All about cycling in the Netherlands
The F28 Fast Cycle Route from Utrecht to Amersfoort is currently under investigation. In today’s post, I will show you what the possible route looks like now. That’s right, I am going to show you the before state of a new fast cycle route without any actual work done yet on the ground. This project is still in its very early stages. The very first newspaper article I found about this route was only published on 29 August last; nine days after I filmed my ride.
The province of Utrecht would like to connect its two largest cities, Utrecht and Amersfoort, by a high-quality cycle route that would make it possible to cycle the 18.5-kilometre route almost non-stop. At the request of the province Loendersloot Groep consultancy have written a plan to study the feasibility. I was allowed to study the proposed route. It starts in the north-east of the city of Utrecht and then also goes to the north-east. That is an area that I am very familiar with, because this is where I grew up and spent the first 30 years of my life. I have cycled so much in this area when I was younger that one look on the map made it possible for me to cycle the entire route without having to look on a map again once. That is not only because I know the area so well, I hadn’t been to some of the route for at least 30 years, but also because this proposed route is very intuitive. Well, at least for an ex-local it is!
I filmed my ride with a new app that one of my readers recommended. That means the images are much more stable than what you are used to, even at 6 times normal speed. But there was a down side too. The app had trouble adjusting the lighting and the route runs through some very sunny parts and some very dark parts under the trees. It meant I had to stop often and re-adjust the lighting manually, every time the lighting was too different.
As you will see in the video, the route is already remarkably good. You could already use this as a fast route, but of course to make it a high-quality fast cycle route a lot would still have to be done. Let’s look at it from municipality to municipality with some pictures to explain things.
Length of the route in this municipality: 2.9km
For the time being the beginning of the route is set at the north-east corner of the old city centre. From there a 4-metre-wide bi-directional cycle path starts. That is already the right width. Where the route is not up to standard, it will be very soon, because it coincides with the route to connect the Utrecht University area with the North of the city. That means Utrecht will not have to do much extra work. Some bollards on a bridge would have to go and there are five sets of traffic lights that would need to be adjusted so they would be friendlier to cycling. Apart from that, Utrecht is already pretty fine.
Length of the route in this municipality: 6.75km
The municipality of De Bilt (formerly Bilthoven) carries the longest part of the route and I think it has quite a few issues. The total of all the different types of infrastructure works a bit messy. The route should become a whole much more than it is now. A residential area needs to become a cycle street with red asphalt instead of pavers. There are a lot of narrow one-directional cycle tracks with a type of ‘Armadillos’ right next to them which are too dangerous. The narrowest part of the entire route is also in this municipality. This is a bi-directional path of just 1.93m wide. That is a lot below the required width of 4 metres and can’t stay this way. I saw two people coming towards me there and I thought they were going against traffic. The town of Bilthoven also has a roundabout that is too small. Fortunately, the street that needs most work, because it has on-street cycle lanes now, is already on the list for a complete makeover.
Length of the route in this municipality: 2.25km
Although the route through this municipality is not too long, a lot needs to be done in the town of Den Dolder and the route is also not certain yet either. It could either go north, directly past the station of Den Dolder, but only if it is decided that the level railway crossing there will be closed to motor traffic. If that is the case you can have a fast cycle route there. If not, the south route is preferable. That is the alternative I filmed. But that route runs through residential streets with pavers, without any cycling infrastructure right now. The first part would get one-way 2-metre-wide cycle tracks with smooth red asphalt on either side of the street. Other streets in this municipality could become cycle streets, because the motor traffic volume there is low enough. The solitary cycle path (which means it does not run next to a road for motor traffic) running parallel to the railway, is very narrow, so it would have to be widened.
Length of the route in this municipality: 5.6km
This municipality also carries a long part of the route, most of it through the woods. There are two problems here. The first one is that the path was renewed very recently, but at a width of 3 metres. That means it is not meeting the high-speed cycle route standards, which is an interesting challenge to deal with. More pressing is the fact that the cycle path is now only accessible in daylight. Even though this is a nature reserve, that could not stay this way. In wintertime both the morning rush hour and the evening rush hour take place in the dark in the Netherlands. It would be unacceptable to have a part of the fast cycle route that could not be used in rush hour part of the year, so this must be changed one way or another. Quite easy to remedy are two gates to keep out unwanted car traffic, which are very unfriendly to cycling now. Those gates should be replaced as soon as possible, even if the route would not go through as planned.
Length of the route in this municipality: 1km (extra distance cycled/filmed: 1.57km)
The route through Amersfoort – one of the name giving municipalities – is the shortest stretch in any of the municipalities. It is just one kilometre and it will become even shorter: 150 metres shorter. Apparently the city of Amersfoort has decided the route ends where the forest path meets the first road in Amersfoort. That road will be shifted south by 150 metres and the current level railway crossing will be transformed into an overpass. The future fast cycle route should end at that future overpass that will also make cycling possible over the railway. Of course, it is already possible to cycle from there to the city centre and I did indeed cycle all the way to the station of Amersfoort. The video shows that most of that route is already at a very good standard.
A route like this will not be executed as one big project. Usually the different municipalities are expected to tackle their “problem areas” one by one. If all goes well, the newspaper article reveals that that could happen in the period between 2018 and 2020. I am already looking forward to being able to film the after situation in three years’ time!
Video with the current state of the possible future F28 Fast Cycle Route
from Utrecht to Amersfoort (filmed on 20 August 2017)
Often when I make longer tours, an interesting mapping may appear a few days later on Twitter by Jitensha Oni. These maps are so interesting that I re-tweet them and even ad them to the post. But I feel the maps deserve an even bigger audience. So this time I gave the bicycle devil the opportunity to see this post ahead of the publishing date. That means I can include the map right away from the beginning! Enjoy the always interesting statistics that are the result of a study of my video and the route on Google StreetView.
The province of Utrecht and the municipalities of Utrecht, De Bilt, Zeist, Soest and Amersfoort gave the go-ahead for the realization of the Utrecht-Amersfoort express bike route on Wednesday afternoon March 13th, 2019. More information (English).