7 bike bridges in the Netherlands offer us a few lovely lessons
Bike lanes, bike paths, bike roads, bike parking — we've seen tons of photos of this great bike infrastructure from the Netherlands. One more type of infrastructure that I think deserves some special attention is the humble bridge. I snapped a handful of pictures of cool bike bridges and bike-friendly bridges when I lived in the Netherlands. Below, you can find this bike eye candy as well as a few thoughts on unique features of these bridges that could be implemented elsewhere.
The Groningen bridges pictured above and immediately below clearly have a cool design, but the other neat thing about them is that they allow for bikers and pedestrians to cross when the main bridge is up. It's easier to bike across the main bridge, and it's cool that, despite having dedicated bike and pedestrian bridges on the sides, the main bridge is also covered in Dutch-bicycle-path paint to alert drivers to the fact that bike lanes merge into the roadway while crossing the bridge (a rare occurrence in the Netherlands). However, the main bridge is apparently a bit old and too short for some boats. So, when the bridge must go up for a bit, bicyclists and pedestrians don't have to wait around and can just take "the high road." Special consideration for bicyclists and pedestrians — so Dutch.
The bridge below, in Delft, is a neat one. It keeps cars out most of the time, but those little robocop-looking posts can actually lower and raise with the push of a button. I think the purpose is to allow in delivery vehicles and emergency vehicles when necessary.
This next Delft bridge is similar in that it blocks cars and offers bicyclists and pedestrians a more scenic shortcut that bypasses a busy highway. However, there's no real need for delivery or emergency vehicles to get through here, so there aren't any fancy robocop posts. (Though, I'm sure those red posts can come down in some situations.) The overall point here, in my opinion, is: why not give bicyclists and pedestrians a little bit of a scenic bonus for not driving, and a route of their own?
Again in Delft, the following bike bridge is in the city center. It's a bit smaller — perfectly sized and designed for bikes. The key here again is that it makes bicycling more convenient and more enjoyable. When I was walking by at about rush hour, there was a pretty constant stream of bicyclists, demonstrating how good the location was — surely no accident.
This next bridge is similar. However, cars can also use it. Nonetheless, the narrow design (and bikeability of the surrounding area) clearly makes people feel comfortable biking and even walking over the bridge.
As I've shared before, sometimes bicyclists also get to avoid major car traffic by having their bike paths go underneath (rather than over) highways. Below is a picture of such a facility in Groningen. It's not really big enough to be a tunnel, so I'll call it an inverted bridge.
Lastly, this one isn't pretty — I took it after sunset on a rainy day from the backseat of a car — but there's something important to share here, too. This was way out in the suburbs where a new development was going in. You can't see much else, because the bike bridge was one of the first things to get built. That's how it's done when bicycling is a priority!
Related stories you might want to check out: