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There should be more opportunities to make cycling and walking possible during the renovation of the Afsluitdijk.

There should be more opportunities to make cycling and walking possible during the renovation of the Afsluitdijk. This is how Fietsplatform, Wandelnet, cycling association NTFU and Fietsersbond recently announced in a letter to the members of the permanent parliamentary committee for Infrastructure and Water Management of the House of Representatives. The organizations have been intensively involved in exploring all options for expanding cycling and walking, but are disappointed with the outcome of the decision-making by Minister Harbers (Infrastructure and Water Management). That is why they draw attention to the advice given to Rijkswaterstaat at the beginning of this year.

Disappointing results
The letter from Minister Harbers to implement the Bromet motion only provides for one opening of the Afsluitdijk for cyclists and pedestrians for the coming year. The opening will take place in the third quarter of 2023. The bicycle bus will remain available free of charge, even after 2023. Due to the lack of bicycle bridges at the sluices (and the current new tender for this), it is still unknown how long the bicycle bus will be used will last, but in any case until 2025. From 2024 it will be possible to cycle and walk on the Afsluitdijk between the sluices. To pass the sluices, two extra bus stops will be realized on the Wadden side. The advice does not provide for further opening of the Afsluitdijk. Cycling platform, Wandelnet, cycling association NTFU and Fietsersbond are disappointed with this outcome.

Afsluitdijk closed to cyclists and walkers for six and a half years
The cycle path, which is iconic for domestic and foreign recreational and sporty cyclists and walkers, has been closed since April 2019. This means that it will be closed for more than six and a half years in total, with the exception of four openings in recent years and one opening in 2023. According to Esther van Garderen, director of the Fietsersbond, this is exceptionally long. No road in the Netherlands has ever been closed to car traffic for so long due to work. “In addition, according to the minister, the new tender around the sluice gates may lead to additional delays, so that the closure for cyclists and pedestrians will take even longer.” Eric Nijland, director of the Cycling Platform, adds: “We applaud the fact that the bicycle bus continues to run, but we have always emphasized that this is not a full-fledged solution for recreational and sporting users. In our opinion, the minister is not sufficiently implementing the adopted Bromet motion.”

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The bicycle bus will remain available for free, even after 2023.

Extra openings, bus stops and footbridges
According to van Garderen, the results should be reconsidered. “People want to be able to cycle and walk there. Cyclists and walkers are carelessly pushed aside here. It is apparently a matter of course that cars always take precedence over cyclists and walkers. Surely that should be over in the Netherlands? That is why we want to draw extra attention to our advice.” The advice of the joint parties provides for four openings in 2023, and once in the phase from 2024. Four additional bus stops must also be created to make optimal use of the cycle path between the locks from 2024 in both directions. Two on the Wadden Sea side and two on the IJsselmeer side, combined with two footbridges over the A7. This way you do not have to travel several parts with the bicycle bus. “The total costs of the renovation run into the billions of euros. The costs of the footbridges are nothing compared to this. Given the long-term nuisance for cyclists and walkers, we consider our solution to be entirely realistic,” says Nijland.

Wider bicycle bridge sluices
Finally, the parties refer to the situation that arises after completion of the work on the sluice gates. It has previously been advocated for a cycle path wider than 2 meters on the new bicycle bridges, given the expected numbers of cyclists and walkers and the comfort and, above all, the safety of the path. For constructive reasons this would not be possible. This is considered unlikely: the extra load due to a wider bicycle bridge is very small in relation to that of the sluice gate and the motorway bridge. The parties urge in a letter to review whether a wider cycle path is possible in the new tender, it said bicycle platform. Van Garderen: "Broadening in ten or twenty-five years' time will cost a multiple of this improvement now." 

Center photo: Bert e Boer/

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