All about cycling in the Netherlands
To review 2016 I made a video that includes short clips of every video I published this year. It is a good tradition to look back at all that you’ve done in the year that is about to end, so, just like last year, I did a roundup of the all my own posts and videos of 2016 in one video! If you discover something of interest, that you may have missed, or would like to see again, you can find the date and the title of the corresponding blog post with what you see. But you can also find a description of all the scenes, with a link to the original post, below the video.
The 2016 roundup!
I started this year with the biggest transformation I ever showed on this blog. The return of the Utrecht city moat in the place of the motorway that had been there for over 40 years. This was at the same time also the most viewed post this year. I’d like to think that was not only because it was published at the beginning of the year, but rather because it was liked and shared a lot.
There were many more, smaller, transformations this year in Utrecht. Often, the re-openings of the changed streets were marked with some sort of celebration. The festive opening of Leidseweg was the subject of one of my posts. The residents and entrepreneurs of Twijnstraat, “already a shopping street in the 13th century”, as the by-line on the street signs tells us, also organised a party. But the post just showed you how the street changed from a car oriented street to one for people. Much better, when 96% of your visitors arrive on foot or by bike! The complicated five-arm junction of Adriaen van Ostadelaan in Utrecht was stuck in the 1970s. A time when it was still considered a main route for motor traffic. That is no longer the case. Reason why the intersection was modernised and reconstructed as a people’s space. A huge transformation! A similar thing happened in Tolsteegsingel and Maliesingel. The car no longer comes first in Utrecht and it is beginning to show in a lot of streets. Even on main motor traffic routes the space allocated to cars is drastically reduced. The Utrecht inner city ring road was downgraded from 4 lanes to two in ‘t Goylaan. Main cycle routes on the other hand were upgraded. Cycling gets more space and the surface is changed to smooth red asphalt, this happened next to a canal on Kanaalweg and next to a main city street in Vondellaan. Some routes still have to be upgraded. The transformation of the route alongside the river Vecht was postponed. It is a future alternative for the route alongside bigger roads, that was already upgraded.
I used both these last two routes to reach the care home of my father on my many visits to him this year. Every day in the final stage of his life. Late October my father passed away and I wrote a post as a tribute to his life. This post got an overwhelming response. In the post, I also remember how my dad taught me to ride a bicycle and how to fix a flat. Strangely enough that post also ended in the top 10 this year.
Back to a much happier topic: Love and flowers! A couple holding hands was a little extra post on Valentine’s day. And who wouldn’t be happy after the long grey winter (we haven’t seen snow in the last winter, or this one yet!) when the flowers start to bloom again in spring! This year I finally found the time to go to the tulip fields in Holland proper. The video with the exploding colours of the bulb flowers in South-Holland was a joy to watch.
One of the larger projects this year was showing you the cities that made it into the final to become Cycling City of 2016. Never had the 5 cities been so far apart. I went to all corners of the country and even spent the night in Groningen in the far north. I slept in an extremely cold hotel room with broken heating. For this series I visited the cities and towns in alphabetical order, so I went to Goes, Groningen, Maastricht and Utrecht. Of course, Nijmegen came before Utrecht, but that was also the case in the end result. That’s why I finish with winner Nijmegen now. In 2017 there will not be a Cycling City of The Netherlands competition. The next Cycling City will be elected in 2018, in a very different way. The Cyclists’ Union will review all Dutch cities and elect finalists based on many factors, including data from their own route planner. Cities no longer have to sign up themselves.
An important topic on my blog are bridges and underpasses. They link up otherwise separate parts of the cycling network. In a country with so many waterways and other barriers the bridges and tunnels are essential to complete the cycling network.
