Another before and after in ʼs-Hertogenbosch (5)

The cycleway surface on a busy main road in ʼs-Hertogenbosch was recently upgraded. The original concrete slabs were replaced by smooth asphalt. Not a major change you might think, but cycling has really improved because of it.

Cycling on the brand new surface past a large intersection.

The road was constructed as a main east-west road in a city development project that ran from about 1970 to 1977. The project involved connecting several new residential expansions and an industrial area. The rail road line from ʼs-Hertogenbosch east to Nijmegen was raised in the same project and this road runs parallel to that now elevated rail road for a large part of the route. This was the time many new 4-lane roads were built in The Netherlands. Which was done to accommodate the growing number of private cars that many people could from that time on afford. This new arterial road was also built with 2 lanes in each direction. The route required a large bridge as well. That bridge was built from 1970 on and it was called Trierbrug (Trier bridge) after the city of Trier in Germany, with which ʼs-Hertogenbosch was twinned at the time. Because of this twinning the oberbürgermeister (mayor) of Trier opened the bridge in September 1973.

The mayors of 's-Hertogenbosch and Trier opened the "Trier brigde" in September 1973. (Picture Stadsarchief 's-Hertogenbosch)
The mayors of ʼs-Hertogenbosch and Trier opened the “Trier bridge” in September 1973. (Picture Stadsarchief ʼs-Hertogenbosch)

Interesting enough this major road did not get separated cycling infrastructure at that time. There was only a painted on-street cycle lane. The city archive of ʼs-Hertogenbosch has a picture from the Trier bridge in 1990 and the caption reads: “A dangerous situation for cycling”. I couldn’t agree more. An on-street cycle lane is completely inadequate as cycling infrastructure on such a big 4 lane road. Apparently the authorities agreed that the situation had to be changed and that must have been done somewhere between 1990 and 2013. That year I took a picture at the same location and the road layout had obviously been changed. The road did have separate cycle tracks (one-way on either side) at that time. Unfortunately they were created at the expense of the foot way, because that had been sacrificed for that protected cycleway. Not a real problem, however, because the road is very far away from end-destinations and very few people walk here.

Cycling on the Trier Bridge in September 1990. There is no cycling infrastructure only a painted line. The caption reads: “A dangerous situation for cycling.” (Picture: Stadsarchief ʼs-Hertogenbosch)
By 2013 the cycle route had become separated and protected from the main roadway. This made it much safer to cycle on.
In 2015 the surface of the cycleway was replaced. Instead of uneven concrete slabs it now has a very smooth asphalt surface. The surface of the road way was also replaced. This surface replacement was part of a ‘major maintenance’ project.

The road is still a major arterial road today and that is why it stayed a 4-lane road. I showed you another example earlier of a similar 4 lane arterial road, also with on-street cycle lanes, that has now been given a road diet. Because that street was downgraded to a collector road, it went back to 2 lanes (one for each direction), but it also got separated cycle tracks.

This road is a major east west connector in the city of ʼs-Hertogenbosch.
This road is a major east west connector in the city of ʼs-Hertogenbosch. (OpenStreetMaps)

The pictures below show that the foot way was removed on the entire length of the road now, not only at the bridge as was the case before. These side walks were obviously underused, otherwise they would not have been so overgrown with grass and weeds as the picture shows. That the foot ways were removed does not mean that pedestrians cannot use this road; they can, but they are supposed to walk in the cycleway. The width of the cycleway does allow for people walking in it as well.

Grass on the footway in the before situation reveals that that sidewalk was hardly used. It was completely removed in the new situation.
Grass on the foot way in the before situation reveals that that side-walk was hardly used. It was completely removed in the new situation.

The cycle route alongside of this road is not a main cycle route according to the current (but ending) cycling policy of ʼs-Hertogenbosch. It is a secondary route. Had it been a main cycle route, the cycleway and the roadway might have been separated completely, to run on a different location altogether. A policy that the Dutch call unravelling or unbundling of routes. You will see in the videos that there are almost no end-destinations on this road and only very few intersections. Where there are businesses a service street was built. That is because this really is a through road. Its only purpose is to get traffic from one point to the other, fast. End destinations and parking (movements) would come in the way of that purpose. This is perfectly in line with the Dutch sustainable safety policies. The speed limit on this road is 50km/h (31mph), but because it has no distractions that is also almost the average speed.

