Thursday, 17 November 2016

Cycling between cities in the Netherlands - Part Nine: 's-Hertogenbosch to Nijmegen

I'd clocked up many miles (or kilometres, if you like) on the bike so far on this trip. Not just riding between cities as detailed on here but cycling within those cities as well, trying to cram in as much cycle track tourism as I could whilst I had the chance. I took a well earned rest for a few hours after arriving in 's-Hertogenbosch before Mark Wagenbuur kindly rode out to meet me after finishing work. For the next two and a half hours we rode all over the city, cycling through new developments after arriving via a cycling viaduct. We talked about many things on the relaxing ride back into the city side by side, the cycling infrastructure of this great city allowing us to do. As we discussed a demonstration that had taken place that very day in London against a bus stop bypass outside a hospital two children of primary school age overtook us, just as we bypassed a bus stop. In the centre of the city we enjoyed cycling on many motor traffic free routes before we had dinner whilst watching young friends and families getting about by bike on a warm summers evening. At one point on our tour Mark had pointed out some markings on a cycle track; this was the about-to-open F59 fast cycle route to Oss. I had already planned my route using the Fietserbond routeplanner and, knowing I would be passing close by Oss suspected that this was the route I would take. A quick look at my phone showed that my route ran alongside the A59 for much of it's length to Oss and so that reassured me that I would be travelling on the new fast cycle route just before it was opening - how great be able to blog about it! However it soon became clear to me after leaving the city that I was not using the F59 and had been directed to a route further south instead. A real shame as I've watched the videos at the end of this post and this would have been an incredible route to take. Therefore if you are ever in 's-Hertogenbosch and are planning to cycle to Oss or Nijmegen then do not use the route detailed below and stick to this route instead! Hopefully the following post will illustrate that whilst the Dutch are building some great fast routes for people to be able to quickly cycle between towns and cities other routes nearby are still mostly pleasurable to cycle on.

Before leaving the city I took a slight detour to take some pictures of a playground and cycle path, built on top of what was a four lane road, that I'd seen the previous evening

I heading east out of the city on a cycle track that was half a kilometre away from the F59, before it turned into a service road for residents but with smooth red asphalt, making clear it was a through route for cyclists. The road became a cycle track again as it passed under the A59 motorway, with its colourful noise barriers, before curving round alongside the road to climb over the Maxima canal on a bridge. There was a sharp descent on the other side, although the cycle track curved round making it not as steep as it could have been. The cycle tracks soon turned into an access road for local residents with painted cycle lanes. 



The houses along here were huge and with some expensive cars in driveways and gardeners working away in front of several of them it was clear this was a wealthy area. Thinking I was on the F59 I began to think of CS11 and the ridiculous protests from wealthy Hampstead residents over such a minor scheme - what would they think of all the filtering of roads that takes place here! The road soon became a cycle track, although I couldn't help notice the barrier blocking vehicles from using it had been removed. It occasionally became an access road for local residents again, but only for a small handful of properties, before it would again turn into a cycle track. The cycle track continued alongside the A59 



before becoming an access road (again with the barrier missing) with painted cycle lanes and then once again becoming a cycle track (with barriers in place but the gaps between them wide enough to get a car through). I was overtaken by a pensioner on an electric assist bike along here before I was once again on an access road (this time finally with barriers and gaps between the barriers that were narrow so no cars could get through). 



I bypassed a couple of roundabouts and at the second roundabout a couple of drivers were parked up and exchanging details after a minor bump. Clearly this was nothing too serious but it reminded me of how glad I was not to be sharing space with them. The cycle track continued on, set back some distance from the road including at junctions, allowing space for motorists to wait as they give way to people cycling. A short while later I came to a roundabout and the mapping on my phone was telling me to continue straight ahead, however the sign at this roundabout was directing me to turn right to cycle to Nijmegen. I had realised by now of course that I was not on the F59 fast route. I began to wonder why the sign would point that way, perhaps, like the F59 there was a better route further south from here? I decided to throw caution to the wind and follow the sign rather than my map, just to see where it took me. I passed under the A59 to travel along a road the other side of the motorway. Initially this route wasn't too bad; I was on painted cycle lanes rather than the cycle track I had been using but they were fairly wide. However they soon narrowed, uncomfortably so and I came to my senses and decided I would return to my original route as soon as I possibly could. Returning north along a bi-directional tiled cycle track I heard voices behind me as I passed under the F59 motorway again and was then overtaken by three young men, all chatting away as they cycled side by side; this cycle track was easily wide enough to accommodate four of us, with room to spare. A reminder of how cycle tracks like this make cycling much more sociable than riding on the road. It is nice to hear people talking to each other whilst they ride at a slow pace, even if I can't understand a word they are saying. 