This year I showed you the Amsterdam Rijksmuseum underpass from inside the museum. A new passage in Tilburg to get to the other side of the railway from the city centre also involves riding through a building. An old dark and scary tunnel in Eindhoven became a lot more attractive with a silly walk mural, opened by mr John Cleese personally. Another old piece of infrastructure in Eindhoven is the 43-year-old ‘bear pit’, which gets new murals every year in the “step in the arena” graffiti festival. The contrast with the serene little ‘bear pit’ in Goes couldn’t be bigger. The new Bartenbrug in my hometown ‘s-Hertogenbosch seems very straightforward as well, but there’s a whole story behind it. Some infrastructure projects go wrong big time, also in the Netherlands!
Back to the more outstanding pieces of infrastructure. I showed you the wooden cycle bridge near Grubbenvorst and a very special cluster of bridges in ʼs-Hertogenbosch, that even has a connection with Wales. That bridge is also for motor traffic. The motorway bridge near Zaltbommel is mainly for cars, but even on such a bridge there is a good space for cycling.
I stayed in Zaltbommel to also show you what the bicycle parking facility of a smaller town looks like in the Netherlands. To compare that with a bigger city, I showed you one of the facilities in Leiden as well.
To show you how well connected a city is to the surrounding towns and villages I started a new series this year. From the market of ʼs-Hertogenbosch I rode to the market of 5 places at an about 20-kilometre distance. I filmed all rides from beginning to end. This meant you could ride with me to Waalwijk, Heusden, Zaltbommel, Boxtel and Veghel. Apparently, the series was not so interesting to most. The 4th and 5th instalment ended in the top five of least viewed posts. I get the hint, no more long series!
I did show you other longer routes though. One in the countryside, from Grubbenvorst to Venlo. And one in the latest city expansion of Utrecht. Another long route is the F59 from ʼs-Hertogenbosch to Oss, also an about 20-kilometre distance. It was finished this year. Reason to show you what the route is like now.
Priority at commercial driveways was one of the other topics, as was a thorough investigation into how traffic lights work in my hometown ʼs-Hertogenbosch. I visited the local expert who went to great lengths to explain me everything. Great that this was a top 10 post!
Coincidentally the cathedral of my hometown could be seen in several videos this year. First from the nature reserve just south of the city where people cycled as the summer lingered on. And then when I stood on it to watch people cycling past. I also took you inside the cathedral, because donated bicycles, that people had to spare for the city’s refugees, were blessed there by the bishop.
Two posts that don’t really fit in any category are the ones in which I describe the investigation that could radically change the way we design our public space in the Netherlands. And to finish the round up I mention the one where I report the fact that I was officially appointed “Dutch Cycling Ambassador” by the Dutch Cycling Embassy.
Those were all the 53 posts I published in 2016. That means it is time to look at the year’s lists.
You really seem to love the posts in which I show a big transformation! I was surprised by the fact that the puncture repair scored so high. I really like that three of the 5 city portraits that I made for the Cycling City of the year competition ended in the top 10. They are extremely time consuming to make, so it is very nice that that is exactly what you seem to want to see! The rest of the top 10 is a mix of perfect cycling infrastructure, innovative traffic signals and an investigation into new ways to organise our cities.
Good to see that the least viewed post was my latest post. That means it only scored so low because it was published recently. That is not the case for number 2 and 3. Apparently 5 rides from market to market was a bit too much for you. I will make sure to publish only series of three in future. The couple riding hand in hand for Valentine deserved more views! Number 5 is understandable: nobody likes cycling next to a motorway!
I must thank you, my followers, again for your continued support. Thanks for the comments, here, on Facebook, on YouTube and on Twitter. It was great to meet some followers in person. In the classes of the Summer Schools of the Boston University and the Amsterdam University. Even on the street of Utrecht, I was approached just like that, out of the blue. The same happened at the Cargo Bike Festival where a follower wanted a picture to be taken. Someone from the UK even moved to Utrecht because of this blog (while that is still possible). Even though it was ‘only’ for 80%; wow!
I do intend to continue the blog but there will be changes. More about that after the end-of-the-year-holidays, that start right now. I wish you all great holidays and let’s meet again in 2017!