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Gallery: Assen, Netherlands

Photos of cycling in and around Assen. It's a wonderful place to live and a wonderful place to cycle. It's also being made nicer all the time by excellent quality new provision. Assen spends 1.8 million Euros on new cycle provision each year, which breaks down to nearly 30 Euros per person per year. This is just the capital budget for new infrastructure. The maintenance budget is in addition to this, school cycle training is in addition to this, etc.

The city also receives a lot of benefit from the equivalent of S106 money.

65000 people live here and each person makes an average of nearly 1.2 journeys per day by bike.

Some shots here of the new housing estate Kloosterveen, are of note as this is a new development of some 8000 homes which is similar in scope to some of the "eco-towns" in the UK. This, however, is MUCH more cycle friendly and the new development has a wonderful direct route to the very centre of the city, which has no traffic lights on it at all (this makes it rather more efficient than using the driving route which has a minimum of three sets to get to the city centre).

People use practical bicycles for practical purposes here. As a result, cycle parking does not use sheffield stands, but more useful stands which hold the bike upright while you load your shopping on board. The few sheffield stands in the city are generally left unused as better alternative are available. Or people will use the stands on their bikes.

For more information on Assen, including some short videos, see this website:

Also see the photo gallery here:

And the English language articles on Dutch cycling policy and provision here:

And there's a blog here, explaining different aspects of how cycling works in the Netherlands:

This gallery was created on Thursday, 20th September 2007

Study Tour participants on 4 metre wide cycle path in Assen, Netherlands.

Brand new cycle parking stands of a type quite popular in Assen, Netherlands. These are not the best variety as they don't also have a loop to tie to the frame. However, this is a low crime area and few people bother to lock their frames ... [more]

Groningen Railway station parking. Unlike in the photos from 10 years ago ( #9747 ), this now has the bikes undercover and has architectural features on the roof. Watch the video to see some of the bike parking. No bike is shown twice in th ... [more]

Groningen railway station as it looks now. In contrast with older photos (e.g. #9747), the cycle parking is now hidden from view. Watch the video to get an idea of what this space looks like. In this video I am walking over the roof of t ... [more]

Bike parking on the other side of Assen railway station. There is a lot of bike parking here, just as there is everywhere else around the city. Also see #12021 for a view of the parking at the front side of the station.

Temporary bike parking stands which previously were deployed in a totally routine manner on a local building site so that workers could use them and now awaiting collection.

Seat provided as part of an initiative to encourage recreational cycle journeys to such locations as the woods near Assen in Drenthe that this is next to. There's a splendid bike path all the way here.

Equivalent of A-frame shop, but with bike parking built in. Not the greatest quality of parking, but how marvellous to see a shop adding a bit to the available parking. Assen, Netherlands.

Yet another shop with branded cycle parking outside. Retailers here in Assen seem to like cyclists. The car parking shown on Google's aerial photography doesn't exist any more.

Another example of a company providing branded customer cycle parking outside their premises. In this case it's a central heating company. Like many of the other photos, this location now looks completely different to the google aeria ... [more]

Cycle parking at the restaurant right next to the entrance. Also note the yellow box of tools available for use by cyclists which you can see a closer image of in #12781. The blue bike at the right in the parking is an OV-Fiets. OV stand ... [more]

Crossing the entrance / exit from a new underground carpark. Unusually, bikes give way to cars at this point, though as very few cars ever seem to be here it doesn't cause a problem. Perhaps the choice of priority is determined by driver ... [more]

Bike path junction with road. Once you get away from this junction, excellent segregation between road and cycle path is achieved by the road being on this side of Het Kanaal (a canal), while the cycle path is on the opposite side (in the n ... [more]

Crossing Het Kanaal on an excellent bridge. There are many such bridges. The bike path is on the far side of the river while the road is on the side where the camera is. There are countless bridges like this in the area and it's perhaps ... [more]

Cycle path alongside Het Kanaal. The road is on the opposite side of the canal behind the vegetation to the left of the image. This degree of segregation combined with excellent quality cycle paths makes cycling a pleasure. It also makes ... [more]

Bicycles parked at the bus stop. Bus stops here always have bike parking provided. Bike + bus is quite a popular way to travel a longer distance than you might want to travel by bike alone. The bike path here is 4 m wide and the thin (cl ... [more]

Excellent new cycle path in the standard four metre width. This path links the new development of Kloosteveen with Assen in the Netherlands. #11714 includes video near this location. This cycle path, between the new development and ... [more]

Excellent cycle path in the standard four metre width. Following from the video which gets us to this location, watch #12118 which follows on from here. This cycle path, between the new development and the city, was built with the equiva ... [more]

This used to be one of the main roads to the centre of the city, but now it's a "bicycle road" and used by cars only for access. Motorists have been given a different (less direct) route. While these look like 1.5 m bike lanes each side ... [more]

