Monday 1 November 2010

The worst cycle path in Drenthe

Our local paper, the Dagblad van het Noorden recently listed the 12 worst cycle paths in the province of Drenthe (we live in Assen, the capital of Drenthe).

The winner was a recreational cycle path near where we live. While most cycle paths in the Netherlands are wide, smooth and a pleasure to ride on, this one is narrow, not properly surfaced and a bit bumpy. However, it's recreational ! No-one forces you to cycle along it.

Actually, I quite like it. I've ridden along there a few times, and it's a nice change from the normal "perfect" bike paths. It's very much a recreational path.

The winners of this prize, the Natuurmonumenten organisation, are somewhat displeased, as they see it as an old cart track which they made accessible, and which the ANWB then made a part of the local fietsknooppuntennetwork of recreational routes. This caused it to be used more often than it used to be due to signs and maps telling people to use it for recreational trips.

Anyway, here's a short film, which we made back in March when we rode along this path:

See more about normal standards for cycle paths.

Update 2012 - work to improve the surface has made a considerable difference

Thanks to Frits for sending the article - I missed this copy of the paper. The newspaper title reads "Old people fall here in bunches". No doubt a bit of an exaggeration, but it reflects the fact that in this area it's quite normal to come across bunches of old people out in the countryside enjoying riding their bikes. "The worst cycle path in Drenthe" is included on one of our cycling holiday routes :-)


Nick said...

I sympathise with the Naturrmonumenten people; it looks exactly like the kind of bike path I'd like to spend time riding on. Your local paper's maybe being a tad narrow minded in its judgment.

Jon Bendtsen said...

That path does not look like a good path for a trike/velomobile.

David Hembrow said...

Nick: So do I. Number six on the list is a cycle path running the length of Beilen which I've ridden on several times. Quite a nasty surface, and also a bit narrow. It's on a route which lots of people use all the time. I think it's quite right to criticise that one, and others of its ilk.

Jon: I would only go there on two wheels, and we only include the route on holidays for people who don't have cycle trailers, children, or other reasons why this would be unsuitable. Luckily, there is no reason for anyone to have to take this route.

Unknown said...

That's actually pretty cool having a "worst cycle path" list.
Here in the province of Ontario, we just finished our "worst roads" list sponsored by our largest auto organization (Canadian Automobile Association).

Looking at the path from the picture, we have something similar that goes for about 2 km. It's a great path however is in the same condition as that.
Of course most of our cycle paths are still considered "recreational".

Theo Z said...

This is a bad choice.
The worst cycle path should be the path you have (!) to use, and has a bad surface or is too small. This choice is a recreational only cycle path.

Looks like people who only bike in the weekend (or holiday only!) made that choice.

I think I see another one, east from Assen, that I think I know. And it is also recreational only... (between Schipborg and Annen).

townmouse said...

But wait - where are the 'cyclist dismount' signs, and the bizarre chicanes and steps, and the broken glass and the places where you have to cross a busy road without any lights? And it seems to go on for more than 10 metres before petering out. Oh, right, sorry, this is in the Netherlands, where they're not good at all at building rubbish cycle paths...

Jim said...

Taking into consideration their intended uses Drenthe's worst cyclepath is in better condition that alot of UK residential streets.

Sounds like the mutterings of a horribly cynical git, but unfortunately it's the truth!.

Frits B said...

Theo Z: Readers of the Dagblad were invited to send in their comments on cycle paths, so irrespective of the intended use. The final choice was made by a panel of three experienced riders with lots of miles annually. There were other paths in similar condition that were indeed used for serious travel, not just recreation. And of course it all depends on what you find acceptable for recreational purposes: 5 star accommodation or a tent.

I don't know if David noticed but there was a story recently about a man in his seventies who liked to ride on a path between Zwartsluis and Genemuiden (you can't get more rural than that) where he was constantly pestered by recreational riders on fast bikes. He himself preferred an average speed of 15 km/h or say 10 mph, whereas the "racers" rode easily twice as fast. His suggestion was to remove the racers to the road. The commenters suggested that he should stay at home in the future. You can never please all people.

