All about cycling in the Netherlands
It was freezing cold and everything was covered in a white coat of snow when this new bridge was festively opened for pedestrians and cycling early March this year. To many it may seem like just another bridge. But this bridge was carefully designed to blend in with its surroundings and to offer a socially safe possibility to cross the large body of water that divides two neighbourhoods of Groote Wielen, a residential area under construction in the municipality of ʼs-Hertogenbosch.
The design for the 85-metre-long bridge over the Groote Wielen plas was chosen by a jury with professional members and residents. The jury report contained the following praise:
“The design is simple, harmonious and powerful and shows a good connection between the bridge deck, its legs and the abutments. The design is graceful, transparent and consistent, and joins the surroundings in a natural way.”
The architects, Arc2 architecten, made a reference to the reed around the lake with the yellow golden railings. These railings give the bridge an interesting appearance when you look at it, but a maximum visibility when you look out from the bridge to its surroundings. You can easily look past the skinny yellow bars. This clever design makes the bridge a landmark, but at the same time it is not intrusive in the wide-open landscape. The views are not affected. The bridge deck could be very slender, thanks to an intelligent construction. This also means the bridge could be less tall in total and therefore the access ramps could remain less steep. The abutments were rounded meaning there are no dark corners for people to hide at night. Together with good lighting this makes the area on and under the bridge socially safe. A necessity in a neighbourhood with many young families.
The bridge was commissioned by the city of ʼs-Hertogenbosch. When its alderman for traffic, Eric Logister, opened the bridge on that snowy 3rd of March, the asphalt for the motor vehicle part could not be laid yet, due to the freezing weather. That is why the bridge was initially only open for cycling and walking. Not many people were using the bridge at first. Most of the homes north of the bridge are still under construction. The first few houses were finished just after the bridge was opened. That was the main reason to open the bridge even before it was completely finished. The neighbourhood will have 730 dwellings in the very near future. Then a separate part will be constructed with 500 dwellings in family homes and apartment buildings. In the more distant future a further area will be developed with room for another 2,000 houses.
The bridge is just over 14 metres wide and has a part for motor traffic with one lane in each direction and a bi-directional cycleway with a surface of smooth red asphalt. It took a while before the cycleway leading to bridge was connected to the rest of the cycling network but now that has been done it is very easy to reach the bridge. On a sunny Sunday afternoon many people on a recreational ride seem have found a way to use this bridge in their rides. It would appear people were curious to see the bridge for themselves and ride across it. It think most will agree when I say this is a very nice bridge, worth a small detour!
My video of the new Groote Wielen Bridge.