Old main road being re-worked into a "bicycle road" which gives priority to cyclists. Through motorised traffic is being sent by a different (longer, less direct) route over a new bridge #12105). This will consist of two large red cycle lan ... [more]

Four metre wide cycle path past an industrial estate. Very wide and well used, even at the weekend. Note the racing cyclist coming in the opposite direction. People ride such bikes at speed on these paths quite freely because they are go ... [more]

Continuation of cycle path to the next town,. This is part of a sequence of photos and videos starting at #11773 and ending in #11778. #11775 is the next part. This is unidirectional, there is an identical path on the other side of the r ... [more]

Arriving in Vries from Assen. We've had a journey of around 6 km so far on this superb path. The sequence of photos starts at #11773 and ends at #11778. #11776 is the next part. There is an identical path on the other side of the road fo ... [more]

Bus stop with covered cycle parking behind in the wooden shed. It is very common for bus stops to have cycle parking, and on a work day they are very well used (this photo was taken on Sunday morning). This is part of a sequence of photo ... [more]

Cycle path going smoothly behind a garage in order to prevent cyclists having to be careful of drivers entering and leaving the garage forecourt. Note that an equivalent quality cycle path on the other side of the road is used by cyclist ... [more]

We started in Assen and now we're in the middle of Vries - almost half way to Groningen. To get here we have followed a fantastic smooth and wide cycle path to which side roads give way, and now that we're in Vries, for the first time in ma ... [more]

The cycle paths in the Netherlands are suitable for high speed riding and are well used by racing cyclists travelling at speed. They're difficult to photograph as they're difficult to keep up with. I huffed and puffed on my 3 speed to ge ... [more]

Yet another example of a side road giving way to a cycle path. This is the other side of the road from the sequence shown from #11773. Note how the 2.5 m wide concrete surface passes through the road. Cyclists definitely have priority he ... [more]

Groningen Airport Eelde - this airport is between Groningen and Assen and serves both cities. Surprisingly, there isn't a bike path right outside the terminal, but watch the video to see how short a distance it is to the cycle path. The pat ... [more]

A Dutch junction quite similar to Cambridge's A10 / A14 junction at Milton. However, here cyclists are definitely not on the road and this is used even by school children (a lot of them). Watch the video to see how it works. We start ... [more]

Following a group of "racers" into the village of Zeijen. They've been riding three abreast for as long as I've seen them with no trouble whatsoever from any traffic. The sign indicates the speed limit on all the village's roads, includi ... [more]

When there isn't a cycle path, speed limits on the roads are low. The speed limit on this rural road is 50 km/h, or around 30 mph.

This sort of minor road in a village will have a 30 km/h speed limit in the Netherlands. In this case, 1.5 km of road past just a few houses has this speed limit. The other end of the zone is shown in #12268

The entirely rural 30 km/h around the village of Deurze. This zone is about 1.5 km long on mostly empty rural roads with just a few houses. The other end of the 30 km/h zone shown in #12136 "Let op, rechts heeft voorrang" is to tell peop ... [more]

This minor road is about to turn into a dirt track passable only by tractors... but not for cyclists, who continue to have a nice smooth tarmac surface to ride on. Watch the video to see how this work. One of the great advantages of a pr ... [more]

This road is closed to motorized vehicles and so available nearly all the time for cycling. Why only "nearly" ? It's a military practice area, so come in at the wrong time and you might find yourself facing a tank... Still, it's wonderfu ... [more]

Excellent cycle path next to the road, but I'm taking the little paths today as you'll see from the video

A rather antiquated example of a paddestoel sign marking the start of a really nice bike path in the middle of nowhere. It's not that there is anything wrong with the roads around here for cycling on. They're only used by the odd tractor ... [more]

This once through road at the exit of a small village is no longer a through road for drivers. However, cyclists have been provided with a marvellous way out. An excellent cycling signpost at the end of the tunnel gives many options for ... [more]

Lots of directions for cyclists to travel in, but only one for motorists.

Terrible rough surface for anyone driving a motor vehicle, but a fine path for cyclists.

"Slecht Wegdek" means "bad surface". It really is a bad surface. I wouldn't want to drive a car over it. Of course, we don't have to worry about this if we're on a bike. Watch the video to see how much better you're treated on a bike. ... [more]

An example of how segregation allows motorists to be controlled without adversely affecting cyclists. At this location the road narrows and bends and it is necessary to give one direction of travel on the road a higher priority than the ... [more]

Bridge built over a ditch so that cyclists can continue to be segregated from motor traffic on this narrow section of road. Note that drivers at one point along here have to give way to oncoming vehicles. Cyclists avoid the problem of ha ... [more]

A less good than average treatment of a tunnel under a motorway, but still creditable as allowing cyclists to continue at a good pace without giving way to anything at all. The video continues to cross the bridge shown from the other sid ... [more]

Excellent wide and smooth segregated cycle path following on from #12270.

