Ride on the future fast cycle route from ʼs-Hertogenbosch to Zaltbommel
A future fast cycle route will be linking Zaltbommel in Gelderland to ʼs-Hertogenbosch in North-Brabant. The 15 kilometre route will be built from 2020 to 2022 for a budget of 16.4 million euros. How can they build it so fast and so cheap you may think. This week’s ride will show you the “before” situation. It is the fourth in my series of extra posts with nine rides. I will post one of these ride every Monday in October and November 2020.
The end-destination (or the beginning) of the future fast cycle route between ʼs-Hertogenbosch and Zaltbommel, the railway station of Zaltbommel that I showed in an earlier post.
In March 2020, representatives of five authorities signed an agreement to build the F2, the cycle route parallel to the A2 motorway from Zaltbommel, via Hedel to ʼs-Hertogenbosch. (The route runs through the municipalities of Zaltbommel, Maasdriel and ʼs-Hertogenbosch and the provinces Gelderland and North-Brabant) The route is supposed to be finished in 2022. Building a 15 kilometre high quality cycle route in 2 years for “just” 16.4 million euros may sound like an impossible goal, but to show you that this is more a conversion than a new-built I cycled the route to film it (but in the opposite direction). Most of the conversion may have to be done in Zaltbommel. On street cycle-lanes will become a separate cycleway and to cross two bigger roads two new underpasses have been planned. Interestingly enough one at a location where I remember a cycle underpass used to be until the 1990s. The route in ʼs-Hertogenbosch may well be completely different in the end. From the news I believe the desired route is on the west side of the railway, connecting to the cycleway at the back of the station and the Royal Welsh Bridge that I showed you earlier. For this post I cycled on the east side, because at the moment there is no connection on the west side. I don’t know how that route is planned exactly, but since there is talk of an underpass for the Zandzuigerweg I could deduct what may be the plan. I drew a possible course of that route on the map below in pink.
Some of the route in Zaltbommel is up to standards for a fast cycle route.
That nobody needs to wait for this route to be finished to cycle from ʼs-Hertogenbosch to Zaltbommel will become clear from this video. Most of this ride was filmed on 3 June 2020, except the beginning in ʼs-Hertogenbosch, which was filmed on 3 September because of earlier road works in the route.
The route I chose is in ʼs-Hertogenbosch passes this intersection. It was reconstructed in 2015 in under three weeks. See my earlier post.
This route has an old bridge that is going to be replaced. At the other side of the bridge there is this forgotten traffic sign. The pre-1990s dark blue version of the cycleway sign. At some time in history the cycleway must have started here. Now it is just a continuation so the sign is not needed and that may be why it is forgotten. It is the last of its kind that I know of in the wide surroundings.
At this location the route is also the F59 to Oss. The driver of this truck realised very late that people on bicycles have priority here. He did brake in the end but only just in time.
At this location in ʼs-Hertogenbosch I finally pass the railway. This used to be the main north-south route before the A2 motorway around ʼs-Hertogenbosch was finished in the 1970s. The design of the old underpass reveals that there used to be a four lane road in the middle here and two one-way cycleways on either side of that road at a higher level. The road was downgraded in the 1990s and a wider bi-directional cycleway replaced one half of the four-lane road.
Just a bit further the viaduct over the A59 also shows that this one half of the four-lane road was given to cycling. There are not normally guardrails alongside a cycleway.
This bridge over the river Maas (Meuse) is the municipal border between ʼs-Hertogenbosch and Maasdriel. It is also the provincial border between Noord-Brabant and Gelderland.
Most of the cycleways in the municipality of Maasdriel, such as here in Hedel, are bi-directional. They may only need to be resurfaced and slightly widened.
At some of the crossings the priority may need to be changed. A main cycle route usually has priority over motor traffic not the other way around as is the case now.
Every Dutch school child’s nightmare: a flat tyre in the middle of nowhere…
At the municipal border between Maasdriel and Zaltbommel the protected cycleway stops and the 60km/h road only has on street cycle lanes. This will become a separate cycleway in two directions like most of the rest of the route is now.
There are a number of speed bumps to prevent drivers to go faster than the 60km/h (which they do anyway). The on-street cycle lanes do not lead you over the speed bumps. You can bypass them on your bicycle.
At this location the route crosses a formerly main road. Until the A2 motorway was finished this was even the main road. That is why there used to be a narrow underpass here. Apparently the old road is getting so busy again that in the new plans there will be a new underpass again. The bollards really need to go. They are absolutely not meeting the current road design standards.
A second driver in this route who only stopped in the last instance. This driver too made an apologetic gesture and stopped just in time to give me the right of way I legally have at this location. Fortunately, Dutch intersections are designed in such a way that drivers drive slow enough to make such a last second correction.
Video of the ride. I cycled the 15.6kms in 51 minutes; about 18km/h.
Map of the ride. In pink the possible new route in ʼs-Hertogenbosch as I understand it.