All about cycling in the Netherlands
A high-speed cycle route from ʼs-Hertogenbosch to Zaltbommel had been considered feasible for a very long time, but it was never built. Two of the three municipalities the route runs through have now decided they are going to write an action plan for the (re)construction of the cycle route. So what is the route like now? See it in this third post in my series of cycling from Market to Market.
Zaltbommel is one of the larger towns in the west of the province of Gelderland at the banks of the river Waal. Mostly known in the Netherlands because of the bridge in the important motorway A2 to cross that river. The Dutch always call Zaltbommel a city, even though it only has a little over 12,000 inhabitants. Maybe because it was granted city rights in 1231 and had been mentioned already in the year 850. This historic town is about 16 kilometres (10 miles) north of ʼs-Hertogenbosch, which means it is an easy bicycle ride away. I cycled the 16.15 km from Market to Market in exactly 48 minutes. So (again) at an average speed of 20km/h.
Zaltbommel doesn’t really seem a town where the bicycle comes first, but it is interesting to see that the town seems to be changing a little bit. Last November 2015, the council approved a trial to make the Market Square car free. It would be one of the first areas in the town to become car free. (Which is very late compared to other Dutch cities.) The council now stated the trial will start at the end of 2016. It will cost 15 car parking spaces and to “make up for that loss” the town will introduce 20 minutes of free parking in the city centre. To finance that, the town will have to introduce paid parking on the (up to now) free parking lots just outside that centre (at walking distance!). Will councils ever learn that car parking and a thriving centre have nothing to do with each other? A better change was the recent update of the bicycle parking facilities at Zaltbommel’s railway station. There are now 1,226 places to park your bicycle there. Even better news, with regard to cycling, was the council’s decision to start looking into the high-speed cycle route to ʼs-Hertogenbosch after all.
Late 2015 both the councils of the municipality of Zaltbommel and neighbouring Maasdriel decided they will investigate the feasibility of that route. In January 2016 both councils agreed to start writing a plan. Maasdriel hopes it won’t cost too much and that could be the case. Most of the route in that municipality is already on a good bi-directional cycleway that may only have to be widened slightly and possibly resurfaced. The route in the municipality of ʼs-Hertogenbosch is also already largely built to the standards of a high-speed cycle route, but it is a very different story in Zaltbommel! The bi-directional cycleway running through ʼs-Hertogenbosch and Maasdriel stops right at the municipal border of Zaltbommel and changes into on-street cycle lanes on a 60km (37mph) rural road. Not quite the quality of a high-speed cycle route! Fortunately it is not a very busy road, as opposed to the provincial road around Zaltbommel that needs to be crossed to reach the town’s centre. That provincial road, bypassing Zaltbommel, is under reconstruction. The province has widened the road and it was partly relocated. The opportunity was taken to build an underpass to cross this new road. The bicycle tunnel was opened on 4 April 2016, but it will have to be finished in the coming months. One of the things that will have to be done is placing a work of art on the walls. It is good that there is a grade-separated crossing now, but unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be built according to the recommendations for a bicycle tunnel in a high-speed cycle route. It seems a bit on the narrow side. Which is a missed opportunity now that Zaltbommel has just decided to build such a route.
In the built-up area of Zaltbommel we mostly find concrete tiles as cycleway surfaces, so that too means quite some work needs to be done. This all seems to be rather negative, but the route really isn’t that bad as a whole. You can see that in the pictures and the videos with this post. The sped-up video has some extra information to explain what you see. The real-time video, 48 minutes long, is especially for some of my fans who really want to study all of the route in detail.
The ride (sped-up: 9:33 minutes)
The ride in real-time (48:21 minutes)
A council member of Zaltbommel picked this blog post up and published it on his Facebook page. That in turn drew the attention of the local press, resulting a a page long article in the local newspaper (Brabants Dagblad) of 2 June 2016.