Thursday, 6 October 2011

Nescio Bridge Amsterdam

The Amsterdam Nesciobrug (Nescio Bridge) features in the promotional video for the Dutch Cycling Embassy. The longest cycle bridge of the Netherlands* was completed in the summer of 2006 and has since been on my must-see list. The responses to the video and the beautiful weather we have had in the Netherlands at the beginning of Autumn were reason to finally go there and ride the bridge. Of course I took my camera with me so you can join in the fun.

Nescio Bridge Amsterdam (Netherlands)
The bridge, named after a Dutch writer, is of an overwhelming beauty. The blue sky, bright sunlight and the white construction helped a lot the day I visited. But the bridge is magnificently elegant by design. It is huge, spanning 163.5 meters (536.4Ft) over the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal which makes it the longest one cable suspension bridge in the Netherlands. It has a 10 meter (33Ft) clearance over the canal so large ships can easily pass it. The total length of the bridge is 779 meters (almost half a mile). The long approaches at either end provide a conveniently shallow gradient for cyclists.

The award-winning bridge was designed by British -London based- WilkinsonEyre architects. And it is -in their own words- "the result of a close collaboration between architects and engineers. The Nescio Bridge provides a vital connection for residents of IJburg, a suburb built on recently reclaimed land north of the city, with the ‘mainland’. Simultaneously, it provides access to the extensive green space of the Diemerpark for the people of Amsterdam." The engineers did a great job. Since the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal is a vital connection from the Amsterdam port to the German hinterland the canal could only be closed for 12 hours. It was in this timeframe that the main bridge part was placed. According to the architects the budget for this bridge was 6.5 million pounds in 2005. At the exchange rates of the time that would have been about 9.5 million euros or 11.4 million US dollar. For one cycle bridge to be paid by the city of Amsterdam.

The main bridge part was positioned in under 12 hours.
I made two videos. One to show the bridge and the cyclists using it in all its glory and one with rides over the bridge. The first ride is from North to South (from IJburg to Amsterdam) and then from South to North (Amsterdam to IJburg).

Video showing the bridge and the people cycling on it.

Rides over the bridge.

* The Netherlands has more 'long' bridges, so you can argue which one is "longest". The Nijmegen 'Snelbinder' bridge is a lot longer than this one. But it is attached to an existing railroad bridge and as such not a specific cycle bridge.

Why this isn't so important as you might think Exceptional infrastructure like this is always interesting to see and it makes for easy blogging. However it's not significant so far as getting people to ride bikes. What causes people to cycle in large numbers is the very tight network of everyday, but high quality, cycle routes.


  1. As I've always said, British engineers could design fantastic cycle infrastructure – if only UK politicians would ask for it (and provide the money of course).

    A pity we have to go to the Netherlands to see great British cycle engineering.

    Vole o'Speed

  2. Snap! This was the bridge on Sunday lunchtime:

    Having looked around Google Maps, it seems the next bridge up the canal is also a bicycle bridge -- this one:

    I wish I'd looked these things up earlier, I'd have taken a look at that one too...

  3. Well that was fast. Thank you.

  4. This is one beautiful bridge. One of it's brilliant design features is the way the stairs for pedestrians are made safe for cyclists that accidentally take the wrong exit. Instead of a lot of warning signs that probably will be missed anyways, the path makes a U-turn just before the stairs begin. Simple yet very effective!

  5. It would be interesting to know if or how much the local government is in debt, paying for all this on top of all the other "regular" stuff. Here in Toronto the city government is in a hole and looks for ways to "tighten the belt", yet (at least) I cannot see any special projects they spend their (actually our) money on. So how can Amsterdam afford to pay for all this? As an extension of this, I wonder how your country can pay for all the cycling infrastructure when in Canada, one of the G8 countries, this seems to be impossible. Yes, I know, Dave, you have already mentioned that per capita it doesn't cost that much extra, but it is extra money that the government has to come up with. The Dutch government can, and one of the richest countries in the world can't. I'm scratching my head...

  6. @Michael Blue - In the same way that buying a car and a bicycle costs less than buying just the car.

    There is more involved in spending money wisely than just counting what you've got and getting rid of it.

  7. Michael: It's been shown many times that building cycle infrastructure is cheaper than the alternative. i.e. that of not building cycle infrastructure. This applies even for the less crowded intercity cycle paths.

    All those countries which claim not to have enough money do of course still have enough for lots of other things. I wrote about this before in the context of the UK, but it's the same in many other countries.

    Oh, and I'm not sure how you define "rich", but please take a look here: Some countries operate at a profit and are in credit, some others are not and are accumulating a deficit.

    I was brought up to live within my means.

  8. We have some very similar bridges for bikes fairly close to here, but unfortunately they're often on cycle lanes about 300m longer than the bridge...

  9. I for one am very impressed with the cycling infrastructure I see posted here. I've not traveled much outside of the US but do live in a bike friendly region and it pales in comparison. Thanks for sharing


  10. 1.Gotta change those scooter laws. Are people concerned they will use cars instead? 2. Helmets! But by not using the helmet filter in his camera David saved over 23 tons of Co2! 3. There have been budget cuts in Amsterdam since 2008, so I suppose a good question to ask was that IF this bridge was destroyed somehow and then cleared as a shipping hazard, how long would it take to be replaced? Is there some law mandating it or would it be done simply because it makes sense and keeps people voting for you?

  11. I've only gone over this bridge once but it's bloody fun to do, especially on a recumbent and especially north-to-south (then you get the spiral on the decent). Luckily, even in Amsterdam (where there are very few rules about cycling), cyclists always stick to the right of a cycleway; so there's a very slim chance of hitting anyone at 35+ km/h on the tight spiral downwards.