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  1. #1
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    Cycling Rotterdam to Berlin Summer 2012 - questions!

    Hi

    We are a group of Irish cyclists whjo intend to do a charity cycle from Ireland to Berlin next summer.

    Our planned route is Ferry to England - cycle to Hull - ferry to Rotterdam - cycle to berlin. We will all use road bikes, and our av speed will be 25~30 kph.

    My questions are:

    Is it feasible to use the cycle paths in Holland/Germany at these speeds?
    Are they the shortest routes - or are there alternatives?
    By law, must you use the cycle paths in Holland/Germany?

    Any help with these queries - and anything related, if you have opinions - would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you in advance

    Andy O'Callaghan

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by andyoc View Post
    1: Is it feasible to use the cycle paths in Holland/Germany at these speeds?
    2: Are they the shortest routes - or are there alternatives?
    3: By law, must you use the cycle paths in Holland/Germany?
    1: Yes, but expect lower speeds when traveling through cities or busy areas. Especially during summer bicycle paths can be quite crowded in The Netherlands.
    2: Don't know. I think that is the shortest route, short of taking a ferry to other parts in Holland. The downside is less varied terrain.
    3: If there is a sign or a cycle path, the yes. They are obligatory. Sometimes they are tolerated on the main road, but at those speeds (25-30kmh) you will only endanger yourselves because of the speed difference.

    Other tips would be to get proper lighting when cycling in the dark and bringing a good sturdy lock. Bicycle theft is a real problem in some areas and people will rarely leave their bike unlocked.
    Also; Don't run red lights. They are there for a reason and only experience will tell when you can ignore some of them.

    Do you intend to go camping, or travel from hostel to hostel?

    Fun to read: The meaning of bicycle bells

    In general I believe you will find both Holland and Germany to be excellent places to cycle. So enjoy.

  3. #3
    Senior Member ijsbrand's Avatar
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    Are they the shortest routes - or are there alternatives?
    Cycle paths typically go from city to city. On a cycling tour it is often, in my opinion, better to avoid the cities, or at least their centers, that aren't the main destination.

    For the Netherlands the Cycling Union -- called Fietsersbond -- has it own routeplanner, that calculates routes, from door to door, according to different criteria. So, the shortest route won't necessary be the same route as the best ridable route, or the most scenic one, or the one most suited for road bikes.

    Other roads will be used for those every time than cycle paths alone.

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    Thank you JaccoW and ijsbrand for your replies.

    Could I ask your advice, then for a route from Europoort Rotterdam to Arnhem?

    Andy

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    Dunno' what your goals are, or what you really want for a shortest route, but you can also take the ferry from Harwich to Esbjerg, Denmark. Less distance on the continent, but less interesting countryside. You'd have to get some Danish crowns, too.

    The plus would be more open roads and fewer mandatory bike paths.

    Cheers.

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    Sorry - I should explain my "shortest routes" statement.

    For instance, I mapped a route from Rotterdam to Arnhem for a day's riding. By road it's about 120k, but by cycle paths, it's about 146, plus there seem to be many many junctions, with lots of direction changes.
    If the bike routes are the way to go, then that's fine - I just want to make sure that we wouldn't be a] too fast for other cyclists on the paths and b] that we might have difficulty following the routes. We will have a Garmin tho', so should be fine

    Thanks all!
    Andy

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    Senior Member ijsbrand's Avatar
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    And that's why I pointed you to the special routeplanner for bicycles.

    And in case the Dutch there is to confusing. Type two addresses in, choose a profile,
    kortste route = shortest route
    natuurroute = scenic route through nature
    racefietser = road biker
    makkelijk doorfietsen = best cyclable

    You never can plan a better route by using Google or whatever than those experts have found.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by andyoc View Post
    Sorry - I should explain my "shortest routes" statement.

