Monday 5 April 2010

Knooppuntennetwerk - signage for recreational use

The Knooppuntennetwerk is a network of numbered points on recreational cycle routes which is spreading across the Netherlands. It was the idea of a Belgian mine engineer called Hugo Bollen. After the coal mines closed in the area one after another he took on the task of designing a recreational cycle route system in his province of Limburg. The first network was created there in 1995.

Since then, it has spread within Flanders and been adopted by many Dutch provinces, starting mainly in the south.

These networks don't necessarily give the shortest routes between two points, nor the smoothest cycle paths. Their intention is to provide a pleasant countryside route for touristic purposes. They have been a huge success. Brabant spent between half and one million euros on putting up the signs (the cycle paths already existed) and has claimed a benefit of 13 million euros per year from cycle tourism as a result.

The video, made by Mark Wagenbuur, shows how the new signage and network is used.

Of course any signage, however good, doesn't tell you where to ride to or why you want to ride there. We use the network to some extent on our cycling holiday routes, but the knooppuntennetwerk in Drenthe is not yet complete, and they've not started in Groningen. In any case, not all the routes or destinations that we like to include on our routes will ever be on this network. As a result, while it is a very good system we can't rely solely on it in order to plan routes. However, if you come along to Assen on holiday you'll make use of all the types of signs shown in the video. There are a few examples on the blog of what our holidays are like.


Nick said...

They are a great idea. Cycling by numbers has been one of my (and my wife's)greatest recreational pleasures over the past couple of years - in Brabant and throughout mid and south NL. In the coming year, the north, so tell them to get on with completing it!

Anonymous said...

I'm currently in NL on a short holiday. Yesterday we cycled approx 30km around the Veluwe area following this type of network..we came a cropper however when the cycle path ran out - due to reconstruction works...eventually got ourselves back on track and sheltered from the rain in a Pannenkoekenhuis ;) Having a great time here (as always) :o)

MiddleAgeCyclist said...

Jealous, jealous, jealous!

Compare this to this kind of signage on the "National (cycle) Route 6" in the UK. Beware - you will have to look very, very carefully. I really despair of my home country sometimes.

I heading over to Amsterdam tomorrow to collect my new touring bike, so am looking forward to trying out some quality Dutch cycling infrastructure.

Anonymous said...

Those signs are very easy to follow and very helpful to first time visitors who struggle with more complex signs. I am greatful to the inventor and those who put it into practice. In a way it is similar to the milestones that were once used in the UK which is ironic as now most cycle routes in the UK lack good location information, for example Milton Keynes has an extensive cycle network but it can be very difficult to navigate for lack of landmarks.
These routes allow riders to make up a route from various sections which is an advantage over the very linear LF routes. Travelling from point to point makes for a fun ride, a bit like a paper chase.
Mark Garrett, Bristol UK