A pleasant ride from Etten-Leur to Breda

The F58 will be a fast cycle route from Roosendaal to Tilburg in the province of Noord-Brabant, of about 45 kilometres long. Parts of the route are under construction, but one part has been finished for a very long time. That part was considered the first modern fast cycle route in the country. That part, from Etten-Leur to Breda, was finished in 2004 after construction had started in 2003. At the time it was an example for many fast cycle routes in the countryside. What it is like today?

Start of the section of the F58 in Etten-Leur is on a protected intersection.
Especially the part of the route in the municipality of Etten-Leur has become rather narrow when compared to other fast cycle routes that were constructed later.
There are almost no signs to indicate where the fast cycle route runs. Only at a few crossings there are these white cyclists which give away that this is a special route. There is no indication at all that the route is part of the F58 now.

I first published about this route over 12 years ago, in November 2009. I revisited the route two years later, in November 2011. At the time, the route was about 7 years old, and I was very happy to notice that the asphalt still looked like new. I am still pleased with the route, but the asphalt would need to be touched up here and there. Which is quite understandable for a route that is now almost 20 years old. What stood out more, this time, is that it seems a bit narrower than what we are used to today. Modern routes, such as the one from Cuijk to Nijmegen, have been built a lot wider. It was interesting that in 2005 this route was advertised as the first modern fast cycle route between a city and a town. People had aparently forgotten all about the fast cycle route from Tilburg to Oisterwijk that was constructed in the late 1970s.

The route is temporarily interrupted in Breda at the T-juncion between Leursebaan and the street with the exceptional name IABC. This is the site of a new turbo-roundabout with a bypassing cycling tunnel.
In the new situation the route will continue in a very intuitive way. You can simply cycle straight-on from left to right on this map.
In the before situation there were two T-junctions for cycling. Coming from Etten-Leur (left) you had to go right first and then sharp left to cross the road. You did have priority crossing that road but drivers could only see that you turned left in the last instance.

I was pleased to notice that there is one major update coming to the route. There was one intersection that did not feel safe enough. This intersection, on an industrial area, did give priority to cycling, but you had to trust that the many truck drivers and car drivers there knew that too. A giant T-junction for motor traffic is being converted into a turbo-roundabout with two lanes. Such a turbo-roundabout cannot be combined with level crossings for cycling and I am glad that the municipality of Breda chose to build an underpass for cycling. The roundabout will be constructed on a raised platform of about 1 metre to 1.5 metres (different sources mention one or the other) so that the tunnel for cycling does not have to go too deep. The access to the tunnel will be in an open trench, so that social safety is enhanced, because people will be cycling in clear sight. The reconstruction will continue until about July 2022. For the moment, I had to cycle a detour, which cost about 2 minutes extra. Thanks to the future underpass the route will become more logical. Two T-junctions will no longer exist and that will make the route finding more intuitive.

This is the municipal border between Etten-Leur (foreground) and Breda in the background. The section in Breda is considerably wider.
The only signalised crossing in the route between Etten-Leur and Breda. That there is a warning to carefully cross, also with a green light, is not a good sign.

It is a pity that the tunnel is not going to replace the only signalised crossing in the route. That crossing of a busy north-south connecting road in the west of Breda even has a sign which warns people to cross the road with care, also on a green light. It is not a good sign when people are warned like that. This must mean that things don’t always go well at this crossing!

Near the A16 motorway and the high-speed railway to Paris this observation tower was part of the original cycle route even though it only opened in 2009. Works of art are always part of larger infrastructural works in the Netherlands. This is art that you could also use.
I believe this is the end of the F58 part of the route in Breda. Obviously that doesn’t mean the good cycling infrastructure ends.

I started filming a lot earlier this time, in a residential area of Etten-Leur. That part of the route is not part of the F58, but it shows a nice cycle route in a new town type of neighbourhood of which there are so many in the Netherlands. The route has an old-fashioned surface of red tiles, but it connects residential areas to schools, playgrounds, and a supermarket. There is even a cycling tunnel to bypass a busier road.

The video starts here in Etten-Leur in the street called Appelvink. This part of the route is a bit more old-fashioned with regards to the surface, but other than that it is a functional cycling route for the people here, safely connecting their homes with meaningful destinations.
The one larger road that has to be crossed in Etten-Leur can be bypassed in this simple but effective cycling tunnel, that has a separate part for walking too.
Left, the entrance to a supermarket with bicycle parking right in front of the door. The homes look out onto the cycle path with their front windows. That helps social safety. People like the feeling that the cycle way is supervised by ordinary people.

I also stopped later with filming this time. That means you get to see how you can cycle all the way to the historic city centre of Breda. I end at the port of Breda that has water again. Whenever I publish something about the road-turned-into-canal in Utrecht, almost always someone will mention that Breda did the same thing. Indeed, Breda had a city port that was filled-in in 1964, to create space for a road and the Netherlands’ first underground car parking garage. In 2005, the city started to bring back the water. It went much faster than in Utrecht, because the festive reopening of the port of Breda took place in the Summer of 2007. The port looks like its former self again and valuable city space has been given back to people.

I continued all the way to the historic city centre via this cycle street. Breda uses a different style of signage to mark the cycle street than most other cities do. It is really time that lawmakers decide about a standard sign for cycle streets in the Netherlands.
End of the video at the port of Breda and looking out onto the tower of an important landmark of Breda. The Grote Kerk or Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (Church of Our Lady).
The port of Breda was filled-in in 1964 and became a road with the entrance to a parking garage. This picture is from 2005 when the road was still open to traffic. Picture: BN De Stem, Johan van Gurp/ collection Stadsarchief Breda.
Since the Summer of 2007, the water has returned and the port is again a port.
Part of the map of main cycle routes in the province of Noord-Brabant. I encircled the part of the F58 that I rode and filmed for this post.
Ride from Etten-Leur to Breda. Mostly on the F58 fast cycle route.

2 thoughts on “A pleasant ride from Etten-Leur to Breda

  1. (For anybody whose curiosity was also piqued by the strange road name: IABC is an abbreviation for International Agro Business Centre!)

  2. Thankyou for a valuable post, including the idea that the route aims to be intuitive to follow with very few signs. It would be interesting to know the design speed for bicyclists, the width of various sections, if there are always separate paths for pedestrians, and how a “protected” cyclist intersection is defined (pavement marking? kerbs?).

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