During the week we had snow, early February, I was briefly in Utrecht and I managed to cycle and film two routes. One from the east to the railway station and one from the west to the railway station. Both routes were well cleared of snow and ice as you would expect from a city that wants to be a world class cycling city. This isn’t an elaborate post. I will mostly say things in the photo captions, but I will explain something about the undersurface heating of the bridge I pass in the second video.
I’ve written about that bridge on top of the school when it was opened. The Dafne Schippersbrug was built at the location of an older school. That school was in the way at the best location for a new bridge which was needed to reach a new part of the city. To solve two problems at once the old school was replaced by a new one with the access ramp to the bridge integrated in the school’s design, partly going over its roof and partly over the school yard. The bridge was a huge success, but one thing didn’t turn out as expected. The on-ramp over the school was very susceptible to freezing and it became slippery before any other street in the city was icy. This was due to the location, the prevailing winds and the fact that these winds could cool the bridge deck from below. After the first winter in 2017 – in which police had to tell people to dismount for their own safety – the city decided in 2018 that this problem had to be solved for good. Undersurface heating of the cycleway was to be the solution. It seems like a missed opportunity that electric undersurface heating was chosen. Not a system with a heat pump or even a solar powered installation. The bridge had to be closed for two and a half weeks in October 2018 to install the system, which cost €200,000. It would have been cheaper had it been installed during the initial construction of the bridge. The electricity bill for this system was estimated to be €36,000 per annum. (From which I deducted that it is not solar powered.) This may seem like a lot of money but the cost to society of a lost life or injuries requiring hospitalisation are also considerable. In the Netherlands the societal cost of one life lost is on average 3 million euros and the cost of an injured person who has to be admitted to hospital is on average a little over 200,000 euro, according to an expert in a TV program. In that light this investment is not at all expensive. Fortunately, the system has also proven to work well. The bridge is no longer slippery and can be used safely. Enjoy the photos and the videos of these two rides in the snow in Utrecht.
The first video with the ride from Wilhelminapark to Utrecht Central station.