The future fast cycle route (F2) from Eindhoven to ʼs-Hertogenbosch

The province of Brabant is building a network of convenient long distance cycle routes. On the map of planned routes we also find one from Eindhoven (the largest city of the province) to ʼs-Hertogenbosch (the capital of the province). In this post I will show you what that route of the future fast cycle route (F2) looks like in the before situation.

billet en français

Some of the possible route currently has on-street cycle lanes. That is not up to standards for a main fast cycle route, even when they are wider than the width of a car.
The main route from Eindhoven to ʼs-Hertogenbosch would be this straight road. This road does start near the station, but the main cycle route will follow a different route apparently. Possibly because of the noise and fumes of all those cars. The name of this road is appropriate: Boschdijk. Which means: dike [leading to ‘s-Hertogen]bosch. Outside of the city this straight road has been converted to a motorway from 1986 to 1993.

It makes sense to connect the largest city and the capital of the province; Eindhoven and ʼs-Hertogenbosch, respectively. The beginning and end of the proposed route are 30.2km apart as the crow flies. The proposed route is 34km long, which means it is a rather direct route. Yet, at the beginning and end of the route there is a deliberate detour. This seems to be to connect more residential areas to the route, but even with those detours it is only 3.8km longer than the shortest distance possible. So can’t you cycle between these cities now? Yes, you can. All cities and towns in the Netherlands can be reached by bicycle more or less safely and conveniently. This plan is there to make it an even more convenient and safer route.

Jitensha Oni was kind enough to investigate the route and turn it into one of his well-known graphs. Far left in dots how many other people I met who were also cycling. Only in the rural parts of the route there were some gaps, but most of the time there were always other people cycling. I go into the other findings in the text of this post.

I asked Jitensha Oni if he would like to study the route and my video in advance and he kindly offered to do that. His findings are in a map of the route and as always it contains interesting details that I myself could have missed even. What stands out most is the wide variety of types of infrastructure that the route has at the moment. Some of it is really not up to modern Dutch standards. Most of the sub-optimal types of infrastructure are to be found in the areas at the beginning and end that form the deliberate detour. These are streets that do need an update. At the Eindhoven end quite a bit of the route is via on-street cycle lanes. Those really cannot stay if this is to be a genuine fast cycle route. However, the actual route in Eindhoven is not entirely clear apparently. Different news items and sites report a slightly different route. I chose one that I thought was most logical. At the north end (in the town of Vught) the route deviates quite considerably from the shortest possible route. Most likely to connect the station of Vught to this route, possibly to upgrade some of this town’s cycling infrastructure and also partly to simply be able to get to the backside of ʼs-Hertogenbosch Station. There is a much more direct route to the front side of the station that has much better cycle infrastructure already.

Right at the beginning of the route there are several alternatives. I took the green route which runs mostly on a bicycle street which is considered a bad example. The red dotted-line would use the main car route and that has separate cycle paths already, but also more traffic lights.
In the north of Eindhoven (Acht) there are also a number of ways the route could run. I took the green line that passes more homes, but which now has on-street cycle lanes. That was the route described in the latest news articles. The red dotted line has separate cycling infrastructure already on the busier car routes.
The red dotted line crosses a main road here in Best in a way that is not possible in reality. I doubt the future F2 will be exactly where the red dotted line was drawn. That would require three underpasses (or one long overpass). More likely it will be left of the roundabout. That way only one new underpass would be necessary. The green line is the route I took: that is the only way you can cross the main road now.
The route through Vught was only indicated and can naturally not be where it was drawn (straight through buildings). I took the streets that do allow you to go from east to west now.

I would choose that most direct route if I had to cycle between the cities today. That has the better type of infrastructure, albeit right next to a lot of motor traffic. The noise does make the ride less comfortable. The new routes will certainly be more attractive because they will be away from most of the motor traffic. The bulk of the route will still be right next to the A2 motorway. There simply is no other route that is so direct. The parts that are shielded with a sound barrier are not too bad though.

