Riding from Delft to The Hague in the dark

It is never fun to discover that your train service is suspended due to upgrading works and you will have to use a bus instead. I hate being on a bus. So when I recently had to go to Delft in a weekend that the railways chose to be working on the line’s expansion I decided to choose a much more attractive alternative: the bicycle.

Spoorsingel in Delft. Under that water to the right is a parking garage for cars. There used to be a raised railway line here. The railway is now underground parallel to that water and the underground parking garage. Yes, there is no fence between the street and the water. (Follow the link for a before and after picture in daylight of this location.)
A bidirectional cycleway in Delft. Well used on a Saturday night.

The train service was suspended between Schiedam (near Rotterdam) and The Hague. So Delft could not be reached. The line is being upgraded to be able to handle a staggering 14 trains per direction per hour in the future. The alternative bus service between Schiedam and The Hague would stop at every station of the line and because the roads to those stations aren’t as straight as the railway itself that always takes a lot of time. When I found out that it would take even more time than cycling I quickly made the decision to cycle the almost 10 kilometres from The Hague Central station to Delft.

One of the few parts that have a rural feel to it. This is in the municipality of Rijswijk. The well lit route alternates between cycleway and cycle street with almost the same layout. Here too, no fence between water and road.

The route was very straightforward and even though it is a very long way from where I live or work I had cycled almost 75% of it before. The part from Delft to the cycle bridge in Rijswijk (that I showed before on this blog) and also a big part from The Hague central station south, in the direction of Delft. Since I would be doing this in the evening I knew it would be in the dark. I decided to try out the 360 camera in these conditions, just to see if that would be possible. Since I wasn’t sure I would find the 25% of the route that wasn’t familiar to me right away, I decided to film the return ride. (I didn’t get lost, but of course I would have had I filmed it.)

I had never seen the LED lights in the railing of the cycle bridge “De Oversteek” (The Crossing) that I had shown you before (filmed in daylight) on my blog.

Although the camera did manage to film in the dark the stabilisation wasn’t working at all. I believe my front light that was visible on the surface may have caused the images to be dancing like that light. That meant I had to stabilize the images in my editing software and that didn’t go all too well. The footage became more grainy and there are added zooming effects that aren’t very nice. However, I still believe it may be interesting to show you a complete intercity ride in the night in the Netherlands, for this one time with low quality images. To make matters worse the camera also ran out of batteries at about 25 minutes. So the last 5 minutes I had to film with my iPhone, hand held as I always did, but which has become illegal since 1 July 2019. Fortunately I wasn’t stopped…

Trams also go from The Hague to Delft. The tram almost functions like a light rail here with a completely separate track.

I made two versions, one sped-up which is okay if you just want to get an impression of the route, but there is also the real time version of one half hour, giving you the opportunity to see and experience what riding is like between cities in the Netherlands in the dark.

This part of the route was of an older date. This becomes clear from the outdated design. Too little space between road and cycleway and the surface of uneven concrete tiles. That the tiles are red means that this path must be from the 1980s or early 1990s. Here there is a fence between the path and the canal (now on the left hand side) because the water was much closer here.

Although it may not seem so with all the turns I make, the route is very straightforward. Because you have to follow a canal all the time you can’t really get lost. It is not an official fast cycle route, but it could almost qualify. The only tricky bit is that the route makes you switch to the other side of the canal sometimes and you have to do that at the right spots. That also brings you in different municipalities (since the water is often the border between them). This return ride took me from Delft to Rijswijk and then to Voorburg, then back to Rijswijk and then finally to The Hague. This area is so densely populated that the most rural part was not actually between two places, but in Rijswijk.

I had to make a left turn here onto that bridge. You can see the ramp is very steep. I had to dismount because of that and also because there are bars to prevent you would want to try and cycle up (or down!) here.

If you look at the images you can see that I encountered many types of infrastructure in very different qualities. Surfaces ranged from smooth red asphalt to red concrete tiles and even bricks. The route was mostly on cycle streets, only next to some busier roads there were separated cycle paths. But even then I had to directly interact with only five car drivers. Two cars crossed while I had to give way and three were coming at me from the opposite direction. This was filmed at a Saturday night from 21:45 to 22:15 but still that is very little interaction with motor vehicles in 9.77 kilometres.

The roads in The Hague can be rather wide. Fortunately the cycleways next to these roads are also wide and they have a perfectly smooth surface of red asphalt.
Wide roads also mean long crossings. The cycleway on this crossing is also very wide. Note how small the people on their bicycles appear. And you can see that just one direction of the path is wider than the cars are wide.

