When I rode home to ʼs-Hertogenbosch from work in Utrecht unexpectedly – quite some time ago – I found that a provincial road in the province of Gelderland had been upgraded with a separate bi-directional cycleway. I did not film it at the time, because it was very dark, but I wanted to show this new cycleway on my blog ever since. I now finally managed to film it. I started my ride in a hamlet called “Mark” and cycled from there to Zaltbommel.
Mark is a tiny place of just one street by the same name. For some obscure reason part of the hamlet belonged to Meteren and another part to Neerijnen. That is why the same house numbers were used twice: in the same street, but in the two different municipalities. Unfortunately, Meteren and Neerijnen both became part of the same new municipality called West Betuwe. (This name was criticised, because most of its territory isn’t actually in the region called Betuwe and because Dutch spelling rules were not applied correctly by omitting the hyphen). To be able to tell the duplicate house numbers apart in the new single municipality a specification had to be added to the street name. There is now a Metersemark and a Neerijnense Mark. (One with and one without a space for no apparent reason but to make it even more complicated.) This messy situation shows that the Dutch aren’t always good in organising things either! For obvious reasons I liked plain “Mark” much better.
The provincial road N830 had on-street cycle lanes (or better: advisory lanes) until 2017. I did not know the road had been upgraded when I cycled from work in Utrecht to my home in ʼs-Hertogenbosch in January 2018, when the trains had stopped running due to an earlier storm. I dreaded to ride that part of the route in the dark. In my post I wrote:
I knew the infrastructure would be good with just a few exceptions, but it surprised me to see that one of those bad stretches had been completely upgraded. The road from Geldermalsen to Waardenburg used to only have cycle lanes. On-street cycle lanes on an 80 km/h road is totally unacceptable under the sustainable safety policies and this has now been taken care of. The brand new bi-directional cycleway next to the new narrowed roadway had only been opened last September , by local school children.
A ditch besides the road had been filled-in. That meant the space could be used to build a bi-directional cycleway. A new ditch was dug besides the new cycleway. In this wet country they are needed to control the water levels, so it could not just be removed. The cost for the reconstruction of this part of the road was 2.5 million euros according to the road building company. Though I doubt that sum includes the cost for the land that had to be acquired. The reconstruction took place from January 2017 and the official opening was in September 2017. An exceptional archaeological find was the discovery of the remains of approximately 24 humans near the roundabout at Waardenburg. The skeletons proved to date back to the time of Charlemagne. Which means they had been in the ground for roughly 1,200 years.
The one thing I noticed though, that night I cycled here first, was how dark it was. The locals had noticed that too of course. After the cycleway opened, with which they were very happy, they tried to persuade the province to provide that lighting. A petition was signed 600 times, which seems like a lot in such a rural area, but to no avail. A spokesperson for the province told the press that by building that protected cycleway, away from moving traffic, enough was done to improve the safety for cycling and lighting would not be necessary. There still is no lighting, so the political party in the municipality which supported the petition didn’t get its way with the province either.
In Waardenburg the cycleway reverts to a mono-directional cycleway on either side of the 50km/h street. Not very wide, but it does the job. From Waardenburg to Zaltbommel the route is parallel to the motorway A2. The part on the bridge over the river Waal is shared with agricultural vehicles. It is a good thing that the road is wide enough, because those vehicles are particularly wide. From the bottom of the bridge you can take a turn and that route simply enters the historic streets of Zaltbommel, which are all in a 30km/h zone. In such zones separated cycling infrastructure is not necessary. The streets have been properly designed as a 30k/h zone, with raised tables on intersections and a brick surface. I ended the ride at the ‘big church’ in Zaltbommel, a 15th century gothic church dedicated to Saint Martin.
The ride looks a bit dreary. With a drizzle for most of the day, I thought it would be good to show you that people also ride when the weather is not at its best. As it turned out, the atmosphere was more than appropriate for how I felt during this ride. I was called with some rather bad news just before I started to film. My annual health check had revealed that a congenital heart defect has deteriorated considerably. I will most likely need open heart surgery soon to replace a leaking valve. The prospects are fine, and I don’t really want to burden anyone with my personal health status, but this will inevitably have an impact on this blog. The operation and the following rehabilitation are tentatively planned for this fall. This will mean that my blogging and video making will be interrupted for a while. I have already stopped all other activities such as guided tours and presentations, but I have more than enough footage filmed to be able to continue blogging for some time. I will inform you when I know when the forced hiatus will start.
To end this post on a lighter note, I would like to publish here too that my YouTube channel hit 50,000 subscribers last Monday! Thank you all for subscribing and I do hope to make a lot more videos in the future.