The road was dug up to a considerable depth, all the way from the front gardens on one side of the street to the front gardens on the opposite side of the street. Then everything in between was replaced. A complete new road was built for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers.
While the road was dug up, the electricity, gas, telephone, sewage and other services were updated at the same time. This is the normal way of organising things in the Netherlands because it prevents wrecking the new surface in order to do maintenance.
We were surprised not only at the quality of this work, but also at the price. A budget document from the city shows that the cost of this work for a 0.4 km section (both sides of the road so 0.8 km of cycle path) was just €200K (see the item on the second page: "fietspaden langs Groningerstraat, tussen Thorbeckelaan en Kanaal, verbreding fietspaden naar ca 2,5 m, rood asfalteren, voorrang bij de kruispunten, € 200.000"). That compares very well with costings I've seen for cycle paths of a much lower quality in the UK.
And not only is the amount taken from the cycling budget for this piece of work low by UK standards, but the total budget for cycling in the city is extraordinarily large by UK standards.
The budget for the two years covered by that document is arranged under different headings. Each heading has its own budget. These come to a total of over € 5.7 M to be spent on cycling in Assen over the two years covered by the budget. That works out as a cycling budget of 43 euros per resident per year over these two years.
The combination of low cost and high budget is what makes it possible to get things done so quickly.
The junctions were also renewed, including a simultaneous green junction shown in another blog post, which cost just €32000 (the first item in the budget document)
Note that there are children in several of the shots. It's quite normal here for children to travel right to the centre of the city on their own bikes. This is perhaps the ultimate expression of parents feeling confident in the safety of the cycling environment.
Note also in this photo how on-road car parking was preserved for residents. It's important that residents concerns about car parking were also addressed when the new work was done. Not taking car of this can result in conflict between cyclists and residents, or cars being parked on the cycle path.
Also you'll see how it's possible for friends to ride beside one another, and how everything is possible while motor vehicles are kept at a distance.
The cycling rate in Assen is now 41% of all journeys. While it's not the highest rate in the Netherlands (Groningen has a higher cycling rate), that's still a higher rate than any city in other European countries. More journeys are made by bike here than are made by car. Infrastructure like this is has made this possible.
I've featured this road twice on this blog as a comparison with Gilbert Road in Cambridge, a road near where we used to live in the UK, which is much the same width and had much the same budget for cycle infrastructure, but which received far inferior reconstruction for about the same price.
It was also featured to show how secondary school children cycle along this street as part of their route to get to school from villages outside the city.
Also see a newer blog post which illustrates why "dooring" is not a problem on this road.
The explanatory captions on this video are only visible when you play it on a computer and not on a mobile device.
The "before" photos come from an official document of the local government of Assen, and the bike that I rode to make the video is a Sinner Mango velomobile.