In The Hague I had to deal with 2 pedestrians on the cycleways. One crossed without looking and I decided to simply pass behind him. The other people he was with had clearly seen me and waited with crossing so that was no big deal. The other pedestrian was walking in the middle of the cycleway next to a friend and I had to warn her that I was going to pass her, since there was no room to pass her safely. I never like to use my bell, because mostly pedestrians do exactly what you do not expect them to do. That was also the case here. Instead of moving to the right as I expected her to do, closer to her friend. She stopped, turned around to see where the ringing was coming from, and then started to step backwards exactly in my projected path. (Because I was trying to pass her on the left). That forced me to adjust my steering because I now had to go between both pedestrians, which is of course not what you would want to do. She obviously realised that had not been my initial plan and did say “sorry”, but I found the reaction to stop and turn around when someone rings a very odd one.

Closer to the centre of The Hague the cycleways are much narrower. These two pedestrians were walking on the middle of the path (they should have walked on the other side of the street). When I rang my bell the left pedestrian stopped and then stepped backwards exactly to the location where I had planned to pass her. Thanks to my lower speed I was able to correct my trajectory and pass in front of her instead.
These shark teeth really confused me. They should have been placed in one line, because now they appear to point to the top-left, not towards me as they should. I don’t think this is according to the design manuals.

I encountered 9 working traffic lights in the ride. (One installation in the beginning near Delft station was switched off, which is usual in the Netherlands when traffic is light.) At five of these lights I had to stop. The total waiting time of these stops was 1 minute and 40 seconds. Especially the last 40 second stop at the light near The Hague central was annoying. Not only because there was no other traffic at all and I had to wait for no apparent reason, but also because I missed my train by about 20 seconds. Without that final stop I would have caught a train earlier than I did now and I would have been home half an hour earlier.

This is a nice demonstration that a cycleway can never be too wide. Thanks to the fact that there is no level change between the footpath to the right and the cycleway these two cyclists were able to move to the right (and on to the footpath) to let me pass.

The most peculiar part in the route was a very steep bridge at the border of Rijswijk and Voorburg. This bridge is so steep that there are wooden ridges on the slope to give your feet more grip. Needless to say I had to dismount to get myself and my bicycle up there. This isn’t visible in the video since it was also pitch black especially at the other end of the bridge where bars also prevent you can cycle there.

This traffic light turned red just as I arrived and stayed red for 40 seconds. There was no other person or vehicle around. I stood there pointless for 40 seconds. Very annoying, especially when you then later miss your train at about 20 seconds… I am not used to such ‘dumb’ traffic lights. They are much more intelligent in ‘s-Hertogenbosch.

All in all the route was very relaxed and easy and I was very pleased that I chose this option over taking the bus, especially when I heard others at the party complaining about the buses. It was also very nice to see the cycle bridge at Rijswijk in the dark. The LED lights in the railing really give it a nice feeling in the dark.

The route as I cycled it. Note that the flags are the wrong way around. That means I actually cycled the route that would be best when you cycle from The Hague to Delft. Without realising it at the time, I used it in the other direction. Especially in Voorburg and The Hague I could have cycled a slightly different route.

Sped up version of this ride. (5 minutes)

Real-time version of the the night ride from Delft to The Hague (30 minutes).

Jitensha Oni was again kind enough to analyse my ride in detail. I think it is striking that the ratio of motor vehicles to cyclists is 6 to 23 in this particular ride although 57% of the distance is in space shared with cars. On the other hand 93% of the ride was on dedicated cycling infrastructure. Some of that dedicated cycling infrastructure is indeed shared with motor vehicles. Thanks to the few bollards on this route the volume of motor traffic is kept very low.

This was the last ordinary post of the year. Next week it is time for the annual recapitulation of all my posts. One day before Christmas I have a nice seasonal video for you and then I have a week off until next year.

8 thoughts on “Riding from Delft to The Hague in the dark

  1. I think I walked it in 1997 as part of a 17-KM trip that included the Maritshuis.

  2. I agree with you, I do this exact route twice a day and also love it. Unfortunately I do it during rush hour so all the lights are turned on for me…

  3. For accommodation consider Vrienden op de.Fiets.
    For route planning the above has a useful link.
    For navigation, IMHO, you can’t beat Osmand+. The paid-for version is good value for money. Just be willing to learn how to get the best out of it.

  4. Indeed, a very odd reaction. She knew that she was walking on a bicycle path. Hence, when you hear a bicycle bell ringing you move to the right. Because, normally passing is done on the left hand side.

  5. My wife and I are coming to the NL this June to travel by bike throughout parts of your country. I’ve read about the signage that helps direct cyclists from town to town, is it really as simple as it seems from the descriptions? You mentioned not getting lost… We will be in completely unfamiliar territory. Anyway, we’re very excited to come and visit your country.

    1. It is. If you want to prepare for your rides, you can get more information on: https://www.hollandcyclingroutes.com/ ( https://www.nederlandfietsland.nl/lf-routes ; https://www.hollandfahrradland.de/ ). You can view or use (GIS) maps quickly on: https://www.fietsplatform.nl/netwerkbeheer-en-promotie/landelijke-routedatabank
      And there are even some more Dutch websites with extra information, for example https://www.anwb.nl/fietsroutes/fietsknooppuntenplanner

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