Improvements to the cycle route Oirschot – Boxtel

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When I wrote about the cycle route from Oirschot to Boxtel, two years ago, I was very critical about the state of maintenance especially of the Boxtel part. Tree roots had damaged the cycle path considerably and I drew parallels to the cycle route that had been here in the first half of the twentieth century. That path disappeared in the late 1940s because it was not maintained by Boxtel. Today I am happy that I can write: history is not repeating itself.

The main cycle route from Oirschot to Boxtel follows a very old road through the countryside. (Map Google)
Pre 2007 the road had no cycling infrastructure at all. At this location the cycleway is now on the former road and the road is to the left of it where there were meadows.
The exact same location in 2020 with the cycleway and the separate roadway (that is narrower than the original road was).

A short while ago I cycled to the stunning new bridge in Oirschot and on my way there I noticed something was very different on the Boxtel part of the excellent cycle route between the two towns. The part that had been badly damaged was no longer there. That part was already bad when this route had just opened in 2007. That it was still bad in 2018 was inexcusable in my opinion. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what had changed exactly, but that seems amazing after I compared the footage of two years ago with today. Not only the root damage had been taken care of, Boxtel also made sure it wouldn’t happen again: over 130 trees were removed! This changed the entire appearance of the road. That is a bit more than “something different.” The removed trees were mostly poplars. The wood from poplars was always used for wooden shoes and as such they are seen as a material rather than a valuable tree. Some older oaks and beeches have also been cut, those are types of trees that are generally considered valuable. A cutting permit from March 2018 already stated that 94 poplars and 4 oaks were in a dangerously bad state, and needed to be removed. On top of that, over another 30 trees were considered an urgent safety hazard for passers-by, in July 2018. This led to the immediate removal of those additional trees. I am not sure whether that is true or maybe a convenient reason to make this legally possible, but a spokesperson was very serious about it in the local press. “Heavy branches could fall off and it cannot be ruled out that entire trees could snap.” It is a pity about all those trees but it is clear that the cycle way improved a lot from their removal. The cycle path was widened and there is now a completely smooth new top layer of red asphalt. The cutting permit states that the lost trees will be compensated with new trees. That is not always at the same location and in this case no trees were planted alongside the reconstructed cycleway (yet).

In 2018 there was a sign informing people using the cycle way that the surface was bad.
The same location today. The cycleway was widened, it has a new surface of smooth asphalt and -sadly- all the trees have been cut. The white stripes on the outside are unusual for the Netherlands but they are very helpful to notice where the edge of the cycle way is in the dark.
The damage was really considerable. From every tree the roots damaged the surface. Once there is a crack and water gets into it and it starts to freeze in winter then it only gets worse.
The current state of the cycleway surface is totally different!

That wasn’t the only major change to this cycle route. While I had been harsh about Boxtel there was also a part in Oirschot that had root damage two years ago. I didn’t write about that because compared to the Boxtel damage it wasn’t quite worth mentioning. But with the Boxtel repairs this part would now have become the worst part of the entire route. That is not what happened. The municipality of Oirschot also repaired the damage. The town has had a stretch of asphalt of about 100 metres completely replaced. At this location the trees causing the damage weren’t cut, I hope the foundation was also improved or the roots will almost certainly cause the same damage again in a couple of years. The Oirschot part of this route is in black asphalt, while the Boxtel part is in red asphalt. Red is recommended, but not required.

This curve in Oirschot (where the surface is black asphalt) before the replacement. You can’t really see the root damage here but those smaller trees also did a lot of damage.
The entire surface was replaced, the root damage wasn’t just patched.
At this location you can actually see the root damage.
The damage from the last picture has been repaired.

There was a final minor repair very close to Oirschot that looked brand new. So fresh even that the asphalt was still “spilling”, a phenomenon that usually stops after a while. This method of patching the asphalt is not very common in the Netherlands, we usually replace the entire width of a cycle way, but when I looked up the footage of 2018 I saw that there had already been a patch at the time. A pothole had temporarily been filled with bricks. There is a driveway at this location. Motor vehicles using the cycle way (in this case crossing it) are the only other reason for cycleways to get damaged. Roots being the other as we have seen at the beginning of this post. Bicycles do not damage the asphalt. Even with their very small footprint (where the tyres put pressure on the surface) they are simply not heavy enough to cause wear.

In 2018 this was a pothole that was repaired with bricks. You can see that vehicles turning from the road into the driveway caused this damage, not tree roots.
In 2020 this patch has been filled with fresh asphalt. The patch is much larger than the first repair patch with the bricks was.

Maintenance is essential to keep cycleways in top condition, but as I wrote in a previous post it has been noted by foreign observers centuries ago that maintaining things in a good state of maintenance seems to be a Dutch trait. Fortunately, the cycle route between Oirschot and Boxtel is now also in excellent condition. In the short video you can see a comparison between the path two years ago and now. The longer video shows the entire ride from Oirschot to Boxtel filmed with my new camera.

The before and after video shows the difference between 2018 and 2020.

Video showing the entire ride from Oirschot to Boxtel.

The sped-up version of the ride.



6 thoughts on “Improvements to the cycle route Oirschot – Boxtel

  1. Thanks, wait you’re still shooting handheld? I found a recent post about the gopro and a mount.

    1. I should update that 6 year old post. I also use a mounted GoPro and 360 Camera indeed. Hand held is now against the law, that is why. But most is still hand held…

  2. Hi,
    what kind of gear you use for video and audio? Also where do you mount the camera?

  3. The infrastructure looks much better indeed, but all these trees… they are after all emblematic to the calmed road infrastructure in the northern parts of non-Nordic Europe

  4. Funny that you say, “maintaining things in a good state of maintenance seems to be a Dutch trait”. Watching these vvideos, I mentioned to my wife ( because this past February we had a new roof and solar panels installed, so now we notice the condition of roofs ) that we never see a roof that looks like it is in dire need of maintenance, or replacement.

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