How some students can ride home in Utrecht

In this week’s ‘ride video’ I will show how some of the students studying at Utrecht University can cycle home from the campus to one of the bigger student housing areas of the city. Strangely enough student housing was not included when the University Campus was planned in Utrecht. There is some housing now after the zoning regulations were changed and that is also being expanded, but originally most student housing was located at quite some distance from the University. The housing complex I cycle to in this video is in the north of the city (while the campus is in the east) a distance of 5 km. The cycle route was upgraded in 2018 and I wrote about it then. In this post I cycle the route again, but in the opposite direction. Let’s see what struck me this time, 3 years later. I will write about that in the photo captions. The things that stand out for me may differ from what other people find interesting. Brandon Lust (American Fietser) saw this video beforehand and accidentally tweeted about it before it was published. He was very amused by the state of one student’s bicycle.

Billet en français

Start of the ride at the rainbow cycle path. The tram line was not yet operational the last time I filmed here. The light-rail connection to the University Campus was opened in December 2019. I filmed on the opening day.
This ride was filmed on 11 June 2021. There were still signs reminding people of the Corona distancing rules. I added the street names for the entire route, for those of my viewers who like to follow the exact route
This was an unexpected encounter. Every now and then you do see vehicles on the cycleways for maintenance or other reasons. That is not even that bad with the dimensions this cycle route has. It was very easy to pass this white van.
There were two sets of detection loops ahead of this signal. That is why it could turn green just before I reached it. Some of the lights appear to be red by default for all road users. They can then turn green quickly for the first person to arrive. The system does not work as well as in my hometown of ‘s-Hertogenbosch, but much better than in other Dutch cities.
Whenever the lights are red you do know that it is for a reason. In this case this driver had triggered the lights to change.
Utrecht has many completely separate bus roads. In this case the car lanes are to the left of the bus only road.
From this location further to the north-west the cycle route was updated in 2018. It is of course not only used by students, it draws all sorts of people.
The cycle street runs past a school at this location. In this zone there is an advisory speed of 15km/h. There is no separate school zone sign under Dutch law. So a combination of two signs was used, combined with the words zone and school, which incidentally are both identical in Dutch and English in written form. The pronunciation of both does differ considerably!
The route gives people a very relaxed feeling apparently. This guy cycles with his arms folded. That is prohibited. You need to hold your handlebars with at least one hand at all times in the Netherlands. Update: I wasn’t the only one who was taught this at school, but apparently this is no longer in the law. It was probably changed in the 1990 version of the road law.
This is a missing link in the reconstructed route of about 80 metres. That is why there are suddenly red tiles. In 2017, the executive council member explained why this is in a letter to the council. On the left hand side all buildings will be replaced in 2023. The street reconstruction was postponed until after that project so it can be done as one integral update.
At this location the crossing still shows some of the old blocks and lines of the former crossing on the black asphalt part. A bit clumsy and also quite unexpected that this has still not been corrected even after three years. It may have been forgotten.
Another rider who cycles in a very relaxed way. Again: no hands on the handlebars is not allowed. (update: it is no longer forbidden not to hold your handlebars apparently, see also earlier remark) Brandon Lust was triggered by something else, he saw a clothing faux pass.
The early 1970s student housing complex consists of three 18 floor tall brutalist buildings. I end the ride here.
In 2017 the council announced the reconstruction of this route. It is conveniently bypassing the busy city centre. More on that project in the previous post.
This week’s ride. From the University Campus to a main student housing complex in Utrecht.

4 thoughts on “How some students can ride home in Utrecht

  1. “This guy cycles with his arms folded. That is prohibited. You need to hold your handlebars with at least one hand at all times in the Netherlands.”

    That’s simple not true. There’s no law at all about how you should control your bike, only that you should be able to control it and cannot cause any danger or obstruct other users. In traffic, you might get a warning (and if you do get a fine, it will surely be shelved if you protest), on an empty bike path, it’s perfectly fine.

    Rule of thumb: riding without holding your handlebars is comparable to inline skating. If you would feel comfortable skating on a path, don’t bother holding your bars if that makes you happy.

    1. I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who was taught this at school, (see Tweet) but apparently this has since been changed. In 1990 there was a major update of the law. Many details like these were scrapped. Earlier we already found out that I had also missed that the obligation to walk on the left hand side outside the built-up area was scrapped.
      I updated that line.

  2. This looks to a very nice route; if I were a student at the university there, and needed to cycle this route to go to classes, and then back home, I would be very happy to do so. As for the person riding with his arms folded, maybe he was caught unprepared for cool weather, and is trying to keep warm; or, he is debating someone via a phone conversation (using a headset, of course), and he has instinctively taken a defensive posture; or, he has a love letter from his partner, and is holding on to it tightly, so that he does not lose it (these are all intended to be humorous suggestions).

    I would like to make a serious statement, and say that it is very sad news that there have been so many injuries and deaths as a result of the flooding there in western Europe. I really hope that the worst of the effects have already occurred, and that everyone in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany will now be safe. I also, hope that you all can begin to recover from all of the damage and loss, and not face any more such weather events this year. Many of us in other countries are thinking positive thoughts for your well-being. Take care.

    1. I cycle without hands because it’s relaxing, like holding your elbow out of a car window while driving. If anyone wants to pass me I grab onto the bike again so people feel secure passing me and it’s safer all together. If you’re on your phone while riding a bike it can cost you €100,- in fines, never done that, although I know a lot of people who do that on a regular basis

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