By Rick Anderson
The selected bicycle highway I focused on connects Delft to Rotterdam and follows the Delftse Schie canal. The bike highway runs through the towns of Zweth, Kandelaar, Overschie, and Spangen.
The route is ideal for an inter-city connection as it follows a relatively straight canal that connects directly to Rotterdam. The canal also acts as a linear barrier so that there are few intersections with the path. All of the intersections outside of the city with the path were avoided through the use of overpasses over the path. The negatives aspects of rural roads which can be stressful and rough are avoided by using smooth, two-way cycle tracks and stand-alone paths for much of the route. The cycle track is spaced well away from the road and is grade-separated. However, the route did contain an inconvenient passage through a village with some rough surface and shared space occupied by both cars and bicyclists. Hopefully, parked vehicle spaces will be removed in the future so that a smooth bike lane or cycle track can be added.
The bicycle highway had many changes in environment and thus can be divided into five distinct segments. Section A is along the countryside; there the route primarily uses smooth cycle tracks along a canal and next to quiet roads. At times, the cycle track switches to advisory lanes on brick roads. Section B is the aforementioned short segment of the bike highway that runs through the quiet town of Overschie and uses local streets. Consequently, bikes are forced to share the road with cars thus making bicycling much more stressful. The stretch of road is narrow and winding which encourages slower car speeds, but as a result, also hinders bicyclists’ speed. Section C begins abruptly while leaving the village; it is the only stand-alone bike path on the route and is composed of smooth pavement alongside the canal. Thus, it is the safest and quietest segment of the entire route. Section D is within the city of Rotterdam and uses cycle tracks next to reasonably busy roads, leading to multiple signalized intersections. Section E is a bicycle tunnel that connects the bicycle highway to the south side of the River Maas. It is only possible to reach the tunnel through either an escalator or an elevator.
Below is an interactive map of the route and segments along with associated photos.
The route in total is 9.20 miles long.
- Four stop lights where bikes are forced to stop for traffic
- One point where bikes need to yield to cars at the end of a cycle track
- Eight grade separated crossings in the form of road overpasses
- Zero roundabouts
The route is composed of approximately:
- 70% Cycle Track
- 15% Stand-alone path
- 15% On-street
Lastly, approximately 100% of the path has overhead lighting.
The route is extremely easy to follow. The only time a sign was needed was at the junction of Overschiese Dorpsstraat and Delfshavenseweg where a turn is necessary (the sign is shown below). In addition, it proved to be difficult to locate the bicycle tunnel on the Rotterdam side of the river. The area could benefit from some addition signage. We were unaware of its location until we entered the building above the tunnel by mistake.
The route is seemingly complete and straight. The only improvement I suggest is through the village Overschie. The path is a times shared use and has rough pavement that is not ideal for bicycle use. I would recommend removing parked cars and adding cycle tracks or bike lanes.
The non-transportation item that I really enjoyed was the south side of the River Maas just after exiting the tunnel. The sharp contrast between city landscape and open water is incredible, see the photo below. There is also a great view of the Euromast!
Overall, the bicycle highway was a great experience. The route is fast and convenient with neither frequent stops nor impediments. Although the route contains an inconvenient passage through Overschie, the village is extremely scenic and provides a nice break from the long straight cycle tracks along the canal. For an individual commuting between Rotterdam and Delft, the highway would make for a relaxing alternative to inter-city trains.