Under the 6 year cycle plan of ʼs-Hertogenbosch that ends this year, this is one of the last routes to be updated. Later this year I plan to show you exactly what has and what has not been executed of that 2009 cycle plan, that I then wrote about as well. (Hint: a lot has!)

The cycle routes alongside of the main road. The red and the green line represent the routes shown in the videos.
The cycle routes alongside of the main road. The red line (West to East) and the green line (East to West) represent the routes shown in the videos. (OpenStreetMaps cycle map)

This relatively minor update, a surface change from concrete slabs to smooth asphalt, can be seen as icing on the cake of a well-executed and award-winning cycle plan to update the previously outdated cycling infrastructure of ʼs-Hertogenbosch. Riding the paths is now much more convenient and that is what it is all about: cycling has to be so convenient that many people will leave their car at home and use the bicycle instead.

There were also some other changes. This side street (Zandzuigerkade) was completely closed. It previously gave access to a business but that disappeared and the whole street had become obsolete because of that.
This service street is one of the few parts where red asphalt was chosen. The city of ‘s-Hertogenbosch only chooses red asphalt where there is a potential conflict or where it would otherwise not be completely clear that this is cycle space rather than car space.
At this location the cycle way was moved sideways to be much further away from motor traffic.
Another example of the overgrown side-walk that has now been removed. Pedestrians are allowed to walk on the cycleway. They are not allowed to walk on the road way (because there is a cycleway).

Ride showing the before and after situation (West to East).


Ride from East to West

I showed you a number of side by side comparisons from ‘s-Hertogenbosch before:

Before and After 4
Before and After 3
Before and After 2
Before and After 1

16 thoughts on “Another before and after in ʼs-Hertogenbosch (5)

  1. Hi Mark,

    I can’t believe the speed limit is 50km/hr and that nearly every motorist in the videos seems to be complying. Given the Dutch apparent penchant for speeding, what do you credit this compliance with? Cameras? Police presence? In Australia that road would be at least a 70km/hr speed limit and more likely 80.

    It would also seem the capacity of the signalised intersection near the eastern end has been increased, with the addition of extra lanes for motorised traffic created by bending the cycle paths outwards which is only a slight inconvenience for cyclists. So it is possible to upgrade a road for all users without it being a zero-sum game. This includes pedestrians as I concur there would only ever be a few who would need to use this road and they still can do so safely.

    That Dutch 1990 design with painted bike lanes is state-of-the-art in Australia and there are no signs from governments, road authorities or our so-called cycling advocacy organisations that this standard will be changing soon.


    PS I see the city is trying to create a visual barrier on the narrow separator by letting the weeds grow tall 😉

    1. The speed limit of 50km/hr is the blanket upper limit in any built-up area. So you can never go faster in any city. It is enforced by cameras and/or surveilance. So the drivers are conditioned to respect it (even though it does not always lead to them sticking to that speed limit).
      Well spotted that the intersection has been changed. That is because there is a whole new road that connects to that intersection. The street to the right was a dead-end small street before. But with a completely new bridge it is now an important through route (with perfect cycling infrastructure of course) that is supposed to take pressure of another route. I will have to post about (the reasons for) this new road too. Only problem is I have already lined up posts until the end of the year… so it may take a while.

      1. Of course a posted speed limit, or dot matrix signs, like you see on motorways, can change that. Some roads in urban areas that are not autosnelwegs or autowegs do have 70 limits, but most distributor and through roads are 50 km/h areas, and access roads, 30 km/h. I also suggest taking a look at some other methods that the Dutch use to get drivers to obey 50 limits. narrower lanes, speed tables at or near junctions, designed to allow no speed higher than 50, central dividers making cars go around at fairly sharp angles, and roundabouts.

  2. The thing that amazes me the most are not the new cycle tracks, but that cycling-infrastructure (for german standards: excellent infrastructure!) was implemented even during the 70ties

    1. The city of ‘s-Hertogenbosch only uses red asphalt where it is necessary to emphasise what the cycle path is. Here it is absolutely clear what is what and then the far cheaper normal black asphalt can be used.

  3. [quote]Under the 6 year cycle plan of ʼs-Hertogenbosch that ends this year, this is one of the last routes to be updated. Later this year I plan to show you exactly what has and what has not been executed of that 2009 cycle plan, that I then wrote about as well.[/quote]

    It’s a pity that the plan has not been replaced by a new one. We didn’t need another big overhaul like the 2009 plan, but there are still many places in the city where improvements would be wanted.

