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?
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.
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).
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.
De Hoge Veluwe National Park was one of the main attractions I wanted to see on this trip because it would have been so cool to ride a bike through a national park! I have been to a few national parks and have always experienced them behind four wheels. And I am not keen to hiking and hiking, as you know, doesn’t cover a lot of ground.
I think a bicycle as a vehicle to traverse any national park is probably the most eco-friendly and efficient mode to do it on. It’s quiet, it doesn’t pollute, covers a good distance with the right amount of speed, and it takes up a little space in a park. I am surprised that parks don’t already have this kind of facilities. Of course, it would only work with flat topography and some stretches of many parks do. Or maybe have electric-assisted bikes for the not so flat topography.
There are three separate entrances (same as exits) to the Park; Schaarsbergen from the south, Otterlo from the west, and Hoenderloo from the east. The entrance fee to the Park is 8.70 euros for adults (4.35 euros for children) and it’s well worth it. All entrances have white bicycles (it’s the same color as the bike shares plan from the Provo movement during the 1960s) with a child seat to rent out for free. The Park is meant to be discovered by two wheels. Pretty awesome, huh?!
Another thing I like about the Park is that you really can’t get lost. When I am in a national park that is so huge, I worry about losing my tracks but not with De Hoge Veluwe. As I mentioned earlier, there are only 3 entrances/exits and a very limited number of bike paths. Stay on the bike paths, and you can rest assured it will lead you back to where you came from. There are signage that are clear but discrete.
As I have been bike-touring between cities, I have seen amazing landscapes and very green scenery, but it’s very different riding through a national park. Many cycle tracks are breathtaking, however, they are not long lasting. De Hoge Veluwe is different. It’s massive with uninterrupted miles of bike paths surrounded by natural beauty and fresh scents. It’s really quiet and the only noise you hear is the sound of your bike chain. To me, it’s actually kind of loud when you are in such a serene place.
I was hoping to spot some wild animals, but I may have gone during the wrong time.
A bonus to the Park is the museums. I only get to go to one which is the Kroller-Muller Museum. It’s a museum of abstract arts, impressionism and contemporary sculptures. The admission here is the same price as the Park’s admission. Besides Van Gogh’s paintings, I really enjoyed eating in the cafe where you have a beautiful view of the nature.
If you are ever in The Netherlands, I highly recommend going to De Hoge Deluwe National Park and ride your heart out. It’s an experience like none other.