This junction is on the main cycling route north from Assen to Vries. Note how the concrete surface of the cycle path, which is smoother than the asphalt surface of the road, continues through the road rather than the other way around. Also note the prominent give way markings (triangles) so that motorists are in no doubt about who has priority at this junction.
The raised areas with red paving prevent motorists from cutting the corner. The corner radius on the road here has been made deliberately sharp in order to slow down motor vehicles entering or leaving this side road.
The path has been upgraded to "fietsroute+" standard, which was publicised last year on postcards from the local government:
This standard, as described by the text in the green dots on the postcard, requires that the route has:
- Clear signposts
- Easy and safe crossings
- Minimum of 2.5 m wide cycle path (on both sides of the road, as each side is unidirectional).
- Socially safe shelters en route
- A direct route from A to B
- Surface of concrete or asphalt with no or little roughness (but enough that you don't slip, of course).
"As well as the cycle path, the bus stops along the route are being improved. There is more room for parking bikes and later this year new shelters."
This stretch has been completed for some time, and work is now taking place on improving other routes to the same standard.
The effort put into these paths pays off in allowing cyclists to ride very quickly, take a direct route and to do this in great safety. The road which is paralleled by this route has an 80 km/h (50 mph) speed limit, but has relatively little traffic due to not being the signposted route for drivers and due to there also being a motorway which offers drivers the choice of 120 km/h.
|Older junction before it was upgraded in 2009|
Here's an example of a van driver giving way to the cycle path. In this photo you can see clearly how at this junction the cycle path remains on the same level while drivers who wish to cross it have to go over a bump caused by the different levels.
This photo taken over my shoulder at an older junction shows a driver giving way as he turns into a side road. You can see how the cycle path is apart from the road at the point of the give-way. This allows space for one car length between the road and the cycle-path.
Finally here's another photo of one of the newer junctions. It's not the same one as in the top photo, though it looks virtually identical.
These routes are extremely popular, both with commuting adults and with school children. A very fast friend who lives around the corner from me travels 30 km each way along this route to get to work in Groningen. At the same time, parents have few fears that their children will not be safe travelling on such a well engineered route.
I have more examples of how cycle facilities in this country help cyclists to make more direct, faster journeys.
Update: I've now two posts showing this stretch of cycle path in use. One shows it at a lower speed with school children commuting along it, and the other shows going along in a velomobile at 40 km/h. Facilities like this are for every cyclist. This type of route is sometimes considered to be a fietssnelweg or cycling superhighway
The route features on our Cycling Study Tours. However, if you're impatient, you can get a glimpse of what it looks like to ride along it by looking at a series of stills and films that I put online here.