For this week’s post I travelled to a part of the Netherlands that I don’t frequently visit (for no particular reason). The cities of Apeldoorn and Deventer, in the provinces of Gelderland and Overijssel respectively, were connected by a fast cycle route in 2017 and 2018. The route mainly follows the road N344 and it is therefore called F344. The official opening took place in July 2018. It is a bit different from other fast cycle routes, there are even parts without any cycling infrastructure. Considering that the route was opened more than 3 years ago, the amount of road reconstruction I saw going on today was a bit surprising as well.
The F344 in Apeldoorn was opened a few months before the rest of the route in November 2017. I knew much of the route would be on existing cycling infrastructure, but I hadn’t really expected so much of it on a rural road without any cycling infrastructure. About half of the route is on the actual N344 road, on one-way cycle paths on either side of the road. That is how main roads had been designed in the Netherlands from the 1930s on. So not really what you would expect for a new fast cycle route. If you compare the F344 to the F261 from Tilburg to Waalwijk, which I showed you earlier this year, or the route from Cuijk to Nijmegen, the MaasWaalPad, which was opened last year, it is very different.
The route runs through two provinces and three municipalities, Apeldoorn, Voorst (with the villages Teuge and Twello) and Deventer. In the municipality of Voorst a lot of reconstruction works were ongoing. The N344 itself was under reconstruction and many of the crossings of the cycle route with side streets. It will become much clearer that the cycle way has priority over these side streets, thanks to new continuous red asphalt for instance. The level crossing with the biggest road in Apeldoorn, the N345, called Laan van Osseveld, was also under reconstruction. That road will be lowered so that it can pass under the railway line. After the road is lowered, the cycle route (parallel to the railway) can then go over it. This project is part of a scheme to reduce the number of level railway crossings, especially in bigger roads. It is partly financed from a special fund, the national program to improve railway crossings (Landelijk Verbeterprogramma Overwegen, LVO) the rest is financed by the province and the municipality.
So what was then done before 2018, with regards to this route? Mainly taking care of missing links, so that the existing infrastructure was better connected. In Apeldoorn, a street in a fairly new residential area did not have any cycling infrastructure. The roadway was relocated in that street. The former road space was reallocated as cycling space. There is now a beautiful bi-directional cycle way with smooth red asphalt. Apeldoorn also constructed its first cycle street. That street, the Veenhuizerweg, also got red asphalt, of a new extra smooth type. The reduced resistance should make cycling even easier. Outside of the built-up areas of the three municipalities, in the rural countryside, the existing roads got lighting or better lighting and the entire route got good signage. Some of the signage was also not finished, but I have the feeling that the current signs are a replacement of earlier experimental signage. This route was selected as one of the three trial routes (with the route between Tilburg and Waalwijk and the route from Utrecht to Amersfoort).
The F344 route does not run all the way to the stations at either end, but I did cycle from station to station. That means that in Apeldoorn I saw a few streets which did not have any cycling infrastructure. That was a bit unusual, but the streets were never dangerous. I rode the 16.2km in under 45 minutes, so the route is indeed fast, even though the speeds do not have to be high. The fact that you can ride almost non-stop is what makes these routes fast.
This is the final regular post of 2021. Next week I will publish the recapitulation of this year and then the week after the video for the holidays, after which I will take a break until the new year. I am not sure how I can continue this blog in 2022 yet, but more on that later.