I started off by riding up the coast to Den Haag via the Hook of Holland. The vast Europort is a bit of a maze but the route to the foot ferry to the Hook of Holland is clearly signed and uses a mix of cycle tracks and quieter roads. At Hook of Holland there was a Dutch ‘traffic jam’ as maybe 50 cyclists were waiting to get on a ferry designed to carry up to 20 bikes!
|Dutch traffic jam!|
This is part of the North Sea Cycle Route ‘LF1’ similar to our National Cycle Network. For the most part it’s what the Dutch call a ‘Fietspad’ and what in Britain we would call ‘a shared use route’. The traffic free coastal route passes through the dunes and alongside beaches and promenades is typically 4.0m wide with either a concrete or tarmac surface. Priorities are clearly marked at road junctions, sometimes the cycle route has priority, but at the busier beach car park access roads cyclists are expected to stop for cars if necessary. Pedestrians using the route are heavily outnumbered by cyclists and people tend to always walk or cycle on the right, moving right to let faster cyclists pass. It’s all good natured, conducted with a ping on the bell, a ‘hi’ or a wave, although a bell is very much the preferred way and the Dutch weren’t impressed that our touring bikes didn’t have them.
At minor road junctions it is a requirement to give way to traffic from the right, even when travelling straight ahead, so drivers and cyclists generally take more care (than in the UK) when there are other vehicles in the vicinity of a junction.
· Traffic is concentrated on the motorways and ‘A’ roads that provide good inter-urban connections. The lower categories of road generally do not provide good direct routes for cars, and this pattern is reinforced by limited crossing points of major rivers such as the Rhine and Maas as ferry services have limited capacity for cars and don’t carry HGVs.