Delft to Rotterdam — Max Corwin

Riding from Delft to Southern Rotterdam along the Schie

By Max Corwin

Figure 1: A stand-alone bike path alone a beautiful canal in the outskirts of Rotterdam.

This 15 km route extends from the N470 overpass on Rotterdamseweg in Delft to the end of the Maas Tunnel in southern Rotterdam. It follows the Schie canal for the entire route before reaching the Nieuwe Maas River in Rotterdam. In Rotterdam, there is a new two-way bike path along the canal so that cyclists do not need to ride on the street with cars. Then, the Nieuwe Maas Bicycle Tunnel is used to cross the river. This tunnel can be accessed by entering a building and taking the escalator down to the tunnel route. A short ride through the tunnel leads to the other side of the river and the end of the route.

Overall, this bike highway was pretty simple to follow and mostly felt like one long road along the Schie. Way-finding signs (Fig. 2) provided reassurance that I was going the right way rather than being critical to navigation since the route had few turns and I was using my phone for directions.

 Figure 2: A set of way-finding signs along the route. Red signs direct people towards different cities. The green signs lower down refer to numbered recreational routes.

The only difficult part was finding the entrance to the tunnel; the building that it is in is not clearly marked and does not look like tunnel entrances with which I am familiar (Fig. 3). Once I was in the tunnel building, the people working there directed me to the path and created a feeling of social safety in what could otherwise be a worrisome ride, especially at night.

Figure 3: Building with escalator to enter into the Maas Tunnel. This just looks like a normal building, making it non-obtrusive, but difficult to find.

The route (Fig. 4) can be divided into seven sections. From the beginning until point A, there is a cycle track alongside a quiet road (Fig. 5). From A to B, bikes use bike lanes. From B to C, bikes share a brick road with motor vehicles for a short stretch through the village of Oberschie (Fig. 8, 9). From C to D, bikes have their own path separate from roads carrying motor traffic (Fig. 1, 6). From D to E, bikes use a cycle track along a fairly busy roadway in Rotterdam until they reach the Maas Tunnel. From E until then end, bikes are in this tunnel (Fig. 7), which does not carry any motor vehicles. Although there are several switches in the bike path type, most of them are hardly noticeable since Dutch cycling infrastructure feels safe and spacious in nearly all its forms.

Figure 4: A map of the route. Zoom in to see different sections of the route as well as key landmarks.

Figure 5: A two-way cycle track alongside a quiet road. This photo was used between the beginning of the route and point A (see map), but a cycle track is also used in Rotterdam between points D and E.

Figure 6: A separated bike path between Overschie and Rotterdam. This photo was taken between points C and D (see map), but another separated path can be found in the Maas Tunnel.

Figure 7: The inside of the Maas Tunnel. The path is straight, smooth, and well-lit.

As mentioned, this route is so simple to follow since it is fast and direct. The 15 km can be covered in about 45 minutes. About 95% of this route is smooth pavement and I only had to stop once and yield once. There are eight grade-separated crossings to avoid conflicts with perpendicular traffic, thus avoiding the need for roundabouts, which are entirely absent from this route. Also, there is one bridge and one tunnel (Maas Tunnel) for crossing water. The bridge is a newly added footbridge that crosses the Schie-Schiekanaal. To allow for fast travel, about 20% of the route is along a stand-alone bike path while about 65% is along wide cycle track, nearly all of which is two-way. The remaining 15% is either along streets with bike lanes or with mixed traffic, most of which is in the village of Overschie between points B and C (see map). This is the only area that felt incomplete. However, this is only for a little longer than a kilometer though and is a lovely village with a low volume of motor traffic, so this is not so bad. In addition, there is little space to build dedicated bike infrastructure within the village, so this tradeoff is acceptable. Finally, nearly the entire routewas lit, making it a physically and socially safe route for cyclists in the Maas Tunnel and at night.

Figure 8: A narrow brick road found in the village of Overschie. Residents posted speed limit signs on their trash bins to remind car and moped drivers to driveslowly.

While it is often difficult to bike between cities, bicycle highways such as this one make doing so simple and stress-free. This is possible due to the smooth, flat infrastructure with few stops or turns. In addition, motor traffic is light along most of the route, especially in areas with bike lanes or mixed traffic, which allows for a care-free, peaceful ride along the water.

Figure 9: Greenery and planted flowers along the canal in Overschie.