All about cycling in the Netherlands
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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 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