A cycling viaduct that isn’t really convenient

About once or twice a year I rent a bicycle at the station of Venlo to cycle to the village of Grubbenvorst and back again to visit my family (in-law). That is not very often and things can really change in between two trips. Early 2018 there was an unpleasant surprise; the route I always took had become unusable. All of a sudden there was a new cycle viaduct that did not connect to the route I always took. I should have taken a different and longer route to be able to reach the beginning of the new cycling overpass. The road I always took was suddenly no longer open to cycling. I had to break the law and use the forbidden street anyway to get back on track. Now that I know which turn to take the detour isn’t really that much longer, but in my opinion this is an example of a cycling bridge that isn’t really convenient for cycling.

People cycling on the ramp of the cycling viaduct in Venlo that isn’t really convenient for cycling.
In 2016 you could still cycle the most convenient route from North to South by simply following Horsterweg. In 2017, a connection was made for motor traffic from Horsterweg to the parallel (but more diagonal) Venrayseweg by a new roundabout. This created a new entrance for motor traffic to the industrial area. When you want to cycle north to south and vice versa now you are forced to follow the diagonal road around the industrial area. This prolongs the route with about 36 seconds.

The cycling viaduct was opened on 31 October 2017. The builders sent out a proud tweet. The province of Limburg presented it as an improvement to road safety, especially for cycling. On Facebook they wrote:

“… the Horsterweg has been connected to the Venrayseweg and a safe grade-separated cycling connection (viaduct) was built. The Venrayseweg is again open to traffic.

Traffic safety was increased considerably with the construction of the roundabout and there is a better traffic flow to the industrial area ‘Venlo Trade Port’ and the industrial port of Venlo. This project was made possible with the help of the Province of Limburg. The representative of the province Mr Geurts said: “This connection attributes to a quick and safe cycling route between Venlo, an attractive place of business, and the areas of innovation, knowledge and work.”

That sounds like true marketing speak, but the key words here are not really “quick and safe cycling route”, I think the more important words were: “traffic flow”.

In the longer ride the detour may be small but it is still an awkward one. The red line was much more straightforward. It would have helped if the more direct green route would be possible. There are cycleways on that road, but I added a red line where a cycle crossing is missing. That missing crossing makes it impossible for people to choose the green route.

In the before situation the Horsterweg was a dead-end for motor traffic. Now it has been connected to the Venrayseweg to give the older industrial area a new (and better) entrance for motor traffic. Ironically that made Horsterweg a dead-end for cycling! The new cycle viaduct does make it possible to cross that new connection without potential conflicts with huge lorries. At the same time though it forces you to cycle along Venrayseweg and no longer along the Horsterweg. Even though the latter is the actual shortest route to Venlo proper. It would not have been so bad if Venlo would also have made a new crossing on the intersection Venrayseweg / Groot-Bollerweg, but they didn’t. You cannot cross Groot-Bollerweg to continue cycling on Venrayseweg. You are forced to use that road, but then it is not possible to cycle further south. You must cycle west on Groot-Bollerweg to get back to Horsterweg a bit further south to use it to get to Venlo after all. This is not a “quick and safe cycling route”, this is a detour. Granted, it is not a very long detour; my before-and-after video shows that it takes 36 seconds longer to cycle the new route, compared to the old one, but it is a longer route nonetheless!

This aerial picture shows the intersection with the missing crossing. It is not possible to cross the east-west route when you come from the north and want to cycle to the south even though there are cycleways on both sides of the intersection. Even after three years the municipality of Venlo did not create this missing crossing. At the time this picture was taken the north cycleway was under construction. It was only built when the viaduct was built. But apparently nobody thought about the missing crossing, or it was too expensive to create.

I was hoping that the new crossing was a matter of time, but it has been over three years now, since the new cycling viaduct was opened. I understand that it can be costly to change the traffic light installation for an additional cycle crossing but really, it looks like the municipality of Venlo has simply “forgotten” about it. After the infrastructure was improved for commercial traffic any further development stopped. So much for building a faster cycling route, in my opinion this viaduct is really only there to open up the industrial area for commercial traffic. To make that possible I now have to cycle a little over half a minute longer from Venlo to Grubbenvorst and back.

