A tale of (cycling around) two cities

My husband is one of those ‘cycling indicator species’ that people are so fond of discussing. Like women, children and the elderly he just won’t cycle unless it’s convenient, safe and pleasant. So on Saturday morning we found ourselves pushing heavily laden bicycles around Newcastle city centre trying to find NRN route 72, the fabled cycle path out the ferry terminal..

Compared to most of the cycle infrastructure I’ve encountered in the UK it was heavenly; relatively well signposted, only a few opportunities to get mown down by a truck and some jolly pleasant green sections highly suitable for a 3.5 year old to dance on his pedals.

Cycling at our #familycycling speed of around 5mph we reached the ferry terminal in plenty of time ready to start the next stage of our adventure, and third mode of transport (our first stage, trying to get two touring bikes/luggage, a child’s bike, a folding trailer and a small child on the train required a great deal of resilience and effective marital communication. I’m pleased to report that no lives, bikes or marriages were lost in the operation).

And so to the Netherlands..

I failed on the whole map thing straight off so we aimlessly cycled out of the ferry terminal and headed towards a motorway sign that said ‘Amsterdam’ on it. We hopped onto the cycle path beside the road and just followed the signs. This is what we found:

Nothing really prepares you for what it’s like to actually cycle here. I’ve seen the photos, read the blog posts and sent the cycle campaigner tweets. Yet the flat, deliciously smooth tarmac, the continual signage, roundabouts where you don’t fear for your life and unbelievably wide paths are magical. It’s only been 12 hours but so far cycling here is like a dream.

I hope it’s all still there tomorrow morning..

3 thoughts on “A tale of (cycling around) two cities

  1. Cool. I’m going to follow this with interest. Seriously contemplating this type of holiday so it will be great reading your first hand experience. Hope you have a fab time. Matt

  2. A few tips for those planning similar:

    From Newcastle Central Station (for the next 18 months until more cycle tracks are built) best route to NCN72 Quayside is:
    https://www.google.co.uk/maps/dir/54.9691245,-1.6163499/54.9656241,-1.6150098/@54.9681404,-1.6141566,458m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m9!4m8!1m5!3m4!1m2!1d-1.6144284!2d54.9686186!3s0x487e70b43eb44fff:0x4e881a24d5fb09a1!1m0!3e2
    [sorry big link, no online mapping works for this route]. This is through tunnel where taxi rank queues via Hanover Street which has the softest gradient down the Tyne Gorge. It is cobbled, but has granite rails in the surface which eases the pain].

    On the IJmuiden side the best way to get away from the big LGV’s around the port is a left and then immediate right (on the correct side of the road!) via KanaalStraat:
    https://www.google.co.uk/maps/dir/52.4625686,4.5870211/Haarlem+Station,+Stationsplein,+Haarlem,+Netherlands/@52.4622181,4.5942987,972m/data=!3m2!1e3!5s0x47c5ef720eb5853b:0x55f0c588cf55dde0!4m14!4m13!1m5!3m4!1m2!1d4.5944468!2d52.4628671!3s0x47c5f1c01597a327:0x91bf16ec606c9217!1m5!1m1!1s0x47c5ef720ec65ba9:0x29a8f27376dfab93!2m2!1d4.638599!2d52.388071!3e1
    [again this may change over the next few years due to a regeneration project. The above route shows directions to Haarlem, via Driehus, both train stations, but if cycling all the way split off to Amsterdam before IJmuiden town centre. If you follow the car signs to Amsterdam you end up on wrong side of dual carriageway with dodgy crossing, or on a long exposed road along the dock with LGV’s. Route through residential area is much nicer].

    In the other direction turn immediately past bike parking over zebra & out of the right hand gate on clearing customs at North Shields, don’t follow the cars:
    https://www.google.co.uk/maps/dir/54.9934538,-1.4519767/Tynemouth/@54.9934022,-1.4514738,119m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m9!4m8!1m0!1m5!1m1!1s0x487e6ebf551299f9:0x6fbd15b5793fbc5d!2m2!1d-1.4255819!2d55.0175869!3e1
    [route to Tynemouth,much nicer than Newcastle 🙂 ]

    Hopefully going to get around to chatting to Newcastle / North Tyneside & Gem Velsen about sorting out the signing this Autumn. In all cases the bigger infrastructure fixes may take longer.

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