC Azobe wood. The two straight trees were especially selected in one of the company’s own sustainable production sites in Cameroon in West-Africa. The trees were shipped to Kampen to get the special shape of a ‘botter’ ship’s mast. Square shaped at the bottom and round and tapered to the top. The pylons support the bridge deck which is also made of Azobe wood.

A Zuiderzee botter.

It took five nights to place the pre-fabricated bridge parts over the motorway. The steel bridge railings have integrated led-lights. The bridge and the cycle route are well-lit at night.

Cable stayed bridge Harderwijk, the Netherlands
Contracting authority: Harderwijk council
Contractor: Heijmans Civiel B.V.
Architect: Zwarts en Jansma Architects
Timber supplier: Wijma Group 
Type of wood: FSC certified Azobe
Costs: 2.9 million euro
Measurements: length: 77 metres, span 50 metres. width 4.5 metres.

The connection consists of three bridges. One large bridge over the motorway (1). A smaller one in the ramp (2) and a replacement of an existing bridge (3).
The local and regional cycle routes in the municipality of Harderwijk. The arrow points to the green point representing the location of the new cycle bridge.
The local and regional cycle routes in the municipality of Harderwijk. The arrow points to the green dot representing the location of the new cycle bridge. The bridge is obviously part of a very extensive cycle grid. The Dutch don’t build these exceptional pieces of cycling infrastructure as stand-alone objects, but really to bridge gaps in the grid.

In January of 2015 the bridge won the Dutch FSC chain award 2014 in a popular vote. The director of the Dutch Forrest Stewardship Council praised the bridge which was voted best project. ‘ We congratulate this team, This result is achieved through team effort. This new cycling-bridge is an icon for both the city and the way wood can be used in a sustainable manner.’

My video about the new cycle bridge in Harderwijk

My second video shows a ride on the bridge

Earlier, I have shown you one other wooden cycle bridge, but that is much smaller.

11 thoughts on “Wooden cycle bridge in Harderwijk

    1. I don’t know for sure, but I would guess that it fits better with the symbolism of basing the design on a ship, which would have been made of wood as well.

  1. Is this similar to Drielanden near Groningen? Same energy efficiency, etc.?

    From looking at it on Google maps it seems somewhat like Kloosterveen. At least the retail portion. I found Kloosterveste (the retail center) to be somewhat sterile and uninviting feeling. Almost like a fortress that people aren’t necessarily welcomed in. Especially compared to most retail centers around The Netherlands.

  2. It makes me wonder why the bridge has any inclines at all. The underneath of the bridge seems almost twice as high as the trucks passing under it.

  3. (I can’t look at the video content at work, so apologies if this is obvious In the video).

    Is the deck untreated timber? We have a number of timber-decked bridges and causeways in Brisbane, and they get quite slipper in wet weather, unless the decks are painted with an anti-slip compound.

    Thanks, Tony

  4. So why is it made of wood, rather than metal? Did the council want people to smell natural smelling wood (literally, not cannabis the Netherlands is known for), or was there a cost element?

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