All about cycling in the Netherlands

A ride from Schijndel to ’s-Hertogenbosch

A flat tyre is never convenient, but when I was checking the tunnel in Schijndel for my recent blog post earlier this month, 14 kilometres from home, without any repair gear on me but the pump that comes with my bicycle, it was especially inconvenient to suddenly have a flat back tyre. But I was also lucky! This happened on a Saturday afternoon close to 4pm, so I knew shops would still be open for at least one more hour. I looked for a bicycle shop nearby on my smart phone and fortunately there was one at a less than 15 minutes’ walk.

“Trouble shared is trouble halved”. My tweets about my flat tyre got a lot of attention.

This bicycle shop is run by a member of the same family my own bike shop is run by. There are quite a few in the region, all distant cousins and descendants of the same great-great-grandfather who opened the first family bicycle shop over a century ago in 1911. I wanted to buy a repair kit and fix the tyre myself right there, as I was taught to do by my late father. But when I tried to pay for the box, explaining that I would otherwise not be able to reach ʼs-Hertogenbosch, the young man in the shop said to my surprise: “Oh but I can still repair it for you if you want.” The sticker on my bicycle, showing the same dealer name, may have helped, but I was very happy he could do it. “It will take about half an hour, sir.” I agreed and walked into the town centre of Schijndel. Killing half an hour was easy on market day and when I came back I had a new back tube. The hole had been too close to the valve and too big to repair and for just €18 he had sold me a new tube including the labour to get it around my back wheel, making it possible for me to cycle home.

The first few metres of the ride were in the pedestrianised zone of Schijndel in which cycling is allowed.

The 30km/h zone in Schijndel has raised intersections to make it extra clear that the standard priority rules are applicable here. Meaning all traffic coming from the right has priority.

I had intended to film my ride home, but with my delay it was now getting dark already. I still decided to film the ride, not because this ride is on exceptionally good cycling infrastructure, but rather because this is such mundane infrastructure. Nothing special (at least not in this country), but great for purpose.

A rather close pass, but thanks to the low speeds even a pass like this does not feel very risky or uncomfortable.

Where the speeds for motor traffic go up to 50km/h (at the edge of the town) right away we see the start of a separate service street designed as a cycle street.

I gave Jitensha Oni the chance to look at the filmed ride in advance, as I did with the Utrecht to Amersfoort ride and he again made a beautiful infographic about the type of infrastructure I encountered in this ride. On top of that he also counted the other riders and the motor vehicles I met on this journey!

This beautiful infographic was again made by Jitensha Oni. The distribution of motor vehicles is not very even, to say the least. I have no real explanation for it. Only that the road from Schijndel onwards to ’s-Hertogenbosch is apparently better traffic calmed.

The number of cars I had to share the 30km/h road with in Schijndel is surprisingly high. I think this had to do with the shops closing on a Saturday afternoon. This may have been the after-shopping rush hour. In the rest of the ride I encountered more riders than drivers. Mostly because I was on a parallel road to the main route for motor traffic. The ending in ’s-Hertogenbosch may be surprising to some. This was filmed on the eleventh day of the eleventh month and since 11 is the number of fools the people in ’s-Hertogenbosch celebrate the start of the Carnival season on that day. The season will last until Carnival itself, which is from 11 to 13 February 2018. That is why you can see dressed up people in the streets.

This service road is traffic calmed because it is a dead-end road for motor traffic. The main road has a higher speed limit (80km/h vs 60 km/h) so it is much more attractive to use as well.

A service street like the one from the previous picture often suddenly changes into a cycleway. The difference is minimal, just the striping is different.

You can choose which speed you prefer to see. The original speed is a 40 minute video or the 5 minute hyperlapse at 8 times normal speed. Only the normal speed video has the traffic signals explaining what type of road I’m on. Which ever you choose: enjoy!

Filtered permeability: no entry for motor vehicles except agricultural vehicles. This effectively turns this road into a cycleway where tractors are allowed to drive. Note the block of concrete that can only be passed by tractors of which the axle is a lot higher above the ground. People sometimes complain though, that SUVs can and do also pass such barriers.

The cycle roundabout near Sint-Michielsgestel. I wrote about this roundabout in an earlier blog post that it is unnecessary and over-engineering. At least the pointy corners were rounded off. This is clearly visible in the surface.

The main cycle route between Sint-Michielsgestel and ’s-Hertogenbosch is simply the old road that was closed to motor traffic by putting up a barrier for motor traffic at the ’s-Hertogenbosch side. Motor traffic has a newer and wider road, parallel to this one.

This is not the best way to take the corner… He did get to his own side of the road, but almost not fast enough. So he did get in my way already.

Filtered permeability. This pyramid can be lowered by some residents with a chip card. Most drivers will have to use the main road to be able to get to the other side of this barrier. I used this example in my video about rat running prevention.

