The Fast Cycle Route from Apeldoorn to Deventer

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.

Billet en français

The F344 is running parallel to the N344 road, for quite some distance the one-way cycle paths are directly on either side of the N344.
The route of the F344 from Apeldoorn centre to Deventer centre is about 15 kilometres long and there are good signs to guide you all the way.

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.

In Apeldoorn, and directly outside of it, the F344 is designed as a cycle street and cycle road. Here the cycle route passes the motorway A50.
Some waste bins alongside the route can be used to throw stuff in without having to stop. These bins are more aimed at young people, but as you can see on this picture, the route is used by people of all ages.
About half of the route is on one-way cycle paths on either side of the N344 road. That is not exactly how most modern cycle routes are designed. Rather, this design has been used in the Netherlands since the 1930s.

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.

This is the east ring road of Apeldoorn (N345) and one of the major level crossings in the F344. The road will be lowered in a trench, so that the road can cross the railway in an underpass. After the road has been lowered the cycleway can then pass over it.
The street with the peculiar name “De Ontvangst” (the reception) was changed quite dramatically. It is strange that the cycleways stopped so abruptly in a newly designed street. That has now been changed. The travel lane on the right side of the trees was moved to the left side. (Picture Google Streetview)
In the new situation the cycleway continues straight on. Motor traffic now uses the part to the left of the trees.

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).

A part of the route (mainly in the municipality of Voorst) uses smaller country roads without any specific cycling infrastructure. That is a bit unusual for a main cycling route. There seem to be plans to turn this into a cycle street/road in the future. The street lights were added when this was determined to be a main cycle route.
This is not part of the F344, but this road in Apeldoorn is clearly in a transition. In the distance the former design with advisory lanes that are so wide that you could mistake them for on-street cycle lanes. In this case, however, they are used as parking lanes. In the foreground the new design. Brick (to signal that this is a 30kph zone) and a narrower roadway without parking. No specific cycling infrastructure is needed in a 30kph zone.

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.

The priority at this roundaout was given to cycling when the roundabout became part of the F344. You can see that this emergency vehicle (with sirens and flashing lights on) uses the apron in the centre to cut some corners. People often wonder how Dutch road design allows for emergency vehicles to pass quickly, but that seems to work just fine.
This roundabout in Twello is rather tight. That is why there is no separated ring for cycling. This type of design is not preferred. The white barriers are now needed so drivers do not cut corners, but these barriers are dangerous for cycling.
The station of Deventer has an underground bicycle parking garage under the square in front of the building. You can chose the shorter route via the stairs with grooves or the longer route with an access ramp.
My video about the F344 from Apeldoorn to Deventer
And a video with the full ride.

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.

11 thoughts on “The Fast Cycle Route from Apeldoorn to Deventer

  1. I really enjoy your blog. We have visited the Netherlands several times and bicycled diring each visit. I am enjoying this video having watching it a couple of times during my indoor rides as it is 7 degrees below 0F this morning in Vermont, USA. Have you written any blogs about how you do your videos? I am interested in your technique and what kind of camera you use. Thank you!!!

  2. Another great blog and videos, Mark. Thank you.
    You set us a little challenge at the image of “the east ring road of Apeldoorn (N345)”. No sign of any level crossing, but of course it is visible on Gargle streetview, just a few metres to the left of your picture.
    Looking forward to your annual round-up, hoping for better things for all of us in 2022, and for your good health so you can keep on inspiring us poor Brits to campaign for better infrastructure here.
    ATB
    Paul W

  3. The criticism on the ‘fast cycle routes’ is that most of this (provincial) money has not been used to create new infrastructure, but used to do regular investments in bicycle infrastructure. Municipalities could then use their regular budget on completely different matters, like the recently decentralised tasks in mental health care and such.

    The provincial money was supposed to lure commuters out of their cars by offering a straight, fast, e-bike friendly, bicycle connection alongside the congested provincial road they are filling up with their cars.

    Another criticism on the ‘fast cycle routes’ is conceptual. The essence of bicycling is not to go as fast as possible, but to combine the good things in life. Enjoying your physical well-being, be in direct contact with your surroundings, get some moderate daily exercise, and so on. The ‘fast cycle route’ betrays a automobile mindset: go faster, faster, everybody get out of the way!

    More about the latter in the upcoming translation of the book by Thalia Verkade & Marco ten Brömmelstroet (yes, even I had to double check the spelling of his name). https://scribepublications.co.uk/books-authors/books/movement-9781911344971 and if you read Dutch go to https://decorrespondent.nl/hetrechtvandesnelste

    1. Yes, I agree on most of this. But if the cycling infrastructure improves it is not all bad. I think you can read between the lines what I think of this one. Putting up street lights on a rural road does not equal building a (fast) cycling route…

    1. This was filmed on 28 October, just over a month ago. The trees kept their leaves for a very long time this year. There are even now still trees with leaves. Quite unusual!

  4. Oh, I nearly forgot, I will be interested to hear/read about this red asphalt, of a new extra smooth type.

  5. Thank you for this final regular post for the year.

    Mark, we, my wife and I wish you well in the next year.

    Keith

    1. Thanks! I fear the operation may be postponed by a year. Due to COVID and all the postponed operations. There are many people who need theirs more urgently than I do and they all go first.

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