Cycling in Yorkshire & Beyond

Header image with bicycles

Emerging Dutch Cycle Highway Network

F35 Fietssnelweg (cycle highway), by Steven Lek, CC BY-SA 4.0
F35 Fietssnelweg (cycle highway), by Steven Lek, CC BY-SA 4.0

The Dutch are making progress on their network of Cycle Highways, known as fietssnelwegen (bicycle motorways) or doorfietsroutes (through routes for bicycles).

So far, 62 routes have been built out of the 326 planned, reports RTL Nieuws. That represents 600km of the total 3,500km that it is hoped will be rolled out between 2017 and 2027.

The objective is modal shift – getting people to swap commuting by car for commuting by bike.

Tour de Force

The ten-year plan is called Tour de Force, and it involves local authorities, voluntary organisations and commercial companies.

The Tour de Force project leader is Saskia Zwiers. She says:

‘With the advent of e-bikes, people can cover greater distances between home and work. That works well around big towns and cities.

The first focus was on Cycle Highways near big towns and cities. The next step is more Cycle Highways between busy towns, and for this we need the regional governments to be involved’.

Saskia zwiers, tour de force

Characteristics of Cycle Highways

Cycle Highways are long-distance routes designed to get more people to commute by cycle.

So far as possible they should be away from motor traffic, according to Wendy Weijermars of the national scientific institute for road safety research.

‘And when they do cross a road, the crossing should be grade separated [underpass or bridge]’, says Weijermars.

Other desirable characteristics of Cycle Highways are:

  • they should be wide enough
  • bends should be gradual not sharp
  • no hard kerbs (which can make the consequences of a fall more severe)
  • priority at junctions


Around €160 million has been spent so far, or approximately €8 million per Cycle Highway.

To complete the planned network will cost a further €1.3 billion.

When new neighbourhoods are built, that will be the opportunity to ensure that Cycle Highways are included in the plans.

Best of the Network So Far

The best route on the network so far is the F35, between Hengelo and Enschede. Jeanette van ‘t Zelfde of the ANWB (Royal Dutch Touring Club) says:

‘It’s a wide path with gradual bends, and safe verges either side. You have priority [at most junctions] and the signage is clear. The F35 is a textbook example of what a Cycle Highway should look like’.

jeanette van ‘t zelfde, ANWB

Modal Shift

The Cycle Highways built so far have increased cycling rates by 29%, and 65% of path users previously went by car.

Edwin Greuter swapped his car for an e-bike to commute from Loenen aan de Vecht to Amsterdam (45km per day). His motivations were the environment and his own health.

‘One incidental benefit is that I have a clear head when I’m on my bike. In the car, you often end up talking on the phone to a customer or colleague’.

edwin greuter, e-bike commuter
Emerging Dutch Cycle Highway Network