A textbook example of a bus stop bypass.

Another bus stop, this time with a cycle street that passes behind it.

The streets in the city centre of ’s-Hertogenbosch are part of a 30km/h traffic calmed zone that people only enter with their cars if they have some business there. Note that the street to the right is completely closed to motor traffic.

This square in the city centre of ’s-Hertogenbosch is closed to motor traffic. A large part of the city centre is car-free. Only residents with a chip card can lower the bollards.

Long version of the ride.
(40 minutes, but you could watch it at double speed on YouTube).

Short version (5 minutes).
This is the original video turned into a hyperlapse.




9 comments on “A ride from Schijndel to ’s-Hertogenbosch

  1. Mikey
    23 February 2020

    I really enjoyed reading this on a day when, in the flooded Yorkshire Dales, my cycling has been curtailed for the day!

  2. Joe
    4 December 2017

    Really poor driving standard from the person in the blue car, wonder if they learnt to drive in Cambridge, England? 😉

  3. Robert Weetman
    1 December 2017

    Am I correct to think that it is unusual for Dutch people to carry a kit for repairing punctures? When I have hired bicycles in Amsterdam and Utrecht and we have asked to borrow a pump and repair kit this has been possible, but the shop was surprised. On both occasions we have cycled outside of the city – perhaps this it is a bit unusual to do this as a tourist?

    • tristnaf
      2 December 2017

      Pumps are standard on most decent quality touring bicycles, kits are not. I believe most people do not have the know-how to fix a flat tire. In most cases you would need to remove the tire off the rim to get to the inner tube. Then you need to find the puncture and repair it, if possible. Sometimes you need a new inner tube.

      The better thing to do is to only rent bicycles that are, in Dutch terms, “perfect”. Meaning the bicycle is in such a condition that breaking down is a very low risk. Generally these are newer bicycles with low kilometers on them.

      Bicycle quality differs between rental shops. Tell the bicycle shop your concerns and see what they say about the tires and overall condition of the bicycle for your needs. Not that what they say is always right mind you!

      • Jan
        4 December 2017

        I would say that most Dutch definitely have the know-how to fix a flat. However, they most likely will almost never do it. Most bikes are equipped with ‘no puncture’ tires they fail very infrequently. And if they do, it’s typically easier to leave the bike alone, hop on public transport or get somebody to pick you up with a car, and retrieve the bike later. Or if you’re in a built-up area, just walk to the closest bike shop, there are many around.

        • tristnaf
          5 December 2017

          Most people can remove a tire (and maybe the wheel) , find the hole in the tube, patch it up and put the tire back on? I would bet the answer is no, but I could be wrong.

          I have had numerous flat tires in The Netherlands over the years. I will say though in the last several years it appears the risk is much lower. I do not know if this is because the bicycle tires and tubes themselves are better these days or I have gotten better selecting the shops with the better bicycles.

          If you are a tourist you absolutely do not want to get a flat at night, especially in cold rain, far from your hotel! Bicycles also break down for other reasons. Make sure to select a good quality rental bicycle.

          • Jan
            5 December 2017

            Maybe i’m old (39), but when i was a kid, learning how to repair your own tires was a normal part of your education before you went to secondary school by bike – although most girls could do it but would rather look helpless 🙂

            Only the ‘put tire back on’ might be a bit hard: using tire levers is not recommended, high chance of pinch puncture, and doing it by hand requires some grip strength. And most people cannot remove a back wheel, so replace inner tube is no option.

            • Stadjer
              11 December 2017

              Most people I know can fix a flat tire. The question is if they really want to. I have “anti-lek” (no puncture) tires after my previous tires were worn out and had to be replaced and the difference was only a few euros. Also, most bike shops will offer to fix your flat for €5 which is about the cost of a kit, I think.

              In my lifetime (almost 30), I’ve had less than a handful of flats. Maybe 2 or 3, I think. And that was when I was a kid* and most likely cycled through glass and/or went up and down the sidewalk a few times too many. I’ve helped a friend fix a tire once as an adult. Oh and most bicycle shops/parking garages in cities have an air compressor hose (?) outside that you can use for free or maybe €0.50 to pump up your tires. Most households have at least one bicycle pump, too (although I personally prefer the ones from the bike shops).

              The most trouble I’ve had with a bicycle is when the chain falls off. At one point, it happened almost daily on a 7 km ride. You get quite good at fixing it and making sure to carry handkerchiefs/wetwipes.

              * I was 6 when my grandfather taught me how to fix a flat tire and have always fixed my own.

  4. opaangell
    1 December 2017

    Hi Mark. Sometime might you do some video’s from driver’s perspective?

    I think NL is not just better for bicycle riders.

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This entry was posted on 28 November 2017 by in Original posts and tagged , , , .


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