    For instance, I mapped a route from Rotterdam to Arnhem for a day's riding. By road it's about 120k, but by cycle paths, it's about 146, plus there seem to be many many junctions, with lots of direction changes.
    If the bike routes are the way to go, then that's fine - I just want to make sure that we wouldn't be a] too fast for other cyclists on the paths and b] that we might have difficulty following the routes. We will have a Garmin tho', so should be fine

    Thanks all!
    Andy
    Got it. My experience is that once out in the countryside, speed isn't a problem. Germany seems to have fewer mandatory country paths, but some of the ones that are mandatory are utter garbage. Your mileage may vary.

    --

    Side bar: The first time I rode in the Netherlands, I tried to follow the bike routes but got all confused because the paths seemed to double back on one another, change numbers regularly, and were otherwise utterly confusing to the point where I started wondering out loud what the heck was wrong with these people.

    Then I met up with a friend in Maastricht, and he explained that the numbers don't refer to paths, but to points, or intersections. So basically, you string together a bunch of way-points and just follow the signs from spot to spot.

    Rather clever when you put it that way.

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    Thanks for that Ijsbrand...am able to work it reasonably well, but no Dutch, I'm afraid! Still, I can see the route, and I can download to Garmin, so that's all good!

    Thanks again

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    Hey! When do you plan to do this ride? I'm leaving the Netherlands the end of June, but if I'm still here, I'd love to join!!


    Cheers,

    Laura

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    Not until August 24th/Sept 3rd I'm afraid, Laura!

  12. #12
    Commuter & cyclotourist brianogilvie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pedaleur View Post
    Then I met up with a friend in Maastricht, and he explained that the numbers don't refer to paths, but to points, or intersections. So basically, you string together a bunch of way-points and just follow the signs from spot to spot.
    It's even worse: some paths use the knoppunten (the numbered waypoints), while others are numbered routes. And then there are the local routes that are indicated with arrows pointing toward your destination. Once you figure out which kind you want, it's relatively easy to use them, but it takes a little getting used to.

    In the Netherlands, you are obligated to use a bicycle path if there is a round blue sign with a bicycle on it. If there is a white sign with "Fietspad" in black letters, you are allowed to use that but you're not required to use it. If there is an obligatory bicycle path that is not immediately next to the road, the road will often be marked no bicycles.

    Note that many obligatory bike paths in the Netherlands, especially those next to major roads, are also obligatory for mopeds and motor scooters (bromfietsen). So you should be alert for scooters coming up quickly behind you.

    (FYI, if you make it to France, it's important to note the distinction between round and square bicycle signs. They're both blue, with a white bicycle on them, but the round ones are obligatory, while the square ones aren't.)

    In Germany, the legal status of bike paths is difficult to figure out. A 2009 change in the law removed the language that made designated bike paths obligatory, but I think there have been some court decisions that have upheld it. I haven't cycled in Germany for years, so I haven't kept up. If one of you is a member of CTC I'm sure you could check with them. Note that to be street legal in Germany, bikes must have generator-powered headlights and taillights. Exceptions are made only for racing bikes that weigh less than 11 kg; they must be equipped with lights but they can be battery powered and you can keep them in a bag when they aren't needed. And yes, at least in Berlin in the 1990s, the police would sometimes weigh bikes to make sure they were light enough.

    Sounds like a fun trip, though if you're used to Irish hills, the northern European plain might get rather dull!

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    as for germany i would just look for some nice smaller roads to ride on. i don't know if it is obligatory to use bike paths, but i guess noone will complain if you ride on roads except maybe for some car passing by. the quality of bike paths varies - some are very good, others are not suited for higher speed or roadbikes.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by jerse View Post
    as for Germany i would just look for some nice smaller roads to ride on. i don't know if it is obligatory to use bike paths, but i guess no one will complain if you ride on roads except maybe for some car passing by. the quality of bike paths varies - some are very good, others are not suited for higher speed or roadbikes.
    my understanding is that you must use the bike paths if they exist; otherwise, you would be at fault in the event of any accidents or mishaps

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