Thursday 4th of June is the date of the European elections. The local paper included the article shown which details what connection Assen has with the elections. The sign on the right, giving an example of something with European support locally, is at the end of a brand new cycle path in the countryside near us that I've been taking photos of lately.
Even though it's not complete, we rode along the path last week. It's concrete surfaced and a bit over two metres wide. This seemed a bit narrower than usual for a cycle path around here, but I put it down to this being a recreational path, not a main route.
Further along, the reason for the many blocks at the side of the path became clear. The path is actually considerably wider once these are added. In fact, it means there is a bit over a 3 metre ridable width. The outer bits feel a bit rough compared with the bowling green like surface of the main path. They allow for drainage and as they are a little rough they also wake you up if you happen to move from the centre of the path. They also, if nothing else, mean you can use the full width of the concrete part without any danger of falling if you happen to hit the edge.
A couple of weeks earlier I rode along it with Peter. You can see the thickness of the concrete part of the path relative to the 20" wheels on his bike.
This is not all, of course. There is also a thick and very hard foundation. The top layer of this foundation seems to be exactly the same stuff as is often used for cycle paths in the UK without any concrete on top (e.g. like this one that someone got a photo of me riding along when I lived in Cambridge. I used to think that was pretty good).
This last photo shows the way this cycle path is joining to a road. Note that the cycle path surface is the same thickness as the road surface. That's the way to build them if you want them to last ! The path continues towards Assen on the other side of the same road.
The new cycle path stretches for a bit over 2 km, and looks like it will be just as promised last year. It links the new Arboretum to the city and in the opposite direction it goes to outlying villages. Very pleasant.
One more detail. We saw how the path was laid. The concrete is continuously laid, and then slots are cut in it, part of the way through - presumably to deal with expansion. This is why what appeared initially to me on other similar paths to be separate slabs can have such perfectly smooth joins between them. There is no roughness at all as you cycle over the "join".
Anyway, on to the politics bit. On one of our Study Tours last year there was an interesting discussion when a local expert explained that there are "no anti-cycling political parties in the Netherlands". Some are, of course, more keen than others on cycling, but it would be a brave politician who took an anti-cycling stance in a country where 93% of the population cycle at least once a week. It's not the same everywhere in Europe, just take a look at one of these candidate's responses from Cambridge (especially the response to the last question) !
If you're a European voter and a cyclist, look closely at the policies of your candidates before voting tomorrow.
Update: Somehow I hadn't quite noticed that the 2020 blog covered the politicians response several days ago.
Further update: Mark sent me a video showing a new cycle tunnel being built in 's-Hertogenbosch. Last Saturday was the national open day at building sites, so he got a tour. Note the width of the tunnel and the thickness of concrete used. This is serious infrastructure:
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