All about cycling in the Netherlands
Another “real ride” in this week’s post. One from the main square in my hometown (very close to my home) to the city’s hospital. The city hospital of ʼs-Hertogenbosch used to be in a large complex of historic and brutalist 1960s buildings in the historic city centre. It was first mentioned in the year 1274. The hospital moved away in 2011, when the new building at the edge of the city was opened. This hospital serves an area for 360,000 people and with 1120 beds it is one of the larger hospitals in the Netherlands. The former brutalist buildings were demolished in 2015. The old hospital area, including the listed historic buildings, is currently being redeveloped as a residential area. The Jeroen Bosch hospital is named after Hieronymus Bosch, the city’s famous painter.
I never used to visit hospitals. In the time from 1995 (when I moved to ʼs-Hertogenbosch) to 2011, I only needed to be at the old location of this hospital once or twice. Now, at well over 50, I need to visit more often, for regular checks, but fortunately it’s nothing serious. I am also lucky that the hospital is just an easy bike ride away from where I live, even now that it was relocated to the edge of the city. The ride is 2.37 kilometres and in that ride I encounter just one signalised intersection. That means the ride is almost non-stop and since I rode it in under 8 minutes I had an average speed of 18 kilometres per hour.
The cycle path outside the city is located on a former elevated rail road. The embankment (or dike as we Dutch call it) now serves as a real dike in case of an emergency. ʼs-Hertogenbosch is a city where two rivers merge and then flow into a third. The rivers Aa and Dommel merge into the river Dieze that in turn flows into the river Meuse. The last time that we had serious flooding was in January 1995. The city narrowly escaped disaster. The water rose to 10 centimetres below the top of the dikes. To prevent the city from being at such a risk again a catchment basin was constructed just south of the city. This basin, a nature reserve, can be flooded when needed by opening an inlet. The area can then hold 4.5 million cubic metres of water. It is believed this emergency option may be needed once every 100 to 150 years. The cost to construct this water storage facility/nature reserve, finished in 2012, was 20 million euros. A fraction of the damage that the city would sustain if it were to flood.
The hospital has some bicycle stands in front of the main entrance. The stands are very well used. You might say that a better bicycle parking facility would be needed. Double stacked racks with a cover would be better. There is such a bicycle parking garage for the staff at the back side of the hospital, (on one floor of the staff car parking garage) but not for visitors.
There is a parking garage for visitors’ and patients’ cars. This is a facility that you need to pay for. Few hospitals in the Netherlands have free parking spaces. This hospital in ʼs-Hertogenbosch has a multi-story parking garage with room for 650 cars. There is another parking area (a bit further away) for 222 cars with a free shuttle service. When I filmed the ride the main entrance was under reconstruction. A canopy was built between the main entrance and the parking garage, so people can walk from one to the other protected from the weather. In front of the main entrance there is a kiss and ride area where you can only stand to let passengers exit or enter the car. You cannot park there, not even for a few minutes. Parking spaces for the disabled are available in the parking garage, but they are also paid. That is, after the first half hour, which is free. After those first 30 minutes the rate is €1.50 for the first quarter of an hour and then €0.50 for every subsequent 15 minutes, to a maximum of €10.00. Parking for one week is €25.00. Parking is paid because the hospital has to provide these parking spaces at their own cost and the parking revenues need to fully make up the cost. The rate effectively amounts to €2.00 an hour which is much cheaper than in the rest of the city.
My bike ride is rather uneventful, but that is exactly what we want it to be; no stress, convenient and attractive.
Enjoy my ride!
My video showing the ride from the Market in ʼs-Hertogenbosch to the city’s hospital.