All about cycling in the Netherlands
An 8-kilometre-long ride through Rotterdam, from the edge of the city in the South, all the way to Central Station. The ride was filmed in one take, to show you some great cycling infrastructure. That’s this week’s post in a nutshell.
On one of my many recent visits to Rotterdam I had the opportunity to film this ride. It will show you what it is like to ride in the Netherlands’ second largest city. This was filmed on a Friday, late afternoon, from 16:45 to 17:15. It is clear that rush hour starts at about that time. Especially near the end of the video, in the city centre, it is very busy; not only with cars, but also on the cycle paths.
This is one of the main cycle routes into the city. The sign posts call it cycle route number 5. My video starts at the corner of Charloisse Lagedijk and Langenhorst. Officially that is in Barendrecht, but the sign with the name Rotterdam indicates that you are in Rotterdam very quickly from that point. The route takes us due north on Langenhorst, a road with unidirectional separated cycle paths on either side. Just north of the first roundabout (with priority for cycling of course) is a counting point for cycling. The figures for this point are mentioned in the latest cycle plan for Rotterdam. On a weekday, a very modest average of 573 people pass here on a bicycle.
The route takes us through the Zuiderpark and then alongside some very large roads. All of which have protected cycle paths, mostly bidirectional on both sides of the road. The route for motor traffic even has a number; the S122, mostly. Near the large intersection Zuidplein there were some road works on the cycle path. It was striking that an all too common sign was clearly missing; the “Cyclists Dismount” sign. That is no coincidence. Rotterdam has introduced 10 rules for contractors who do road work. Rule number 7 is interesting for cycling “Cyclists are not requested to dismount and provisions are to be made for pedestrians.” That means you shouldn’t see any “Cyclists Dismount” signs in Rotterdam. This rule was in place for a long time already, but it was not always observed. The city is now more alert when road works are authorised and that is clearly visible in the streets.
In Rotterdam South, at the Maashaven, there is another counting point for cycling. This location (much closer to the city centre) counts 2,522 people on a bicycle on average on a weekday. The route continues north and takes us over the Erasmusbridge. This is one of only a few points where you can cross the river and that is clearly reflected in the figures. An average of 10,968 people cross the bridge on a bicycle on a weekday. Far more than the first river crossing, the Maastunnel, that is used by 5,277 cyclists per weekday. I wrote about the Maastunnel before. The tunnel turned 75 years-old last 14th of February.
The number of traffic lights in Rotterdam is relatively high and you lose a lot of time at the lights. In this ride, I had to pass 14 signalised intersections. Not all the signals were red, but the total time I waited at red lights was 6 minutes and 6 seconds (26.1 seconds on average). On a total trip of 29 minutes and 27 seconds that is a very high percentage. I had to stop at red lights 19% of the time.
The longest wait was at the bottom of the Erasmusbridge with a red time of 1:51! I am really not used to such long waits and so many lights in ʼs-Hertogenbosch. And that is also why it went wrong at one of the signals. I ran a red light. Inexcusable, of course, but I am going to explain why it happened. The crossing of Blaak has a light in the central reservation. Such lights are uncommon, but when they do exist they are usually coordinated. I did not expect it to turn red any time soon for that reason. As I was approaching that second light, someone took a shortcut on the carriage way and that distracted me. While the camera kept pointing at the light turning yellow, I was looking at what that guy was doing. When I turned my eyes back to the light it had turned red, but it was too late to stop safely, so I continued. That does seem the better choice: instead of coming to a standstill on the carriage way, I now made it to the other side of the road in time.
Near the end of this journey, in the city centre, you can see that it is clearly rush hour. The cycle paths are very busy and the paths are used at their maximum capacity. There is just space enough for people to wait for turning lights for instance. The final street I cycle on is Weena. That street has a counting point for cycling as well. On a weekday, some 8,247 people pass through here on a bicycle. But even in rush hour, the entrance to the underground bike parking facility at Rotterdam Central Station can be reached in a fairly convenient way. I handed back the OV-Fiets I hired from there and I returned home to ʼs-Hertogenbosch by train.
The sped-up version of the ride (3 minutes).
The ride in real time (29:44m).