All about cycling in the Netherlands
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.
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.
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.)
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sped up version of this ride. (5 minutes)
Real-time version of the the night ride from Delft to The Hague (30 minutes).