This is a cycle street outside of the built-up area parallel to a major road. I was surprised to see the 30km/h speed-limit. Outside of the built-up area that would normally be 60km/h, but naturally this is better. That the sign is so big is maybe an indication of how well (or not) people adhere to this speed-limit at this location. Only 5% of the total route is on Cycle Street (Fietsstraat) according to the chart of Jitensha Oni.
This underpass in Best is too narrow for all traffic. Normally I would ride on the red part to the right of the red bollard. But since I arrived here at the same time as that mother with her baby carriage I decided to go through the middle. That way she could use the cycle lane at the same time. This was clear to her because when she looked at me I nodded. The place on the road is not so strict in the Netherlands. For situations like these it is perfectly acceptable to use a part of the road that is strictly speaking not designed for you.

Another thing that stands out in the findings of Jitensha Oni (that I would not have spotted myself) is how differently the different municipalities designed their intersections. In Eindhoven and neighbouring Best we find a lot of signalised intersections. I did notice that I had to wait quite a few times and also much longer than what I am used to in ʼs-Hertogenbosch. When you then arrive at the municipality of Boxtel there are many roundabouts. The first one is just outside the built-up area, which means there is no priority for cycling. The following 4 roundabouts are inside the built-up area and on those roundabouts people cycling get the right of way. This is exactly how priority on roundabouts is advised in the Netherlands. I should have realised that Boxtel likes roundabouts, there is even a silly cycling roundabout in this town that I have shown you before. On most intersections in Vught you then have to give way again. In both Boxtel and Vught there is only one signalised intersection in the possible F2 route. In the final municipality of ’s-Hertogenbosch the route does not have a single traffic light. The only major crossing there is grade-separated.

The minor rural road from Best to Boxtel is closed to motor traffic except for residents or people who have a business at any of the homes (such as delivery vehicles). Because of this restriction I only saw three cars on this entire stretch of the route. At this location the A2 motorway runs behind the sound barrier and you cannot hear anything thanks to that wall.
The road from Best to Boxtel runs parallel to the A2 motorway. At locations without sound barriers that was quite noisy. When this road is going to be a main cycle route the design should be altered a bit to show that. Almost a quarter of the entire route is on rural local access roads like these.
This was the worst part of the entire route. A short stretch of road without any cycling provisions and a speed of (I think and fear) 80km/h. Totally unacceptable, even now that this is not a main cycle route! It was a shocking and unexpected experience to find myself on this road all of a sudden. Fortunately, it was only a few hundred metres. Less than 1% of the total route according to Jitenscha Oni’s investigation.

So what is the current state of affairs for this route?

In 2018, the five municipalities signed a “letter of intent” in which they jointly declare they plan to investigate the route. The plans had been in development in collaboration with the province of Brabant since 2014. In 2019, the local press reported that there was little progress in the plans and that “it will take quite a while” before this route will be built. Although all five municipalities use the same engineering firm not all of them made the same progress at that time, the report says. The route has to be determined first, before an estimation can be made of the cost and a new agreement to build the route can be signed. From then on it got a bit silent. No new news items were published at all. The website of the Cyclists’ Union published a map with estimated years in which some routes may be finished, but for this particular route no year was mentioned. There is also a website published by the province and on that site the route isn’t mentioned at all. You can only find it on the map that shows the routes as they should exist in 2030. Finally, the route is mentioned on a site that was published by the municipality of ʼs-Hertogenbosch, but that site doesn’t have any additional information either. I did send a mail, asking if there was anything more to report, but the response was that there is unfortunately nothing more to say about it. The project is still in the phase of investigation.

At the beginning and end of the municipality of Boxtel there are on-street cycle lanes on a road where cars drive at speed (60km/h). This is unacceptable when this becomes a fast cycle route.
Fortunately, Boxtel also has much better cycleways closer to its core. Sometimes for one direction and sometimes they are bi-directional.
The road from Boxtel to Vught has many of these strange cycle bypasses for speed bumps. Some people did not use them but took the speed bumps instead. This man was riding a speed-pedelec (that can go up to 45km/h). Those tight corners are not very convenient at a higher speed. I expect these bypasses to disappear when this will become a main cycle route.

