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Biking the Arnhem-Nijmegen Cycle Superhighway

It's no secret that the Dutch have the best bicycle infrastructure on Earth. And it keeps getting better.

While attending the Velo-city 2017 conference in the Netherlands, I got to ride the Arnhem-Nijmegen Cycle Superhighway. Imagine being able to bike 11 miles between two downtowns and not have to stop once for cars -- that is what the superhighway provides.

The Arnhem-Nijmegen route is one of a few cycle superhighways in the region. I brought my camera along on one group ride and got to chat with Sjors van Duren, the program director for Velo-city 2017, about what makes it attractive compared to car travel.

Interestingly, there was already a bike route between the cities of Arnhem and Nijmegen when the cycle superhighway was built. It's perfectly safe and usable -- a stellar piece of infrastructure that I would welcome with open arms here in NYC. But it has several junctions where you need to come to a full stop. That's where the cycle superhighway comes in.

So watch this Streetfilm and get the tour. By the time it's over you'll want a cycle superhighway for your hometown.

Clarence Eckerson Jr. has been making fantastical transportation media in NYC since the late 1990s. He's never had a driver's license and never will.

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  • Larry Littlefield

    If only the old NYC els had been converted to cycle highways rather than torn down.

    http://www.nycsubway.org/perl/caption.pl?/img/maps/calcagno-1920-elevated.gif

    There were a bunch in Brooklyn that are now gone too.

  • Vooch

    great story

  • Joe R.

    NYC desperately needs something like this, especially with major subway shutdowns due to disrepair looming right around the corner. Cycling 8 or 10 or 12 miles each way is practical for many if you can do it nonstop, but not if you're stuck on crowded, stressful streets where you're constantly hitting the brakes. I'm roughly 10 miles from Manhattan. Non-stop that's maybe 35 minutes if I'm not pushing myself. On the shitshow which is our regular city streets it would probably take upwards of an hour.

  • BruceWillisThrowsACar@You

    Ppl were too fcking enamored with the motor car

  • http://www.twitter.com/menorman Marven Norman

    The Arnhem-Nijmegen route is one of a few cycle superhighways in the region.
    ...
    Interestingly, there was already a bike route between the cities of Arnhem and Nijmegen when the cycle superhighway was built. It's perfectly safe and usable -- a stellar piece of infrastructure that I would welcome with open arms here in NYC. But it has several junctions where you need to come to a full stop. That's where the cycle superhighway comes in.

    This part really can't be understated: the Dutch "superhighways" are not the only way to travel between cities by bike and there often have several other existing options that would be quite stellar on their own...except by Dutch standards.

  • http://facebook.com/FerdinandCesarano Ferdinand Cesarano

    (So you want to say that it can't be overstated -- meaning that, no matter how much you emphasise the point, you won't be overstating it.)

    It is indeed remarkable that all these bike route options exist in the Netherlands. It's almost like these crazy Dutch people consider bicycling to be a normal mode of transport.

  • http://www.twitter.com/menorman Marven Norman

    Yes, let's reiterate it: these biking options aren't the only game in town!

  • Susan Pantell

    I did not see one person in this video with a helmet.

  • KeNYC2030

    A friend and I rode this last summer. It was a freaking revelation. (And both cities are pretty cool in their own right.)

  • http://www.streetfilms.org/ Clarence Eckerson Jr.

    You shouldn't. That would be a crime against humanity. :)

  • http://www.streetfilms.org/ Clarence Eckerson Jr.

    And I won't even talk about about the train that runs 5 times per hour between he cities. Takes between 12 and 18 minutes depending on which train you get. Okay, I talked about it....

  • Patrick94GSR .

    The size, population and distance between these cities is remarkable to me. Here we have two sizable cities with their own urban areas, and their distance apart is about like two suburbs of a larger metro area in the US. I commute from one suburb of Memphis TN to a farther out suburb, 15 miles one way. My town is larger in area than Arnhem, but with less than 15% of the population. My work town is about the same area as Nijmegen but has less than 5% of the population. The compactness of everything in the Netherlands and Europe in general is part of what makes the bicycle a much more viable form of transport, and what makes it so hard for it to really catch on in the US. Geography plays a big part. Probably also helps that the Netherlands is the most densely populated country in all of Europe.

  • Bernard Finucane

    The real problem is that Americans tore down their cities and paved them over. All those pointless downtown parking lots could easily be converted into mixed use neighborhoods.

  • Andrew

    They're not really needed when you're night competing with cars for road space.

  • Susan Pantell

    Exactly.

  • Andrew

    Glad we're on the same page!

  • http://facebook.com/FerdinandCesarano Ferdinand Cesarano

    New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the United States, and is a relatively small state. But the bicycle connection between the state's two most populated cities, Newark and Jersey City, which is a distance of about seven or eight miles from the centre of one city to the centre of the other, is scandalously bad. We have a problem in this country.

  • Kevin Love

    The Dutch government officially discourages wearing bicycle helmets. For example, in the national exams taken by all students in the Dutch equivalent of Grade 11, this year there was the following question:

    "Take the bicycle helmet. If you make it mandatory, you strengthen the idea that the bike is a dangerous means of transport. That leads to a decrease in the number of cyclists. That again decreases the safety, because the more cyclists there are, the more other road users will consider them. In short: the bicycle helmet increases the individual safety, but decreases the safety in general.”

    Question:

    The above text argues that mandating bicycle helmets causes a decreased safety. Place the numbers 1, 2, 3 and 4 in the correct sequence of cause and effect in the schedule on your answer form.

    1. the idea that cycling is not safe.
    2. road users who do not consider cyclists.
    3. fewer cyclists.
    4. a decreased safety.

    Source:

    https://bicycledutch.wordpress.com/2017/05/16/king-to-open-velo-city-and-other-news/

  • Andrew

    This is amazing.

  • USbike

    It's possible to easily, safely and pleasurably cycle just about anywhere in the entire country of Netherlands. Not just within cities, or between certain cities. Between a combination of quiet, country roads, separated bicycle lanes and also these somewhat fancier "superhighways," pretty much the entire country is well-connected for bikes. Of course, most people aren't routinely riding 25, 30 or 100 kilometers to commute between cities. Those are for the more hardcore. Though it's not uncommon for high school students to cycle 10-15 km (one way) to get to school.

    But the fact that you can do so so incredibly easily has resulted in an entire nation where the vast majority of the people cycle for various purposes. It really is incredible. Almost everyone here cycles. Some do it everyday, some occasionally and some mostly only for recreation. No one knows exactly what proportion of the population cycles. But some estimate it to be above 90%. It's just so normal to bike places. When my Dutch friends and I want to go to the beach (7.5 km away) or to a bar in the next larger town of Goes (15 km away), we almost always just hop on a bike and go. The only thing that would make us have second thoughts is bad weather. Contrast this to the States, where I had friends and colleagues that would drive even to destinations under a mile away. The mentality is very different. But this is the result of adequately considering and planning for cycling over many decades for many generations.

    True, the Netherlands isn't a very large country. Neither are most other European countries. But more importantly is the existence of proper infrastructure. There is a very noticeable relationship between the quality of cycling infrastructure and the proportion of people that cycle between the different countries, within provinces and even between cities of those countries. For example there are a few notably cycle-friendly cities in the neighboring countries of Belgium and Germany (i.e. Ghent, Antwerp and Bremen). For the most part, they also have a very developed network of cycling infrastructure, though not quite to the high standards of the Dutch. While the cycling levels in those cities are very high, they are still lower than comparable cities in the Netherlands.