Category: Scheveningen – Netherlands

Dutch cycle tracks to die for…Part 2

Some traffic lights for bikes sense you are coming and turns green automatically.

Some traffic lights for bikes sense you are coming and turn green automatically.

In the Part 1 of the post, I mentioned about how “beautifully landscaped” cycle tracks are within Dutch city limits. Now, I want to dedicate Part 2 of this post to illustrate how continuous (although, this is very difficult to capture with photos) and wide they can be.

When I was in Den Bosch about a week and half ago, I was fortunate to have Andre Engels and Mark at BicycleDutch to show me around. I remembered Mark telling me that when we were on this route, he said that we didn’t have to stop for 5 km (3 miles). How is that possible, right?

Elevated cycle track leaving Nijmegen train station.

Elevated cycle track leaving Nijmegen train station.

Many cycle tracks cut through the high traffic streets via tunnels like this one.

Many cycle tracks cut through high traffic streets via tunnels like this one.

To provide safety from high volume traffic on surface streets, many cycle tracks become continuous via elevated and tunneled cycle tracks (see second and third photos from top). A great example of elevated cycle track to avoid intermixing with cars is the Eindhoven Hovenring. This is what makes riding on Dutch cycle tracks to die for. You can go a really long distance without ever have to stop. I haven’t even brought up about bike paths that go through residential areas and parks, and they are even more continuous.

This is a 3 way round about with one direction for cars, at the beach in Scheveningen.

This is a 3 way roundabout at a beach in Scheveningen.

The famous roundabout in Zwolle.

The famous roundabout in Zwolle. Note driver is yielding to cyclist.

Secondly, roundabouts at intersections are one of the smartest urban street designs. It’s efficient and I think it makes drivers drive better. What’s even smarter is the protected roundabouts for cyclists. I am not going into safety for now, but this is how you get cyclists riding continuously without losing momentum. Most roundabouts at low auto traffic volume usually are of this type which cars by law are supposed to yield to you while you keep riding through (the above photo is a specific type of roundabout for cyclists which is the first of its kind, described here).

This Arnhem's cycle track is as wide as BRT road.  You can have 4 riding abreast.

This Arnhem’s cycle track is as wide as the road for Bus Rapid Transit. You can have 4 riding abreast!

Cycle track in city center of Apeldoorn.

Really wide cycle track in city center of Apeldoorn. Note car parking is to the left of the cycle track.

Another wide cycle track inside the city center of Groningen.

Another wide cycle track inside the city center of Groningen.

Finally, in the previous post, I did briefly mentioned that many Dutch cycle tracks are wide to accommodate conversational cycling but didn’t exactly emphasize the wideness. Immediately outside city centers, cycle tracks become ridiculously wide and I love it! Some cycle tracks inside city centers are relatively wide too, as can be seen in the above photos. The wideness makes passing another cyclist easily. I never have trouble passing other cyclists and most of the time, I don’t have to ring my bell. The wideness also makes it easy to have all kinds of cargo bikes on them.

In addition, it can hold more cyclists particularly during peak hours. At every single light that turns green for bicycles, the last cyclist in the peloton always have time to cross. I know this because I am always the last one.

Some commenter said to me, “why the need to go see touristy attractions when you got cycle tracks?” This is so true. I am always amazed just being on them.

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Dutch cycle tracks to die for… Part 1

Lego's own cycle track

Lego’s own cycle track

So far, I have visited as many as 7 cities in The Netherlands and as I biked through these charming towns, I notice the cycle tracks are beautifully landscaped. They are so attractive that they are almost eye candy to me. To be fair, I am not talking about bike paths that are in parks or tuck away somewhere that you have to look on a map to find it. I am talking about cycle tracks that everyday people on bikes use and riding adjacent to streets within city limits.

Note many cycle tracks are bidirectional, and many times are on both sides of the street. Moreover, many are really wide to accommodate conversational cycling. The ones that are installed in recent times are made of special red asphalt that is really smooth that any weekend road warrior would appreciate. And no flats to worry about!

Special colored asphalt that will make your slow bike seems fast

Special colored asphalt that is so smooth that will make your slow bike seems fast.

By the way, did you know that the word “landscape” originates from the Dutch? I am sure because they have to work their land to manage floods since the beginning of time that they have become experts in landscaping and among other things. This expertise can be seen in their bike infrastructure.

On a cycle track just outside of Leiden

On a cycle track between The Hague and Delft

A cycle track in the Hague

A cycle track in the Hague

A cycle track on the beach of Scheveningen

A cycle track on the beach of Scheveningen

Another beautifully landscaped cycle track in Den Bosch

Another beautifully landscaped cycle track in Den Bosch

Cycle track leading up to Hovenring in Eindhoven

Cycle track leading up to Hovenring in Eindhoven

Green cycle track in Eindhoven

Green cycle track in Eindhoven

As I am half way through my bike travel, I have more cities to discover and will post more eye candy photos of cycle tracks. So stay tuned.

Kids and Bikes in City Centers

This child on a push bike is really confident that he was about 30 m away from his mother, and he's not going to get run over by cars.

This child on a push bike is really confident that he was about 30 m away from his mother, and he’s not going to get run over by cars.

As a lot of us did when we were kids decades ago, we all biked and that experience became one of our fondest memories. As kids, my best friend and I would ride our bikes everywhere. We biked to our school on the weekends to play marbles, to buy sweets from the corner store, and rode just about everywhere in our neighborhood. This was all very safe to do because cars were few and drivers were considerate of people on the streets.

The signs show that cars are restricted to enter the city center at certain time of the day.

The signs to the right show that cars are restricted to enter the city center at all times of the day, except residents.

Now, we have pretty much lost that and children roaming streets on bikes are non-existent. But in these Dutch cities that I have visited so far, I felt these kids are empowered and independent. I see them having their own bikes decorated to their personal likings. I see them leading in front of their parents. I see them riding with their friends to school together. After they are done, I see them locking up their bikes. I have never seen so many kids out and about. These are scenes that I remembered growing up with.

This is in front of Saint John's Cathedral, famous atttraction in Den Bosch.

This is in front of Saint John’s Cathedral, a famous atttraction in Den Bosch.

What’s incredible about these Dutch cities, is that these all happen inside city centers. When you think of city centers, you think of traffic congestions and crowds. But when you close the city centers to automobiles or when majority of the population rides, this actually widens up the space and creates a safe place for all children alike. What these city centers offer to kids too, is that everything is there to foster their curiosity and to learn what’s out there in an adult world.

More kids inside the city centers...

More kids riding carefree inside the city center…

I am curious as to know whether Dutch children are most happy children due to biking and safer streets. Even without studies, I anticipate so.

Update:  Indeed, Dutch kids are the happiest children in the world in a UNICEF study done in 2013 (this was brought to my attention from Mark @ Bicycle Dutch).

These two kids are riding to play some kind of sports.  There's no such thing as soccer moms in these cities.

These two kids are riding to play some kind of sports. There’s no such thing as soccer moms in these cities.

This child here is leading the way.  And check out the little child on the front basket.  Happy as ever.

This child here is leading the way. And check out the little child on the front basket. Happy as ever!

This boy here is going inside the bike parking structure in the Leiden.

Here, this boy is going inside the bike parking structure in Leiden.

These bike racks can fit both adult's and kid's bike.  By having this, kids can have the same empowerment as adults, as it should be.

These bike racks can fit both adult’s and kid’s bikes which are ubiquitous. By having this, kids can have the same empowerment as adults, as it should be.