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