Jon Bendtsen said...

@Frits B.
If the cycle path was wider, would there not be room for both slow and fast riders?

Frits B said...

@Jon: If I remember correctly, the path was the usual width, but what the man disliked most of all was the speed difference and the feeling that he was pushed aside by aggressive riders. His complaint is not unique. Lots of people dislike "racers", in the same way that racing a car on the open road is also disturbing the normal traffic flow. But roads have speed limits, and cycle paths haven't.
Also look at Brent's comments here:

Theo Z said...

Frits B: I don't think that all cycle paths should be that velomobiles could easily ride on (and, yes, I own a velomobile).
This is a natural area, and should stay that. No need for tarmac paths. I would go there on a straight (and maybe one day on a bend) bike.

So I wonder if those 'experience riders' there at the Dagblad aren't racing bikers with those thin tires.

So paths for serious travel and this condition, that would be my choice.

Frits B said...

Theo: I remember that one of the experts is a commuter who rides 80 km a day to work and back, on a "normal" bike. The other two rode a mountain bike and a racing bike. All they did was judge the general condition of the cycle paths, and inasmuch that this particular path is a simple recreational path, it should have fulfilled certain basic requirements for it to be classified by the ANWB as a regular bike path. In short: if the path is marked by a sign "fietspad" it should look like one. Not everyone likes to plough through the mud.

l' homme au velo said...

In Dublin the Council done a lot of work on the Canal Tow Paths which were really rough ,worse than this even. However the Smooth Cycle Track section on both Canals only last to the End of the Municipal Area of the City.

Which means it is only a Paved Track as far as Castleknock on the Royal Canal and Clondalkin on the Grand Canal. From then on it is really rough you are mostly only going through long Grass which comes up to your Waist in most cases.

If it Rains then Disaster it turns into a Mudbath. Every 200metres or less there is 20 metre wide Metal Barriers to prevent Joy Riders on Motorbikes or Cars Tearing along the Canals. They have these Revolving narrow Gates set in the Barriers so that you can get a Bicycle with Difficulty through. If you have Panniers then it is most difficult,sometimes if you Wheel the Bike on the Canal side around the Barrier it can succeed if the ground is not soft. Otherwise you might have to push the Bike sideways under the Barrier.

It pays you to have very thick Tyres on your Bike and preferably a light Bike, For the possible Mud and for lifting through the Gates.

However it is very popular to Travel on the Canals deep into the Countryside to the Country Towns even as far as the Shannon,but to do it successfully you need the thick Tyres and a light Bike.

Some Day they will get around to Paving the entire sections of the Canals Tow Paths then it will be a real pleasure to go Canal Touring.

cocosolis said...

Is that the *worst* they can do! They should try Prestwich Clough (, or rather, the portion of the 'national cycle network' that passes through it.

Micheal Blue said...

The path and the surrounding nature look great. How large is the area? Also, Dave, I wanted to ask you: in places where your bike paths join the road, is there a smooth, gentle slope, or is there a raised step? Do you get rattled nicely, or is it a smooth transition? In Toronto it's more on the rattling side, and I find it quite unpleasant, especially on my foldable commuter with 20" wheels. I would think that such a bike high-tech country as Holland would be nicer to bikers.

tvcommentaar said...

If we are in Drenthe we (my dad and i) cycle always on this kind of tracks. You get the best view and my father (born in Drenthe) knows a lot of those tracks.
But as mentioned before, these tracks arn't there because you Need to take them, these are just there if you want to take them.

David Hembrow said...

Michael: It is really nice there. It's marked on the map as a "stiltegebied" (silent area) and you really can't hear much at all in the middle of it if you stop.

That path is about 2.5 km long. There are many others in the same area, including this longer one from which you can barely see the other side. It's really a very pretty area.

And yes, dropped kerbs are properly dropped. "Rattles" are rare, and you're very unlikely to come off your bike even if you misjudge a parallel kerb.