There is one huge and clear factor that will delay this particular project. The railway through Vught is now at grade and that railway will be buried in a trench in most of the town. That railway project is vast. The main road from Vught to Tilburg now crosses the railway in an underpass. After the railway is buried that crossing must be on an overpass and moreover that particular road will also become a proper motorway. This is a gigantic infrastructure project that will take until 2029 at least before it is finished. Since the route of this fast cycle connection is projected parallel to the railway, it can simply not be built before 2029! I would hope the route from Vught to Eindhoven will be reconstructed before that year. From Vught to ’s-Hertogenbosch people could use the existing route to the front of the station for the time being. But it isn’t clear to me if that is indeed the plan. People really want this route to be upgraded. At least one man would love to use this fast route from Sint Michielsgestel to get to work in Eindhoven. On a site from the local branch of the Cyclists’ Union he writes: “I am now 49-years-old… I don’t want to wait too long”.

A level crossing of the railway in Vught. This will be replaced when the railway is reconstructed.
The cycleway will be in an underpass at this location.
A birds view of the railway in Vught during the reconstruction works that will take years. There is no way the future cycle route could be where it is projected, because that is inside this building strip. Picture: ProRail

Alas, without any news about the reconstruction we will have to use the route as it is today. And you can see in the video what that is like. I personally think the existing route is not too bad at all. It really surprised me how fast I rode all the way from Eindhoven to my home in ʼs-Hertogenbosch. I had expected to take more than 2 hours, but I rode the 34 kilometres in 1 hour and 45 minutes. That is an average speed of 19.5km/h, which I think is not at all bad for a 55-year-old on a normal city bicycle. If that is too long for you I also have a sped-up version of about 10 minutes. That way you can at least get an impression of the route. Enjoy the ride!

The final approach to ‘s-Hertogenbosch.

Map of the route (in green the existing (more direct) routes that most people would take today)

The real-time version of the ride.
The sped-up version of the ride.

This ride was filmed on Wednesday 24 February 2021. It was exceptionally warm that day; 19.6C (67F). There is another fast cycle route called F2. That is the route from ʼs-Hertogenbosch to Zaltbommel. I showed that route earlier. It is also called F2 because that route is parallel to the A2 motorway as well. The A2 runs all the way from Amsterdam to Maastricht.

5 thoughts on “The future fast cycle route (F2) from Eindhoven to ʼs-Hertogenbosch

  1. The route alongside the railway from Best to Eindhoven has been considered as one of the alternatives, but it was dropped before the first agreement was signed in 2018. I agree about the 500 metre long missing link that needs to be built. I expect that to be done as part of this upgrade. A sound barrier between the motorway and this route would make a lot of difference. Finding an alternative route to one that is almost as short as the shortest line between beginning and end on the map is simply impossible. I would find a sound barrier a better option.

    1. For the middle part I agree that adding a sound barrier is a good thing not only for this cycle route but also for nature and makes the route a good choice.

      It is a pity the route from Best along the railway to Eindhoven has already dropped, that would be a much more attractive route while not being longer and likely faster because of less traffic lights. In this respect I think attractiveness is completely forgotten.

      In that sense the route in Vught and to ʼs-Hertogenbosch is much more attractive and while the comfort is less then asfalt cycle paths along busy roads, it is my clear preference.

  2. I do not like the green the existing (more direct) route nor the Mark took, the reason being is that the route is way too much, too close, to busy roads with fast moving traffic.

    Unfortunately this is a “logical” route in a sense that the Fiestersbond routeplanner and other bicycle route planner I tried are taking (currently) this route.

    Money can be spent to make this route more cycle friendly but I would opt to first focus on:
    1) Getting a separated cycleway along the worst part of the entire route (500 meter)
    2) Make a good route from Best to Eindhoven Centrum, following the railway seems possible.
    3) create a good route from Boxtel to ʼs-Hertogenbosch probably via Esch.

    The goal should be to make cycling more attractive to Best and Eindhoven and between Boxtel and ʼs-Hertogenbosch.

    The route between Boxtel and Best is nice to have but I do think it has no good potential in getting more people commuting by bike and with the 500 meter fixed, it is reasonable okay.

  3. The province of Brabant was a province in Belgium from 1830 to 1995. The Dutch province you are talking about is officially called North Brabant (and unofficially Brabant, but this may be rather confusing for a lot of people)

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