All about cycling in the Netherlands
The first official fast cycle route in the southern province of Limburg was opened last June when several officials from the province and the two municipalities that the route runs through cycled the entire length of the route with dozens of schoolchildren.
The route was named “Greenport Bikeway” and runs from the railway station of Venlo to that of Horst-Sevenum, through an area with a lot of logistics companies and a horticulture industry for fresh produce and also dairy products and flowers. The Dutch national government designated the area a “Greenport”. There are actually two routes, I focus on the south part that runs parallel to the railway line from Eindhoven to Venlo and further to Germany.
The route runs partly on existing (upgraded) cycle infrastructure and partly on completely new infrastructure that was constructed on land that was acquired for the sole purpose to build this route. The new route makes it possible to cycle through the area without delays from other traffic or detours. The route has priority as much as possible and as few obstacles as possible. It consists of a wide path with a surface of smooth red asphalt. The name “Greenport Bikeway” is stencilled on the surface where you need to know which turns to take to follow the route. It would be nice if these stencilled names would be replaced by real signs in future.
At both beginning and end and here at the halfway point there are some signs telling you how far it is to the end destination in both distance and time. At some other locations where the route takes some turns more signs would be helpful. (Video showing background information about the route).
The main purpose of this bikeway is to get a high number of the 15,000 people who will soon be employed in this area to cycle to their work. This is not only good for their personal health, (for which reason the route is also referred to as “Healthy Highway”) it will also decrease congestion on the road network and that in turn is better for the environment. Other groups that can and will use the route are schoolchildren cycling from and to school and people who like to cycle for recreation. The route is financed by the national government, the municipalities Venlo and Horst aan de Maas and the Development Company Greenport Venlo.
Building started festively on 13 March 2014. It took only 15 months to build the entire cycle route. The opening took place on 4 June 2015. Building this route also meant that 500 new trees were planted. These trees are especially good for a certain type of wildlife: they help bats to navigate. To disturb the bats as little as possible the street lights have been constructed “bat friendly”. Unfortunately no information was offered as to what that means exactly, only that the lights are placed on masts made of sustainable wood.
There was more sustainable development connected to the new cycle route. On two locations so-called “Plukbossen” (Fruit picking woods) were planted. These woods offer free fruit to passers-by who are allowed to pick as much fruit as they like. Fruit that falls off the trees also serves as food for the wildlife in the area, the badger and small mammals living here.
Near the station of Horst-Sevenum at Grubbenvorsterweg there is a short detour of 300 metres. This has to do with the fact that the land directly next to the railway line could not yet be acquired. This temporary detour is a bit narrower and has black asphalt to clearly indicate that this is a temporary solution. It is not known how long this detour will have to exist.
Video in very high-speed (10 times normal speed) showing the entire length of the route from Horst-Sevenum to Venlo. (If you prefer the real-time version it is a bit further down.)
The so-called Greenport Venlo is one of six “Greenports” in the Netherlands. It is the second largest horticulture area of the country. Its location (so close to the German border where a lot of the products go) makes it a logistics hotspot. Horticulture in The Netherlands is regulated. The national government designated specific areas for it where improvements and development are stimulated. In the Greenport Venlo a number of public and private partners cooperate: local governments, researchers, educational institutions and entrepreneurs. Together they try to improve the horticulture with innovations and smart logistics. Goal is to double the economic value of the region from 1 billion to 2 billion Euro. For its 15,000 highly educated workers the Greenport Bikeway can be the route from their homes to their workplace.
The real-time version of the entire ride. A 38 minute video!
More information on the website of the Greenport Bikeway (in Dutch only).