Segregated cycle path in Assen. This would be exceptional by UK standards, with side roads giving way to the bike path etc. However, it now falls below what is required here, the tiles are a little bit rough and the width is just 3 metres. ... [more]

Photo taken on the 21st of December at a temperature of -4 C. This is no reason not to go to collect your shopping on a bike with two young children aboard (you can see the older child achterop - on the back, play the video to see the secon ... [more]

Long cycle underpass which goes beneath the railway, railway station and two roads roads. The cycle path is four metres wide. For some of the distance it also has a 2 metre pavement for pedestrians, but at this end they come out in a separa ... [more]

Start of a combined cycle and car underpass. Note how the bike part doesn't go so deep as the car bit because it doesn't have to allow for high vehicles. Because of this, the gradients are less for cycles. Also note that this is a bidirecti ... [more]

Update April 2008: A meeting with city officials brought the information that this is only a secondary path in this direction. The primary bike route is to be 5 metres wide and parallel with this one on the other side of the canal. The " ... [more]

The new cycle path on Vaart ZZ. This replaces what was already a fully segregated path, with a better quality version of the same. It's decently wide (three metres) so not even a "steam" roller on the path (here as part of the works) can bl ... [more]

New bridge constructed to take a dual carriageway over a cycle path. This huge bridge replaced a very large road junction which was in this position previously. Drivers can no longer leave the dual carriageway at this point and follow wh ... [more]

Assen, Netherlands. What was once a perfectly good road for driving on is being converted into a "bicycle road". This involves cutting a metre wide strip from the middle of the road, leaving two single direction 2 m wide cycle paths. The ga ... [more]

Cycle commuters going along the bicycle road in Assen on a wet morning... The bicycle road has priority for bikes. It is not allowed to park a car on the road and it does not provide a through route for cars. Cars (apart from those of ... [more]

Hunebed near Assen. Drenthe has quite a lot of these ancient monuments, and they're reachable easily by bike. And yes, you do seem to be allowed to climb all over them.

One of many small paths in an area of mixed heath and forest just a couple of minutes cycle from the city of Assen. Anyone can escape the city and get out into some greenery on their bikes with ease. While all these paths are well surfac ... [more]

A relatively narrow, recreational cycle path in the Netherlands. However, it's still wide enough for two bikes to be side by side, it's surfaced with smooth tarmac, it's been gritted because it's cold, cleared of leaves and has signposts. ... [more]

Marvellous recreational path through a forest. This was wonderfully smooth and quite up to speeds of over 30 km/h. It's also possible to proceed slowly, of course, and picnic benches are provided at regular intervals to allow for a gezel ... [more]

Fantastic cycle path through heath. This is what makes cycling such a pleasure in the Netherlands. A very smooth tarmac recreational path with absolutely nothing nearby. I rode along here the whole time in excess of 30 km/h without having ... [more]

27th December 2007. It being a bit warmer (5 C) today I decided to go for a ride of around 40 km in the afternoon. This meant riding on a lot of really beautiful paths in the middle of nowhere. I dismounted for the rather large and immob ... [more]

Bike path in Pittelo, Assen. Four metres wide, amazingly smooth and also provides for service vehicles to get to the canal.

Approaching a small village outside Assen on the cyclepath

Typical Dutch bike path between villages. In a location like this where traffic is lighter, you will find that a bidirectional path on just one side of the road is quite common. There is, of course, attention paid wherever someone might ... [more]

Cyclist are on this side of the canal, the main road is on the other side of the canal. This road is actually shared as an access road for a few houses and for tractors to get to fields. Watch the video to see how you can get all the way fr ... [more]

The sun's shining, it's a lovely day and here I am cycling flat out on a proper segregated bike path which goes for another 4 km before I have to worry about a road junction. I'm here, the cars are over there. Just try crashing into me, ... [more]

Nice little country lane. It's quite difficult to find anywhere without separate provision for cyclists, but it does exist where the speed limit is low and there is virtually no traffic. This road provides access to a couple of farm buil ... [more]

Nice wide cycle path near recreational areas outside the city.

Nice smooth tarmac cycle path through the countryside in the middle of nowhere. There is an enormous network of these. They're ideal for recreational rides.

Segregated cycle facility... We're this side of the canal, the cars are the other side of the canal.

The canal is crossed by a series of lifting bridges

These arches over the cycle path appear to have been installed for no reason other than that they're nice to have.

Typical bike path alongside a fairly busy rural road

Excellent signs are placed all over the Dutch national cycle path network

The sign for drivers says "Assen 16 / Groningen 14 / Zuidlaren 9". The bike route sign says "Assen 15 / Groningen 12 / Zuidlaren 8". It is almost always the case that cycle routes are more direct than driving routes.

