The planned F15 cycle highway in the Netherlands represents a new model for cycling infrastructure projects. Not because of the route’s design standard, its length, or the new cycling bridge over the Pannerdensch Canal, but because of the lowest common denominator. Cost. This is possible because of the high level of integration the project has with the adjacent A15 motorway, sharing resources, rather than duplicating them, by working together.
By 2024, at the initiative of the province of Gelderland, Netherlands, cyclists who wish to travel between the cities and towns surrounding the Pannerdensch canal will have their journeys shortened because of the new cycle highway. For example, on the 18 km distance between Bemmel and Zevenaar, cyclists will have their current 1h12minute journey reduced by an average of 20 minutes, due to the increased speed possible and the new Pannerdensch canal bridge, which supplements the existing ferry service. When a pedelec is used, increasing cycling speed up to 25 km/h, 35 minutes will be saved. This is in addition to the resulting safety benefits, as cyclists no longer need to interact with traffic at busy junctions.
Map of the planned F15 Cycle highway.
This new route will be possible because of the way cycling has been integrated into the A15 motorway project (part of the Rhine – Alpine core TEN-T/trans-European road corridor), enabling the sharing of manpower and resources to keep costs low. For context, the 13 kilometres of cycling highway that the F15 cycling route will add is budgeted to cost €4.5 million, whilst the comparable nearby RijnWaalpad cycle route (F325 Nijmegen- Arnhem), 15.8km long, cost over 3x the amount per kilometre, at €17 million in total. Savings like this are nothing to sniff at.
Existing F325 tunnel under the A15 motorway, start of the future F15 cycle highway route. Building a tunnel under an existing motorway at a later stage is more expensive and complicated than integrating one into the original motorway design.
At ECF we strongly believe this is something governments across the continent need to take notice of. Infrastructure is generally the most expensive part of developing a cycling network, and dramatic savings like this can make sure money is spent cost effectively. At the EU level we are pushing hard for cycling infrastructure to be considered as an integral part of the Trans European Transport network (TEN-T). This would mean that road (re)construction projects would need to consider the potential impacts of integrating elements of cycling infrastructure into the project, promoting the kinds of cooperation we have seen on the F15 route.
The F15 therefore is a great best-practice example for policymakers and infrastructure designers/engineers to look at. We hope that future projects will learn lessons, be inspired and integrate cycling into their future plans to build motorways, railroad lines and other large-scale infrastructure.
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