The Green Corridor; turning an old road into a recreational zone

For centuries there was only one safe route to cross the moor and heath between Oirschot and Eindhoven. Nowadays there are other main routes for motor traffic especially. In recent years the old and most direct road has slowly been turned into a so-called Green Corridor; a very pleasant route to walk and cycle between these two places in the Province of Brabant in the South of the Netherlands. The project is not entirely finished yet, but I went there to test it out.

billet en français

The green corridor. The connection between Oirshot (left) and Eindhoven as it could be in the future. A very nice green cycle route that can also be used for recreation (Picture Website De Groene Corridor)
Part of the route in the municipality of Oirschot (Eindhovensedijk) has not been changed at all. This cycleway could do with an update of the surface and width.

After initial ideas emerged in 2004, a nature conservation society, the heirs to the Philips Family and the city of Eindhoven joined forces to reconstruct the old 14 kilometre long route between Eindhoven and Oirschot. In 2013, that town and municipality joined the team. This meant that the route could and would be developed in a totally different way. Before, it had been the main road. A straight-forward road for motor traffic with separate cycle paths on the shortest route between the market of Oirschot and the city centre of Eindhoven. The vision for the future was different. The road was to become a connection through nature, with respect for the location and mainly for people who decide to use the route on foot and by bicycle. The area could then also be used for recreation. Most of the redevelopment started on the Eindhoven side of the route and when things began to take shape some residents of Oirschot started to become alarmed. Once Eindhoven literally closed most of the route to private motor traffic on their territory it annoyed and worried these Oirschot residents. Protest groups formed. They were objecting against Oirschot planning the same on their part. Some people did not want to be forced to use the motorway route. Because – they said – that route is “longer and has more traffic lights”. They organised an inquiry stating: “when you need to go to hospital in Eindhoven you will have to wait in the traffic jams on the A58 motorway” and: “we haven’t seen a single good reason to close this road”.

oirschotsedijk2009
Google Streetview (history) shows Oirschotsedijk also as it was. A through road with a narrow separate two-way cycle track next to it.
cyclestreet oirschotsedijk
Since September 2013 Oirschotsedijk has been closed and it has become a cycle street. When you look at the trees you can recognise that it is exactly the same spot as in the previous picture.

While Eindhoven continues to change the route bit by bit it has since been decided that the road will stay open to motor traffic on the Oirschot side. On the Eindhoven side some new connections will be made to make it possible to reach all existing and new destinations including Eindhoven Airport and a new industrial zone in this area. The project to upgrade the accessibility of north-west Eindhoven includes completely new roads and a number of bridges. The recently opened huge cycle bridge to cross the A2 motorway in this area is also part of this project. If you look at it in a negative way you could argue this may have been the hidden agenda of Eindhoven behind the “Green Corridor”, but all the new infrastructure does make it possible to close the old road and redevelop the area around that shortest connection as a green zone, also for recreation.

The crossing of the green corridor with Anthony Fokkerweg is at grade with traffic lights. Some sources indicate that a grade-separated crossing may be planned here, but I didn’t find enough information to confirm this.
In Oirschot some of the cycling infrastructure is so old-fashioned and incomplete that people misunderstand it. This road has a one-way cycle lane on this side of the street and no cycling infrastructure for the other direction. These people are cycling here because it is so unusual to cycle on the road in the Netherlands that they thought they had to continue on the cycleway. That put them in a dangerous position on the wrong side of the road. Such infrastructure must really be updated.
The traffic sign, warning of crossing cyclists, is of a type that was replaced in 1990. This infrastructure has not been updated since that time. It is very unusual in the Netherlands that roads remain the same for so long. This old underpass is a bottleneck in the Green Corridor. According to the plans It should become a “feature as a gate”, a clear separation between Oirschot and the countryside.

Eindhoven closed the part called Oirschotsedijk between Anthony Fokkerweg and Zwaanstraat to practically all motor traffic in September 2013. When I portrayed Eindhoven as nominee for best cycling city in a post in 2014, the old road had already been transformed into a genuine cycle street with red asphalt. Thousands of new oaks had been planted alongside of the route, together with one million (!) tulips and daffodils. This must look very pretty this time of the year (see my last post). But I filmed my ride too early for the bulb flowers to bloom. (I filmed this on the same day as my post about the reconstruction of the Eindhoven city centre, 24 March 2021.)

A temporary detour was constructed to be able to pass the building site for the new bridge over the Beatrixkanaal and the new road.
This used to be a T-junction. A road from the south connected to the green corridor running east-west. The road parallel to the canal will get a new part north of the green corridor, but the T-junction will not become a cross roads. In the future that road will no longer have a connection to that east-west road it will only pass under it. The new cycle bridge over the canal will be long enough to also span across that new road.
This is what the new road parallel to the canal (on the right hand side of the picture out of sight) and the new cycle crossing over it will look like.

The connecting Zwaanstraat, all the way south to the underpass of Beukenlaan was then also mostly closed to motor traffic and completely reconstructed. That part of the route reopened as a main cycle route in March 2018. Some of the industrial elements in this area (this had been the site of some Philips factory buildings) were saved. This street connects to another former industrial zone of Philips, Strijp S. That industrial heritage area has been redeveloped in the last 20 years as a hub for culture, creative companies and young urban living.

Zwaanstraat on Google Streetview in 2009. A main road with separated one-way cycle tracks on either side.
Zwaanstraat on Google Streetview now. A single car lane for both directions and for residents only. Besides that a bi-directional main cycle route. The piece of industrial heritage remained at exactly the same spot. The trees on either side of the white van in the previous picture can be seen on either side of the cyclist on the red cycleway here.
In the main street of the Strijp-S area the cycleway is in a shared space zone with pedestrians. It worked the day I filmed but I wonder how it will be after Corona with more people cycling and walking at the same time.

Things do happen in Oirschot too. A direct connection between the Green Corridor and the actual centre of Oirschot was established in 2020, when a beautiful wooden bridge for walking and cycling was opened. This closed the missing link over the Wilhelmina Canal. I showed the new bridge on my blog at the time. Eindhoven is currently constructing a new bridge over the Beatrixkanaal. This bridge for walking and cycling replaces the old bridge that was also for motor traffic. The new bridge includes a crossing over a partly new road to the airport.

This bridge for walking and cycling in Oirschot was opened in 2020. See my blog post.
While the cycleways are generally perfectly wide and smooth in Eindhoven I really do not like these pinch points. They must be there to keep motor traffic out of the cycle ways, but the low walls on either side seem dangerous in the dark and when you cycle in groups.
This short part in Eindhoven has not yet got its final design. There are still building activities here.

The development of the Green Corridor between Eindhoven and Oirschot continues even if the Twitter account and the website have fallen a bit silent. Links to the reports with the visions for their part of the Green Corridor in Eindhoven and Oirschot can be found on the website of the latter. Although the project is not completely finished and parts of the cycling infrastructure in Oirschot really need an update, you can already cycle really well between the two places. You can experience that for yourself through my video.

Eindhoven Centraal Station is the end-point of this route. Eindhoven is one of the few larger stations that still has oudtside cycle parking. Even though that may impress foreign observers, it is seen as inadequate in the Netherlands and it will be replaced.
My ride from Oirschot to Eindoven in real-time. 14.2 km in 43 minutes or 19.8km/h on average on a single speed rental bicycle.
The ride in the sped-up version

A map of the 14.2km long ride from Oirschot to Eindhoven-Centraal

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