Wednesday, 7 October 2009

The bicycle cathedral


In the west of the Netherlands the A12 motorway is being rebuilt. Part of the rebuild will require a cycle tunnel under the motorway.

The Fietskathedraal is being built to ensure a pleasant route for cyclists. It's to be an underpass which is 53 metres long, 16 metres wide and 6.5 metres high - roomy and as a result with a good degree of social safety.


One of the unusual things being done to make the tunnel as attractive as possible to cyclists is an unusual method of lighting. Blue LED lighting will be used to make the tunnel the tunnel look even more roomy.



The Fietskathedraal is to be one of the largest corrugated steel constructions in Europe. The cycle route is to be open by around the end of this year followed by the road in October next year.

This is far from the cheapest option, but who said that maintaining and growing the world's highest cycling rate was cheap ?

Details of the fietskathedraal came from here and here

Why this isn't so important as you might think Exceptional infrastructure like this is always interesting to see, but what causes people to cycle in large numbers is the very tight network of everyday, but high quality, cycle routes.

8 comments:

Anth said...

It's enough to make someone still living in the UK weep!

Tim Beadle said...

Any idea on cost? I'd like to place it in context of Bristol's £23m...

Rob said...

And what do we get? A white painted bicycle on the foot path...

David Hembrow said...

Tim: I've no idea of the cost of this particular tunnel. However, it almost certainly doesn't come out of cycle path funding as it's to do with a motorway.

23 million pounds isn't all that much given how the UK spends money. It works out as about 20 Euros (18 pounds) per person per year, but it's only available for three years, and it's seemingly not finding its way into new cycle paths. Assen, where we live, spends about 27 euros per year, every year on new cycling infrastructure. What is also notable is the list of things that come from other budgets: school cycle training, maintenance, new cycle paths around developments, bike hire schemes, for instance are all funded elsewhere leaving the cycling budget to provide new infrastructure.

Mark said...

@Tim, I also tried to find out who pays for this and what it costs. But it is not at all clear and as David says it is part of a major reconstruction of a freeway entrance/connection and there is also a railway involved. Since this is a state freeway I think ultimately the Ministry for Roads (Rijkswaterstaat) pays for it. They get most their money from road taxes. This is a tunnel to cross the roads, so that seems fitting. But we can only guess what the amount of money involved is.

Frits B said...

What I don't really understand is the purpose of this tunnel. It is not a tunnel per se as it simply covers the open part of the underpass between two tunnels under motorways - as far as I can see from the photos. Corrugated iron is not the best material for a tunnel under a heavy mass of earth like a motorway. It would seem that this is just a nice gesture towards the users of the bike highway, paid for out of the money set aside for "art" on public projects. The rule of thumb is 1 percent of the building cost if I remember correctly; that would be quite a bit on a project this size. For David: have a look at the two granite benches at the crossing of Stationsstraat and Oostersingel; these were paid for out of the art fund when the Drents Archief got its extension in 1980.

Mark said...

Wouldn't it be great if cycling infrastructure was included in the planning process from the outset? I've just mentioned something like this in my blog. There used to be a planning scheme in the UK called "Percent for Art" whereby large commercial developments had to include a certain percentage of their total build spend on art - sculpture, murals, community art projects, that kind of thing. Imagine if by law all new roads, offices, shopping centres etc had to give over a percent for bikes by planning law? Fabulous facilities like this would be everywhere and the cycling infrastructure would build itself!

Mark said...

@Frits B.
If you follow the second link David provided, you will read:
‘De Fietskathedraal’ onder de toekomstige nieuwe afrit maakt onderdeel uit van een lange fietspassage onder het spoor, de afrit en de A12.
Which you will understand, but for the non Dutch speakers translates as this:
“The 'Bicycle Cathedral' under the future new motorway exit is part of a long bicycle passage under the railway tracks, the motorway exit and the A12 motorway.”
So it is definitely not just an art feature and the exterior will be totally covered.