BICYCLE DUTCH

All about cycling in the Netherlands

Cycling from Scheveningen to The Hague

Recently I cycled to the sea side resort and former fishing town of Scheveningen (now part of The Hague) and I noticed the road to the beach had completely changed since my last ride there several years ago. On my way back to The Hague Central Station I decided to film the new wide bi-directional cycle way with its perfectly smooth red asphalt surface. It can serve as an excellent example of what modern main cycle routes look like in the Netherlands.

The new Nieuwe Parklaan cycle route from Scheveningen in the direction of The Hague.

This road was originally constructed as a new way to the beach in 1890. It was intended to be a prime location for new grand houses for the wealthier class of The Hague. Houses on the Nieuwe Parklaan (“New Park Avenue”) as it was named could only be free standing and needed to be at least 8 metres from the road. This led to a type of street that is unusual in this densely populated country. The also new electric tramway was constructed parallel to the roadway and both road and tram tracks were lined with trees. These later full grown trees in four lines turned this road into a beautiful boulevard.

A picture of Nieuwe Parklaan shortly after it was constructed in 1890 with then also young trees. The large building on the horizon is the beach resort hotel “Kurhaus” that is still the most iconic hotel in Scheveningen.

This aerial picture from 2005 from Google Earth shows that you could almost not see the road or the tram tracks besides it because of the large trees.

The current Google Earth picture from 2019 clearly reveals the road, the bright red cycle way and the tram tracks because the trees needed to be removed for especially the reconstruction of the tram tracks.

The tram line was the reason for the recent reconstruction of the entire road. The tracks were too close together for a larger type of tram that the city of The Hague intended to use in future. The new tram carriages would also be too heavy, so the tracks needed to be replaced completely, including the foundation and also the overhead wires. Unfortunately, because the new tracks needed be further apart, most of the over a century old trees could not stay. As is customary in the Netherlands the city took this opportunity to also replace other services such as the sewer pipes and street lights.

This older Google Streetview picture shows the before situation of Nieuwe Parklaan. There is a cycle path on either side of the street. The surface consists of red concrete tiles.

The most recent picture of Google Streetview shows the current situation. A two-way cycle path on the left hand side of the narrowed road. What was the cycle track on the right hand side of the road has become a platform of the tram stop.

The actual reconstruction took place between August 2015 and July 2017 and cost about €4.8 million euros. It has become practice in large parts of the Netherlands that the contractors doing a job like this inform the residents about the project and how it will impact and temporarily disrupt their lives. This contractor did that in a very modern way. They created an app to keep the residents up to date on events related to the reconstruction of their street. In just a short while the app was downloaded 400 times – far more than there are dwellings in the street – it meant that so many people were connected that the contractor would even have been able to give these people a push notification in case of an emergency.

This before situation shows that the cycle track on the right hand side (to The Hague) was very narrow (less wide than the car on the left) and it was located right between the roadway and the tram tracks. These blocks were not very safe either.

In the after situation cycling has been relocated to the left hand side of the road. That means there is more space for the new tram tracks that needed to be further apart from each other. The road way has become 2 x 1 lane with a median, which follows the latest design recommendations of the Sustainable Safety policies.

Of course the residents of this street, but also people from the rest of The Hague and Scheveningen, mourned the loss of the beautiful trees. In 2018, one observer wrote: “Oh how different it all is. The Nieuwe Parklaan looks a bit sad at the moment and it will for some time. So many trees were removed for the new tram rails. It is true that many new trees were planted but how much time will it take before they are as grand as the former ones? And yet, sad or not, you can now see much better how the wide boulevard gently meanders. How wonderfully designed really.”

Until 2011 the intersection of Nieuwe Parklaan and Plesmanweg was a standard four arm junction. It had advanced stop lines for cycling on two of the arms and on-street cycle lanes on (almost) all four. This also wasn’t a protected intersection. The cycle crossings,  with the dotted lines, are very long! (Picture Google Earth, 2008)

The very same intersection has been modernised around 2012 and it is now a textbook example of a urban roundabout with priority for cycling on the circular cycleway around the inner circle for motor traffic. Note that this roundabout fits in the exact same space as the former four-arm junction. Contrary to what some critics think, these roundabouts do not require more space. Notice how much shorter (and thus safer) the crossings have become compared to the ones on the four-arm intersection! In the video I arrive on the bi-directional cycleway in the top-left corner and leave the roundabout in the bottom right corner. Thanks to this roundabout that can be done without stopping. (Picture Google Earth 2019)

I can only agree. This is my way of looking to the world, always seeing the positive in things. That is not very hard to do when you look at the new cycle route. It has become a bi-directional wide main cycle route with a smooth surface of red asphalt following the gentle curves of the street with the grand buildings that you can now see much better. The four types of traffic in this street are now neatly running side by side. There is a wide foot path on either side for pedestrians and then there are three separate main routes, one for the trams, one for motor-traffic and one for cycling, beautifully separated by lines of newly planted young trees.