  4. Let’s all chip in so that BicycleDutch can buy a wind muffler. It would improve the videos so much.

  5. Mark, you never cease to amaze me on your ability to hold a camera steady with one hand while riding. Most other bicycle riding videos that I’ve seen are made with the camera on their bicycle or on their head. That usually produces a jittery image or side to side movement and if sped up it creates a video that is difficult to watch.

    Here’s a video of a bike path that opened last year along San Fernando Rd in the east side of the San Fernando Valley in the city of Los Angeles. It runs along a railroad right-of-way which has Metrolink tracks on the other side of the fence for diesel locomotive powered passenger trains.

    All arterial streets in Los Angeles have posted speed limits of at least 35 mph. That means that at least 85% of the motor vehicles travel at least that speed.

    This bike path has no driveways and intersections are mainly just where major streets cross. This is due to the railroad right-of-way. Typically major streets in Los Angeles have many intersections and driveways. There is no intersection treatment specifically for bicycles. Your either treated as a motor vehicle riding in the street or as a pedestrian with a crosswalk and walk signals.

    Before this bike path was built there was no sidewalk or bike path on this side of the street. So its a major improvement over having to ride in the street.

    A video of the first parking protected bike lane in the city of Los Angeles along Reseda Blvd in the west side of the San Fernando Valley. Previously there was a conventional bike lane to the left of parked vehicles. Green thermoplastic sheets that were installed at the approach and exit of intersections and also where there are driveways. In 2007, New York City became the first U.S. city to install a parking protected bike lane.

    The bollards are plastic which are self-erecting if hit.

    I counted 22 driveways in the video. This is typical of arterial streets in Los Angeles.

    The sidewalk treatment is just white and gray paint rolled on the old concrete using masking tape to make it look like stone.

    Again, no intersection treatments specifically for bicycles. The Los Angeles Department of Transportation only has a annual discretionary on-street bikeway budget of about $2.1 million. Which means this is a expensive project for the amount of money they had to work with. Building something for that amount of money would be out of the question. Installing bicycle specific signals would greatly limit the annual amount of miles of on-street bikeways that could be created.

    Having ridden a bicycle on this cycletrack shortly after it was installed, I believe that this is a step up in comfort and safety for cyclists. It will be difficult to determine whether this improved safety as there are few bicycle riders along this street. Bicycle riders tend to have a good sense of the level of safety. If this noticeably increases the volume of cycling then the level of safety probably also went up.

    The continental crosswalks, or zebra stripes, in the video are also a relatively new design element that were first installed in Los Angeles in about 2011. The DOT make the crosswalks much wider than before. I’ve noticed that the motorists now tend to stop further away from where the pedestrians walk wherever the continental crosswalks are installed. This at least makes it more comfortable for pedestrians to cross the street. Extensive installation of these continental crosswalks has not reduced the amount of pedestrian involved traffic collisions. Each succeeding year from 2011 through 2014 had higher pedestrian involved traffic collisions.

    From the year 2007 to 2009 there was a 66% increase in bicycle commuting in the city of Los Angeles due to a sharp rise in the price of gasoline in 2008. There was no more than 18 to 24 miles of bike lanes installed in that period of time. The Los Angeles Police Department reported a 46% increase in bicycle involved collisions in that time period.

    Compare that to 2011 through 2014 when the city installed over 200 miles of bike lanes on about 7% of the arterial/collector streets. The bicycle commuting increased from 2011 to 2013 by about 25% and yet the bicycle involved collisions in 2014 were less than in 2011 and had increased by about 1% in 2013 compared to 2012. The bicycle commuting numbers for 2014 are not yet available, but it is very likely that these will be higher than in 2013 due to the amount of bike lane miles installed.

  6. Why was the curb on the left side not updated to the forgiving curb design? And one of these days would you mind putting a few cameras showing the light cycle from each approach? I want to see how they are signalled for everybody. 10 minutes would be good. I want to show my city that the waiting times are not very long.

  7. I thought I’d asked this before but couldn’t find it. Which side should people walk on the bikeway?

    There is great debate here in the U.S. over this. We have many MUPs (multi-use path) and these often have more walkers and joggers and roller bladders than bicycle riders. MUPs generally work well when EVERYONE keeps right except to pass (or walk next to a friend). People walking/jogging on the left aren’t much of a problem if the paths aren’t busy but as traffic increases this becomes a significant problem.

    OTOH, it can be more comfortable for some people to walk/jog on the left so they can see approaching traffic.

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