A ride from Market to Market (2)
The almost 16 kilometre ride from the fortified town of Heusden to ʼs-Hertogenbosch takes you through a typical Dutch river landscape. You can cycle mostly away from traffic on endless dedicated recreational cycleways that you only have to share with sheep sometimes. I filmed the entire route from the Fish market (Vismarkt) in Heusden to the market (Markt) in ʼs-Hertogenbosch.
The former fish market (Vismarkt) in Heusden is now a square where you can sit and have a drink. The entire fortified town is a 30km/h (18mph) zone, but there are almost no car free streets. Tourists do not drive into town though. There are large parking lots just outside the fortified town.
Heusden is the starting point in this second part of my new series showing rides from Market to Market. The municipality of Heusden is formed by a number of towns and smaller villages. Combined they are home to over 43,000 people. The fortified town, after which the municipality is named, only houses about 1,500. Yet this tiny town has had city rights since the 13th century. In 1968 a large restoration project started which took about 40 years to complete. The fortifications – originally built from 1579 to 1597 – were brought back to their former state. The bastions, ravelins and the walls with windmills on them, draw a lot of tourists nowadays. Part of the route I cycled is also part of the long distance cycle route (430km) alongside the river Maas (Meuse).
The ramparts around the town are a lot higher than the surroundings and that is why windmills were always built on top of them. This meant they could catch even more wind.
Two years ago, the chair of the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain, Mark Treasure, cycled from Gouda to ʼs-Hertogenbosch. With André Engels (a local follower of my blog) I picked him up in Heusden. After we had a drink on the Vismarkt, we cycled to ʼs-Hertogenbosch with Mark. We then decided to ride through Vlijmen, because we wanted to show the good cycle route from Vlijmen to ʼs-Hertogenbosch, but to get there we had to go to and through Vlijmen, a town that has almost no cycling infrastructure. Mark was not impressed. He even mentioned Heusden and Vlijmen in his post about “bad bits” in The Netherlands.
“The town of Vlijmen, in the municipality of Heusden, was very poor, with no infrastructure at all to speak of, on quite busy roads and streets. It felt uncomfortable, even on a Sunday afternoon.”
In this post I’ll show you that you can avoid those bad bits in this alternative route. The route I take now is actually the better route, which the route planner from the Cyclists’ Union advises.
This map shows all the fortificatons very well. Detail from a map of the municipality of Heusden from Wikipedia. The red line I added shows how I left the walled town.
The cycle path through the fields alongside the river is rather narrow but that is because this is a recreational route. The picture shows one of the many cattle grids that make a gate unnecessary, even though cattle (sheep) can roam freely in these meadows, also on the cycle paths. The warning sign informs that it is not allowed to bring dogs into these meadows for obvious reasons. Horse riding is also prohibited.
The sheep seem not at all startled or bothered by people cycling past. They are obviously very used to it, even the lambs were totally unimpressed and just continued with what they were doing.
Occasionally one of the sheep was a bit in the way, but it was possible to cycle around the animals. I did reduce my speed here, you never know what such animals could do.
The route takes you through the village of Bokhoven (in the municipality of ‘s-Hertogenbosch) where this young girl was learning how to ride a bike. She panicked a little when she saw me approaching. But her mother reasured here, shouting “Don’t worry, that man is not going to ride into you!” while she rushed to her daughter to grab and stop her. Apparently the girl had not yet mastered the skill of braking.
Just outside Bokhoven, a short part of the route is on a rural road shared with cars. It was not really busy, but on this picture you can see that already three cars can cause a small traffic jam. The road is not wide enough to easily pass and so the drivers had to decrease their speeds drastically. I even had to wait for them.
The route has many bollards, which seem quite unnecessary, but this bar was the worst of all. Because of the hedge in the background, the bar becomes completely invisible. So I assumed this was just another of those bollards. I only saw the horizontal bar when I was already really close. I was just able to turn the handlebars and pass on the “wrong” side of the post. This horizontal bar should be marked much better! This is where the recreational type of infrastructure ends and the ordinary infrastructure starts in ‘s-Hertogenbosch.
These three boys were kind enough to demonstrate just how wide the ordinary bi-directional cycleways really are. Even with his arm stretched out like that, the boy could not reach me.
In the built-up area of ‘s-Hertogenbosch I encountered 4 traffic lights. Three of which turned green as I approached, because of the detection loops (also triggered by other people.)
This was the only signal which was red. I had to stop here for 4 seconds. That is because the advanced detection loops had seen me coming and the installation was able to give me a short green time in between the green cycles of other traffic users. More on how traffic lights work in an upcoming post.
The cycleways have priority over every side-street. This driver on the right was waiting for the other person and also for me to pass on our bicycles. Only after we’d passed he would be able to move further to the roadway.
The street from the central station to the city centre of ‘s-Hertogenbosch is one of the few streets to have on-street cycle lanes. The street is traffic calmed, it is not a through route for motorised traffic, but it is outside the 30km/h zone, so the default speed limit in the built-up area is applicable here (50km/h or 31mph).
This driver makes a bad left turn. He shouldn’t have started to turn before all the pedestrians had finished their crossing. Now he blocks the way for people cycling straight-on.
The destination: ‘s-Hertogenbosch city hall on the Markt (Market).
Map of the route. This is from the route planner of the Cyclists’ Union. The route was just under 16 km. It took me 53 minutes so I cycled 18 km/h on average. A bit slower than usual, but I had a fierce head wind and I had already cycled over 30 kms to film another 20 km ride that morning.
The full 16 km ride compressed into just 10 minutes.
The entire ride real-time (53 minutes)!