At the beginning of the street there is a police station and the many police vehicles are parked on dedicated spaces all around the station. This, however, does not seem to be right. It is fortunate that the cycleway is so wide that you can easily swerve around this police van, but this can’t be how it was supposed to be parked.

The upside of a bi-directional cycleway is that it is easy to overtake slower people. The downside is that you can sometimes be on the “wrong” side of the road when you have business on the other side of the street. But in this case the tram tracks can also only be crossed at a limited number of crossings so that is not really too problematic. In such situations (it is similar for roads alongside canals) bi-directional cycleways can actually be preferred. Car drivers do need to watch for cyclists coming from the “unusual” direction. That normally goes well, but in this particular ride you can see one driver clearly misjudges my speed and I can only barely pass behind her vehicle crossing my path. No real harm done, but I did give her a disapproving look. The transition, near the border with The Hague, from the bi-directional cycleway on one side of the road to two one-way cycle tracks on either side goes very smoothly on a roundabout with priority for cycling. From there it is one straight line to The Hague Central Station.

This car driver did look in my direction at right about this time. She should have stopped right there to let me pass but instead she judged that she could make the crossing before I got there.

This second picture shows that was a misjudgement. I had stopped pedalling already and pulled the brakes, otherwise I would have hit the car. Dutch drivers do make mistakes too. As a road user you must always be able to respond to that.

Thanks to my slowing down I could pass behind the vehicle, but only just. One of the more closer encounters with a driver at fault in a long time.

This new cycle route fits perfectly in the Traffic Vison for Scheveningen for 2025 drawn up by the city of The Hague in 2016. In this vision the city writes:

“With public transport the bicycle is an important alternative to the car. The city of The Hague invests in a network of main cycle routes and bicycle parking facilities. […]. These main cycle routes are direct, comfortable and of a high-quality. They connect areas on the edge of the city with the city centre. The main cycle route alongside Nieuwe Parklaan has recently been finished.”

Some other points regarding cycling from this Traffic Vision are:

  • Good cycle facilities offer an enticing alternative to the car.
  • Along the coast line as well as from the city centre to the beach there will be a dense network of high quality cycle routes
  • Missing links in the current cycle network have to be solved.
  • At important destinations in Scheveningen and all along the coast there will be more than enough (temporary) bicycle parking facilities.
  • For e-bikes there must be enough charging points spread all over Scheveningen. They will be located in public bicycle parking buildings, where, besides ordinary bicycles, investments will be made to offer other types of rental bicycles such as e-bikes and (e-)cargo bikes.
  • Where existing bicycle parking facilities have to make way for other developments new facilities of at least the same number, standard and quality need to replace the lost ones.

This father and son demonstrate that the cycleway is wide enough for a parent to cycle besides their child and there is still space to spare. Thanks to the fact that the cycleway is bi-directional the moped approaching from behind will be able to pass these two in a safe manner.

Most municipalities in the Netherlands keep investing in new cycling facilities. Changing what the streets look like at an incredible pace. It is hard – for me on this blog – to keep up with all things going on in this country. I was happy to just stumble upon this particular project. I filmed the ride with my 360-camera attached to the handlebars of my rental bike. But in this particular case I decided to film from eye level, not from over my head. That means the view to the rear is just looking me in the face all the time, which I think is neither necessary nor aesthetically pleasing. This means you only get to see the forward images as an ordinary, yet very wide-angled video. Enjoy the ride!

My ride from Scheveningen to The Hague. Shown in real-time.
It was 4.7km in a little over 15 minutes or an average speed of about 19km/h.

5 comments on “Cycling from Scheveningen to The Hague

  1. Pingback: What We’re Reading: The Left Holds, Win Them Over, and Overcoming Inaction | The Urbanist

  2. tesseractorion
    8 October 2019

    Reblogged this on tesseractorion.

  3. Ian Lane
    3 October 2019

    I find the route past the Scheveningen Bosjes to be much more scenic, but great video anyway! I haven’t lived in the Hague in many years, but while I was there I biked all the time between Scheveningen and my home on Koningsplein in the Hague. Thanks for a great video!

  4. John Carl
    3 October 2019

    I look forward to each new video and also like watching the old ones again. Thanks.

  5. Joseph Bayot
    2 October 2019

    Thanks for this excellent write-up! I love living in The Hague and look forward to the rest of the city being similarly modernized in such thoughtful ways. My area of Kijkduin/Loosduinen could definitely do with a bit of that.

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This entry was posted on 2 October 2019 by in Original posts and tagged , , , .

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