All about cycling in the Netherlands
Cycling infrastructure should not only be good on the main routes, you need to be able to cycle everywhere in a city. When the Dutch designate certain routes as main cycle routes it doesn’t mean that you cannot cycle safely on other roads, you can. All main thoroughfares have cycling infrastructure and you can also cycle very well in the traffic calmed 30km/h zones. This week I show you a recently updated cycleway on a through route in ʼs-Hertogenbosch, that is not a part of the city’s main cycle route network, but that does connect to it on both ends.
The Reitscheweg in ʼs-Hertogenbosch gives access for motor traffic to an industrial and office zone at the edge of the city and also to a zone for big box stores. Cars enter from the rest of the city and from the A2 motorway. There even is a motorway access in the street. The street formerly had on-street cycle lanes, but they were of an older type with paint. That paint had faded and the rest of the asphalt was also in a bad state. Due for ‘major maintenance’ the street was upgraded to the latest type of infrastructure. In this case that meant that the inferiour type of bicycle infrastructure (those on-street cycle lanes) was replaced by the real deal: a separate bi-directional cycleway on one side of the street.
Bi-directional cycleways are increasingly common in The Netherlands but they should be implemented with care. In an inner-urban setting with many end-destinations on both sides of the street they are usually not advisable. In that case people will often have to cross the street extra to get to their end-destination. If it could be good for a certain larger group of people cycling to be able to ride ‘on the wrong side of the road’ (for instance to get to a school more quickly) you will often see a bi-directional cycleway on one side of the street and also a one-way path on the other side. Bi-directional cycleways can be a good idea when there are only a few end-destinations on one side of the street, or in sub-urban areas where they can be planned in such a way that you have to cross larger roads fewer times. They can also be a good solution when they connect to existing bi-directional cycle routes that are completely detached from motor traffic routes. Both latter conditions are met here on Reitscheweg and Aziëlaan. At the south end the route connects to the fast cycle route from ʼs-Hertogenbosch to Oss (where there is no motor-traffic route). From there it takes you under the rail road (motor traffic has no crossing there) and then it keeps you on the side of the street that does not interfere with the A2 motorway access. The down side, in this case, is that this route takes you to one junction on the ‘wrong’ side of the road with only poor visibility (see picture below). Fortunately Dutch drivers have become so used to bi-directional cycleways now that they generally do look in the direction where they would normally not expect people cycling to arrive from, even when the sight-lines are as poor as in this case. But it is strange that a new sign blocking the view was allowed to be put there. The street passes a nature area where you can choose a very nice cycle route on the old road, that has now become for cycling only. I showed you this former country-road before. The street ends on the very large road to Rosmalen that has a bicycle fly over that I have also shown you before. That street has a bi-directional cycleway on one side of the road as well.
The cycleway feels quite okay to cycle on, it is wide enough for the cycle traffic volume, but the partition verge between the roadway and the cycleway does not meet the minimum standards everywhere. The CROW manual states that it should be at least 35 centimetres. The verge does meet that requirement, but the manual continues and states that in case of a bi-directional cycleway it should be at least 1 metre and that is certainly not the case at a particular stretch of this street. “Not enough space” will be the excuse, I’m sure, or wanting to save the existing trees. The city of ʼs-Hertogenbosch has also chosen to use the standard type of kerbs (curbs) with the 90 degree straight angle, instead of the more forgiving splay kerb. Why that is, I don’t know. ʼs-Hertogenbosch does use the more forgiving type of kerbs as well, so it is strange they didn’t here.
Even with these minor shortcomings, all in all the street update is a great improvement over the former on-street cycle lanes.
Ride from South to North (the updated part starts at 01:10 and ends at 03:25)
Ride from North to South (updated part 1:03 to 03:09)