A huge new cycle viaduct in The Hague

Another impressive piece of exceptional cycling infrastructure was opened in The Hague. A new 335 metre long cycle bridge connects the city centre with the suburb Ypenburg south-east of the A4 motorway. The alderman for mobility, Robert van Asten, opened the bridge on 9 July 2020, 9 days after he opened the second largest bicycle parking garage in the Netherlands at The Hague central station.

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The Jan Linzel viaduct is very long and a-symmetrical. The architect decided to emphasize the ‘horizontalness’ of the bridge with the colours and the details.
The map from the routeplanner of the Cyclists’ Union shows how well this new bridge is embedded in the cycle grid (the red lines). Before this bridge was opened there was an underpass next to a busy road, to the south-west of the new bridge. That route can also still be used.

It has taken more than 10 years for this bridge to become a reality. In 2010, the plan was to open the bridge in 2013 or 2014, but that was too optimistic. I didn’t find what caused this delay, but it does make clear that cycling projects this large are not easy. The council of The Hague decided that the bridge was to be built in 2011 and in July 2020 it was finally open. The bridge forms the final link in an upgraded route from the city centre to the suburb Ypenburg, the so-called Trekfietstracé. There was a cycle route to pass the A4 motorway but it in an underpass alongside a busy road. This new cycle bridge is in a route that runs completely away from motor traffic and connects existing cycle routes in Ypenburg in a much better way.

The location of the Jan Linzelviaduct in the very direct ‘star-route’ from The Hague centre to Ypenburg. You can see it was an important missing link that has now been fixed. Interestingly Ypenburg is part of the municipality of The Hague while Rijswijk and Voorburg are not.
On the Ypenburg side of the bridge the T-junction is a cycle roundabout. I usually dislike cycle roundabouts, this one is no exception. It seems like overkill for just three arms.

The steel box girder bridge is 335 metres long and 6.5 metres wide. The two largest spans are directly over the motorway lanes which are 54 and 31 metres long. The five approach spans are 35 metres long. The bridge deck is formed by 7 parts, 3 parts of 175 metres and 4 parts of 160 metres long, weighing 900 tons in total. The bridge parts were constructed in the province of Zeeland and shipped to Schiedam from where they were transported by a special road transport to the final location on the A4 motorway. In August 2019, cranes placed the deck parts on the also pre-fabricated columns. A bridge this long is very horizontal. The architect chose to emphasise that even more with the colours of bridge deck and columns and by keeping the bearings out of sight.

The bridge was built where there was a gap in the sound barrier. The sight-lines are not very good due to this wall and that may be the reason for the roundabout.
Thanks to this bridge it is safe for children and teens to cycle independently to a lot of destinations. All the while looking incredibly cool, naturally.

Perforated aluminium panels form the sides of the bridge. On the south-west side of the bridge the mesh is partly closed. This makes a lot of sense when you know that the prevailing wind direction in the Netherlands is south-west. The partly closed panels shield people from the wind. At the north-east side the mesh is completely transparent to offer unobstructed views over the surroundings. At the bottom of the handrail integrated LED lights make sure the bridge is well lit at night. The power for this lighting is generated by the bridge itself. That is, by a work of art on the south-end. The “solar-tree” is a remarkable object of about 4 metres tall which has 7 solar panels in its top branches. The panels power the lights on the bridge.

LED lights are an integral part of the railings.
The about 4 metres tall ‘Solar Tree’ with 7 solar panels in the top branches power the bridge’s lights at night.

Hard to imagine that some people were very much against this bridge. In 2011, a resident of nearby Voorburg called it a “pure waste of public money” and he tried to keep the council from deciding to spend 12 million euros on this “unnecessary bridge”. Especially because there was a perfectly good alternative – in his opinion – in the form of an underpass about 200 metres from the new bridge. The council did decide to build the bridge, which connects Ypenburg much better than that dark and loud underpass next to a busy road.

The plan for the bridge. It is a very straightforward bridge. The only unusual feature is that it is a-symmetrical. Image Quist Wintermans Architekten
The sides of the bridge are made of perforated aluminium The left hand side (south-west) is less open than the right hand side (north-east). That is because south-west is the prevailing wind direction in the Netherlands and the more closed mesh shields against that wind better.

The new bridge was named after Jan Linzel, a fighter pilot who was stationed at airport Ypenburg when World War II broke out. He downed one and shot another German airplane in the Nazi invasion in May 1940 before his own aircraft was hit and he crashed. He survived with a leg injury. In 1943, in his second attempt, he managed to escape the occupation to England, where he joined the Royal Air Force. Jan Linzel died in 2019 at the age of 103, in Glengarriff in Ireland where he had lived since 1978. Jan Linzel was the last surviving Dutch World War II aviator and the oldest veteran of the Netherlands. His name was chosen for this bridge in a competition organised by the city of The Hague.

The water on the cycleways that can be seen in one of the rides was very temporary. The newly planted trees had to be given water to survive the recent heat. A lot of the water spilled over the cycleway surface.
In the 360 degree ride video I caught the vehicle responsible for watering the newly planted trees and shrubs. In the Netherlands cycleway surfaces and their foundations are always strong enough to carry maintenance vehicles like this one.

The Hague wants to be a real cycling city. To make cycling even more attractive the city is constructing main cycle routes (‘star routes’). One of these new or upgraded new cycle routes is the “Trekfietstracé”. For this route the city received financial support by the governmental bodies for the region and the province (Metropoolregio Rotterdam Den Haag (MRDH) and Province of South-Holland). Counts in The Hague show that cycling has increased considerably in recent years. The surfaces of existing cycleways have been improved with smooth asphalt offering 166km of extra comfort. The city wants to increase cycling with 30 per cent in the coming years. The bridge in this route is seen as a contribution to reach that goal.

Video about the bridge

A ride across the bridge

Ride in 360 degrees

5 thoughts on “A huge new cycle viaduct in The Hague

  1. It is a nice design, but too bad it took 26 years after initially deciding to build the suburb Ypenburg before the bridge was opened. When I worked in Pijnacker in 1997 the bridge was already in the plans. See https://palmbout.nl/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/039_P_DOC_.pdf for a part of the Masterplan. The grid for car traffic is very different than the structure for bicycle traffic. This means people have to learn the route by doing, cycling with neighbours and friends. As the original means of this suburb close to the city was to minimize car traffic, the design of the suburb failed. It will take years to change behavior and to get people used to this route as initially calculated.

    1. Wow that’s a terribly long time! Even longer than the Dafne Schippersbrug. After so long even the age composition of that neighbourhood will have changed. Children who could have used this bridge to go to school are working now…

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