I was now on the outskirts of Oss and so near to here is where I would have ended up had I taken the F59 fast route, so not a bad alternative overallI turned right across the road and onto a rough track which then turned into an even rougher track, not great to cycle on but I'm sure it would have been much worse had it been raining. At the end of this track I turned left onto a road, an old looking and worn out bi-directional cycle track soon appeared and then shortly later disappeared again, leaving me to rejoin the road. I'm sure this section will be upgraded at some point in the future. I turned off onto a narrow country lane, which was filtered just before I passed over the N329 on a narrow bridge. From the top of the bridge my heart sank as a saw a very rough track ahead of me filled with muddy puddles but thankfully as I got closer I saw a smooth path right alongside. This path continued where the muddy track ended and carried on as a nice smooth path winding through woodland. At a large lake I stopped at some benches to eat a sandwich and followed the first Prime Ministers Question time since the EU referendum vote on my phone, briefly depressing me at the state of politics back home. Groups of cyclists went by as I sat there, mainly elderly couples on electric assist bikes, it being the middle of the day. Just as I made my way off again a large group of elderly ladies arrived, all of them out together on bikes. 



I continued on via a rough gravel path occasionally passing large groups of bicycles parked up, thinking how this would be large areas of car parking back home. The path soon turned into an access road which ended just as the woodland did, so I turned right onto a cycle track alongside a road and then onto a road with painted cycle lanes. 



This road led through several large dairy farms with gigantic sheds full of cows being milked before turning to the right, but I was able to carry straight ahead on a cycle path through fields and crossing over some side roads. I carried on along some residential roads in the suburbs of the city of Ravenstein, before passing under the A50 and then alongside it, on a service road where the signs made clear it could only be used by bicycles and tractors. The motorway and service road soon made their way over a wide River Mass on a bridge, it was very noisy here as lorries passed me by at high speed and I was thinking what a shame it was they did not have noise barriers here. Just then a noise barrier appeared towards the end of the bridge and it felt instantly as though I had inserted ear plugs. I'd become a big fan of these noise barriers on this trip and as someone who lives within hearing distance of the A12 in Hackney it is a real shame TFL hasn't installed any on it. I turned off the service road and made my way along some quiet roads through the village of Niftrik and then a path through fields 



and alongside a railway line, which has since featured in the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain's "Good cycling facility of the week". I was now on a cycle track leading to the centre of the town of Wijchen, a track which bent away from the road by a considerable distance to cross the side roads and providing good visibility for drivers to give way to cyclists. It being early afternoon I saw a few children cycling, either with their parents or on their own. By the main railway station I was surprised to see that both level crossings were filtered and so could only be used by people cycling or walking, not by cars. I made my way to the main high street, which was closed to motor vehicles, and sat down for a coffee and Apple pie, watching people cycling by, some of them very young. It seems the shops all managed to be coping just fine without motor traffic directly outside with deliveries unhindered. I made my way out of Wijchen on this road which was wide with painted cycle lanes once the motor traffic returned. The road then became much wider, with the cycle track set back a considerable distance from the road.


The road itself remained single carriageway though with most of the space taken up by trees and grass. I then reached the N234 and cycled along the service track alongside, which was not a through route for motor traffic and was very wide, wide enough for people to ride four abreast with room to spare.


The service road continued as I passed the sign for Nijmegen, becoming a tiled cycle track which took me over the road and alongside a shopping area. This was a pretty bleak area and reminded me of somewhere like Brent Cross. Howver with a network of cycle tracks and bicycle only roads children could still get around by bike amongst these multi lane roads.


The cycle track continued between the N326 and the shopping centre, taking me onto a bridge over the Maas-Waal canal and then continuing between the road and the railway line into Nijmegen.

Distance: Approx 45km /  30 miles
Time: Approx  four and a half hours
Photos taken:480
Map of the route
Gallery:  78 photos here

An an analysis of this trip by Jitensha Oni:



Previous Posts:

Part One - Hook of Holland to Rotterdam / Photo gallery of this journey
Part Two - Rotterdam to Gouda via Delft / Photo gallery of this journey
Part Three - Gouda to Utrecht / Photo gallery of this journey
Part Four - Utrecht to Amsterdam / Photo Gallery of this journey
Part Five - Amsterdam to Hook of Holland via The Hague / Photo gallery of this journey
Part Six - Hook of Holland to Breda / Photo gallery of this journey
Part Seven - Breda to Eindhoven via Tilburg / Photo gallery of this journey
Part Eight: Eindhoven to 's-Hertogenbosch / Photo gallery of this journey

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