All about cycling in the Netherlands
The cycle bridge near Berlicum was opened in December 2016. It shortened the ride to Den Dungen, but it didn’t really connect both villages very well yet. A strange detour had to be made around some fields. That has now been remedied with a new cycle path across those fields. But there is always something to be desired.
Already in the planning phase of the cycle bridge it became clear that just building the bridge would not be enough to connect Berlicum and Den Dungen better, two villages in the same municipality of Sint-Michielsgestel. I wrote about this in my blog post when the bridge was opened. The distance had been reduced by building a bridge over the canal that had been a barrier between the two villages for almost 200 years. The route was shortened by 600 metres, which made the new distance 4.7 kilometres, where it had been 5.3 kilometres before. Still a long way when you consider the distance between the villages is only 2.3 kilometres as the bird flies. When you look at the map it becomes clear that with a new shortcut across some fields that distance could be reduced considerably more. Unfortunately, at the most logical place to build it, the location where most would be gained, is the location of two houses. On top of that, the route from those houses to the bridge ramp entrance would cut through the middle of three fields. Meaning it would go through people’s home gardens and it would render three fields less usable. That made the most logical route not the most preferable route. About 375 metres to the east, a route could be chosen that follows the border of three other fields. Meaning just a narrow strip on the edge of that land would have to be purchased from the respective owners. There was also already a recreational walking route there on the grass, so the land already had some double use. This means that, although the route could have been shorted by another 750 metres, it does make sense that this particular location was chosen. If only the access ramp to the bridge would have been designed differently! That access ramp now goes straight north-west, in the direction of ʼs-Hertogenbosch. This means that anyone coming from the south-east, including from the new cycle shortcut, must ride all the way to the beginning and ride the entire length of the ramp twice. I sincerely hope that a second ramp in the direction of the south, to Den Dungen could be built in future. That would shorten the distance between Berlicum and Den Dungen by several hundred metres again and for cycling that really does matter.
But we should maybe focus on the positive outcome. In total 1.6km (or one mile) was already taken off the total distance between both villages, which is quite something. No wonder most people are rightly pleased with the shortcut. Building started last November 2017 and was supposed to take about 6 weeks. That became a period of ten weeks, simply because building in winter always takes much longer than expected. On 2 February the ʼs-Hertogenbosch branch of the Cyclists’ Union festively opened the new shortcut with an inaugural ride. They did that because the municipality had no plans for festivities, but the Cyclists’ Union felt the need to mark the occasion. The path is of a good width and has a surface of nice smooth asphalt. Black asphalt; not every municipality choses red for all the paths. Some only use red asphalt in conflict areas. Especially solitary paths, such as this one through a field with no car infrastructure in sight, can often be found with a surface of black asphalt.
The municipality wrote that the new path will be lined with flower beds. Flower seeds have been sown this spring. The path runs through an old river bed, the river Aa valley, that will be restored. The canalised stream will in future meander again, like it did for hundreds of years. The banks of the stream will become wet land, so that the area will be more attractive for water-loving plants, insects and small wild life. It will also be a great area for recreation. It is nice to see that this new cycle infrastructure was also an incentive to upgrade the quality of the landscape.
My video about the new cycle shortcut
between Berlicum and Den Dungen.
A ride on the new cycle shortcut
from the Den Dungen side to the edge of Berlicum.