Strange streets and rural ratruns in the Netherlands

On the path from Nijmegen to Eindhoven, following signs for an intermediate town, I stumbled upon the equivalent of a trunk road, the N324 Graafseweg on the edge of Wijchen, being dug up:

The cycle route here followed a series of short access streets parallel to the main road — non-through routes for motor vehicles but which are joined up with cycle tracks.

But at one point even the cycle route/access streets had been taken over by the construction crew, and bicycles were sent around a short and excellently signed diversion, along a suburban lane with cycle tracks:

And onto a little lane, Urnenveldweg I think it must have been, with no need for bicycle infrastructure, but with traffic calming — not very good traffic calming:

I imagine that this lane is normally little used. It runs parallel to the main road and doesn’t connect much other than the few properties here. So it’s interesting that the verges are so bare — what has killed the grassy edges? In addition to being the official bicycle diversion, quite a few motorists had discovered that it also makes a through route for cars, and they were determined to push their way through. Perhaps it was a self-selected sample of bad drivers — they were, after all, choosing to ignore their own diversions and instead ratrun down the country lanes. It was one of the few places in a 1,000km where being on a bicycle was anything less than completely comfortable and relaxed, and it destroyed the illusion that Dutch motorists are more considerate and better behaved than the British.

This is what they were doing with the main road:

According to a Google Translate of the council’s project page, they’ve reduced it from two lanes to a single lane in each direction, cut the speed limit to 50kmph, and put on a quieter surface — all measures to cut the noise pollution in this suburb. But the other thing they’ve done is built those walls: stone walls facing the main road, with gentle grassy banks facing the parallel bicycle/access streets and houses behind, another noise abatement feature. It’s a bit odd. I’m sure it’s preferable to having a 100kmph dual carriageway outside the front door, but it still looks like a funny sort of place to live.

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6 responses to “Strange streets and rural ratruns in the Netherlands

  1. Why funny? Didi I miss the point? Surely noise abatement and pretty flowers to look at instead of cars is a vast improvement…the only thing that would be better would be to put the motorised traffic in a completely submerged tunnel so you don’t have to see, hear or smell them at all! =P

  2. No, pretty flowers and noise abatement do look like a vast improvement. But the place is still almost completely severed by the road — it looks like it would be difficult to interact with neighbours, and I still can’t imagine this being a place where life really happens.

  3. “…it destroyed the illusion that Dutch motorists are more considerate and better behaved than the British.”

    Big surprise, human nature is the same the world over, the Dutch are not better people! But Dutch drivers are more tightly regulated and heavily penalised when they transgress. So they DO yield to cyclists who have right of way. And they DON’T occupy cyclist’s advance stop boxes. All of which is a necessary pre-condition for Dutch-style cyclepaths.

  4. The sign post showing a bicycle and the word Grave would be appropriate as the signing method for a lot of the cycle routes in the Uk. Could we adopt it???

  5. Pingback: Dutch pick-and-mix | Chester Cycling

  6. I suspect the verges are bare because the road seems rather new to me. The tarmac is smooth and dark, not worn. So I guess it’s bare because it hasn’t yet gotten the chance to grow back?

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