Has anyone ever told you that cycle routes are indirect ? These two signposts are about 10 metres apart. The blue ones show distances for cars, the red for bicycles on the bike paths. Mostly the show the same distances to different pl ... [more]

Knooppuntnetwerk route signage in Friesland. It's a join-the-numbered-dots system of maps as shown spaced a few hundred metres apart in all directions across the province. This is claimed to have paid for itself almost as soon as it was ins ... [more]

Two "Except Cyclists" signs in one photo. I've yet to find a one-way street here which doesn't except cyclists. See also #12343 which shows three more within a few metres of this location.

Little signs that say "uitgezonderd" with a picture of a bike and a bromfiets (an especially gutless class of low power motorbike) mean that these vehicles are excepted from whatever regulation is otherwise enforced by the sign. There ar ... [more]

Unusually for the Netherlands, an urban landscape which is dominated by cars. There is comparatively little cycle parking, presumably because there is little need for it. This is Oosterwolde in Friesland and an example of the "Shared Spa ... [more]

Traffic safety is taken very seriously at the school. It's already well in advance of that at a typical British school. No parking of cars on the pavement and a very high rate of cycling and walking. However, this is clearly something which ... [more]

Traffic safety is taken very seriously at the school. It's already well in advance of that at a typical British school. No parking of cars on the pavement and a very high rate of cycling and walking. However, this is clearly something which ... [more]

Traffic safety is taken very seriously at the school. It's already well in advance of that at a typical British school. No parking of cars on the pavement and a very high rate of cycling and walking. However, this is clearly something which ... [more]

Today the children's bikes were inspected at school. A police officer comes to the school premises to test all the kid's bikes once per year. It's quite a job as virtually all kids bring their bikes to school. The result: A sticker sayin ... [more]

"Blij dat ik fiets" - "Happy that I cycle" Sticker for the rear mudguard given out by Fietsersbond - the Dutch cycle campaigning organisation. Smiling while cycling is normal here.

Veilig Verkeer Nederland distribute a set of "happy families" cards to children who pass the traffic safety examination. These are all quite witty. e.g. The top left in the "Weather or no weather" group says "With the wind on your back, ... [more]

Children coming home for lunch at a primary school in a village.

Secondary school students riding home from school. They will have come from a school in Assen but probably live in Beilen, about 20 km south. A 40 km round trip to school is not particularly unusual in the Netherlands. This isn't a cy ... [more]

There's no cycle path here, but there is a service road next to the main road, which gives cyclists wonderful traffic free conditions.

While cycling rates in Assen are already incredibly high by British standards, the fight to increase the rate of cycling still goes on. This was in today's (1st November 2007) local paper. Since this time, the cycling rate in Assen has g ... [more]

A now rare Fietsers Oversteken sign. These old-fashioned signs sometimes appear on relatively little used roads to tell cyclists to use the cycle path on the other side of the road. It's not a huge penalty as the bike paths are perfectly go ... [more]

What do Dutch cyclists want ? Good Cycle Paths ! This is a recruitment pamphlet from Fietsersbond, the Dutch "Cyclists Union" which campaigns for cycling facilities in this country. There is no movement here to want to cycle on the ro ... [more]

Post card from the local government advertising what is being done on newly upgraded rural cyclepaths - which are branded fietsroute+. The points in the green dots: o Clearly signposted o Easy and safe crossings o Minimum of 2.5 m w ... [more]

The council here in Assen publishes a couple of pages in the local paper each week about things that are going on. Today (15th November) this article was included: -------------------- Gritting - Why bollards are removed in winter ... [more]

A couple of days ago back in photo #12123 I added a photo of an article in the local newspaper where the council was promising to grit the paths once winter arrived. This Sunday morning I went for a ride of about 50 km and found virtually e ... [more]

Minor road alongside the main road. I have no idea why anyone would prefer to ride on main-roads with lots of traffic when there is an alternative like this which has virtually no traffic on it except the cars belonging to the people in the ... [more]

Another missive from the Assen local government printed in the paper. This is all about de-icing the roads and cycle paths. The title "Assen government in action against slipperiness" A few salient points. 340 km of road and 207 km ... [more]

The routes taken daily by the four different special cycle path gritting trucks which operate in Assen. They cover 207 km of cycle path each day, keeping the whole clear of icy patchs and safe to use through the winter. This information ... [more]

Lifting bridge for cyclists over the canal in the snow. This cyclist is riding one handed and holding an umbrella to keep the snow out of his face. The cycle paths have all been gritted, so it's quite safe to do this. More Assen cycli ... [more]

The cyclist on the left is confident enough that the road will be free of ice that he's cycling with no hands. Even though it's a minor road, it's completely clear or ice and snow. The roads and cycle paths are gritted daily through the ... [more]

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