A colourful procession of people on city bicycles, tandems, e-bikes, cargo bikes, public transport bicycles and racing bikes opened a fast cycle route last July. Together they symbolised that the F261 fast cycle route from Tilburg to Waalwijk is there for all sorts of people on all sorts of bicycles who can use the route for all sorts of reasons.
The first part of the F261 was opened in 2019. I showed that in an earlier post. On 8 July 2021 the parade of cyclists celebrated the opening of the entire route. The parade had started in Waalwijk and the participants cycled the full 16 kilometers of the route via Loon op Zand to Tilburg.
The route has few obstacles and cycling has priority at intersections as much as possible. It is not the speed of cycling that makes this route ‘fast’, the fact that there are so few stopping points is what makes the average speed higher. Convenience and comfort are more important than actual speed. Everything combined makes a cycling journey very pleasant.
The full route cost 22 million euros and is part of a larger plan for fast cycle routes in the Province of Noord-Brabant. The province paid 13 million euros. The three municipalities in which this route is located shared the remaining 9 million euros considering their size and the length of the route in that municipality.
In Loon op Zand, about halfway, the parade halted for an official opening moment. Together with the project leader, representatives of the province and the three municipalities formed the name of this fast cycle route, F261.
On behalf of the province, Christophe van der Maat told the press that he was very proud of the good cooperation between the different authorities. “This plan took shape 3.5 years ago. We worked together to get to this point today where we can open the entire route. The F261 is the first of 9 routes that the province recently has made agreements for with the different municipalities. It is good to see that the fast cycle route network of the province is growing steadily.”
The province would like to see that larger organisations alongside the route will stimulate their employees to use the bicycle more often to get to work. Two such employers have programs to achieve that; the theme park Efteling, which employs about 2,400 people and the hospital Twee Steden Ziekenhuis, with locations both in Tilburg and Waalwijk, which offers jobs to over 5,000 people.
Alderman Ronald Bakker of Waalwijk cycled along in the parade. He mentioned that Waalwijk is very happy with the fast cycle route: “It makes it a bit easier again to take the bicycle to get to work and not the car. Our industrial zones cannot easily be reached by public transport, but we don’t want to see endless rows of parked cars there. As a municipality it is our task to make cycling more attractive and cycling is a lot healthier too.”
Experimental signage was developed for this route. Several types were tested from 2018, which I wrote about in an earlier post. When the first part was opened the preferred new signs were used. Unfortunately, the board that supervises all signage in the Netherlands rejected the new signs that most people, including me, preferred. Those signs can still be seen at several locations, but they will have to be replaced with signage that is approved.
I cycled the new route from Tilburg to Kaatsheuvel. I added this new video to the 10 minute part that was finished earlier, so the video in this post now shows the entire route from Tilburg to Waalwijk in real-time.
The first video is a report on the most recent parts of the route.