As Mark Wagenbuur stated in his latest blogpost, the excursion season is in full swing in the Netherlands. We receive nummerous requests for tours in our cycling cities to get inspiration and learn from best practices. Apart from the pre- and postprogram of Velo-City, people want to see cities in personalized tours. They have read on the internet and want to experience the world class cycling infrastructure to to bring inspiration back home and tight bonds with Dutch experts. And, I received some requests from people who want to see the city on their own. In this blogpost I will show you my personal picks on the highlights of Utrecht.
This wide variety in purposes to visit a Dutch cycling city is not a recent development. Back in the 1980’s Delft became world famous by the strict implementation of Woonerf. In the 1990’s, when the Netherlands developed a lot of knowledge in the national Masterplan Fiets, the Cyclist Union published a do-it-your self guide to visit 10 cycling cities in the Netherlands.
I still have a copy in my bookcase and it is interesting to see what was the state of the art of cycling in the Netherlands at that moment. First of all the choice of the cities is interesting. Of course Amsterdam, Groningen and Delft are listed, but also Apeldoorn, Enschede, Helmond and Lelystad. It seems there was an idea to spread visitors over the Netherlands, which makes Lelystad an odd one out. For a Dutch city the cycling numbers are low, but the new architekture and the very strict lay-out of the city with complete separation of fast motorists and grade crossings for cyclists and pedestrians might explain the presence of this city. Not mentioned are the now popular cities Utrecht, Rotterdam, Eindhoven, Nijmegen, The Hague and ‘s-Hertogenbosch. These cities made a huge step in becoming cyclist friendly. Beyond that, they have an enthousiastic city staff to promote their city and good social media coverage.
Going more into detail the chapter of Houten has my special interest, as I had the privilege to work for for 12 years for the municipality. Twenty years after publication the text and route are outdated, as the city has grown and the city centre was renewed to accommodate more shopping, trains, people and bicycles. Also, the route I would guide you would be completely different. The wind protection screen is still working, but too far from the build up area. My tour would now include the new developed cycle streets, the grade separated roundabout and the lake. On the other hand, the story of Houten is more or less the same, although the city has doubled in inhabitants the basic statistics haven’t changed that much.
In this post I publish my own do-it-yourself map of Utrecht, to give you the opportunity to wander on your own in the beautiful city. This is in addition to the official route the city provides, and in addition to the postprogram of Velo-City. Bicycle rentals can be found here!
Please let me know your comments or experiences and enjoy!
UPDATE: In response Mobycon published their map with highlights of the Netherlands.
— Lennart Nout (@lennartnout) 9 juni 2017