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