The plan for the new roundabout and the cycle viaduct to bypass one of the new arms (bottom here). In the previous situation the cycleway from the left continued on what is now the new bottom arm. Cycling is no longer permitted there. Picture Municipality of Venlo.

Google shows the viaduct under construction in 2017. It is clear that the old route was simply straight-on to the road on the right hand side. The new cycle viaduct forces people to follow the road on the left hand side.
The before situation in 2016, the cycleway continued straight-on via the industrial area to Venlo.
The after-situation in 2018. With the cycling viaduct you are forced to take a left turn and you are taken around the industrial area. It is the safer solution, considering the type of lorries that will use the industrial area, but it results in a detour nonetheless.
The cycling viaduct and the roundabout behind it. The round traffic sign over the yield sign explicitly forbids cycling on this road. If you did cycle to this point (because you always took this route) you are now stuck and you can’t continue. There is no way to reach the viaduct from this point or to legally continue left on the other side of it. (Google Streetview)
The before and after video comparing the route with the viaduct to the route without it.
A video showing the complete route from Venlo to Grubbenvorst, with the detour at the 8:24 minute mark and the viaduct at 9:25.

A map of the complete 7.5km long ride from Venlo to Grubbenvorst

6 thoughts on “A cycling viaduct that isn’t really convenient

  1. Een andere optie is dat je de groene linie volgd en bij het kruispunt Venrayseweg/Groot Bollerweg fiets je rechtdoor (ja, er is een klein stukje fietspad) en je komt op de Parlevinkerweg terecht. Je fiets tot de Jachthavenweg, daar links af slaan en naar 50m weer rechts af en je bent op de Grubbenvorsterweg. Doen veel fietsers en je hebt geen last van de helling van de viaduct!

  2. I was born in Venlo but have been living elsewhere now for 45 years. This part of Blerick has changed completely beyond recognition. And has changed over multiple times inbetween although there was some industry already more than fifty years ago. In the old days you could follow the Venrayseweg which connected to the Grubbenvorsterweg (at 11:45). The crossing with the A67 (at 13:30) was built on farmland (at the right) of my family. Their farm at the end of the Raaieind is still there according to Streetview, frozen in time.
    Your cycle route show a lot of parts in Blerick where cycling infrastucture is designed to get rid of them to accomodate large scale industrial infrastructure. So it has nothing to do with (a real) cycling policy you might argue. As alternative you could also take the Parlevinkerweg (but I know it only from Streetview).

  3. Follow the money. The industrial zone was accessible before, otherwise it would not exist. But now businesses can advertise how easy they can be reached. Or did the lorries cause a massacre by driving through a residential area? Was there an issue with road safety to overcome? The picture suggests the lorries just had to continue a bit further and make two right turns.

    What was the input of the local bicyclists’ union on this proposal? Was there any? This shows exactly why it is important to become member and have bicyclists study all proposed changes in detail closely and fight the stupid ones.

    This also happens to be in the part of the country where the bicyclists are the least organised, bicycling is slightly less popular and politicians tend to behave a bit more authoritarian than further north. You can read it in the proud announcement.

  4. Completely ignoring your main point. I noticed the vines / climbing plants planted against the viaduct abutments and believe its a really good idea. It looks much better and prevents graffiti. We have that on some things here but not others. Wish it was a more widespread practice.

    Shame about the detour, and hill you have to climb on this cycle route now.

    1. De slechte fietsinfrastructuur is deel van een groter probleem. De wijde omgeving van Venlo verandert in bedrijfsterrein met grote hallen (dozen) en verkeerswegen ertussen. Mensen raken verloren in een anonieme wereld van machines, hekken en muren. Het sympathieke oude Venlo heeft zijn onschuld verloren…

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