Thursday, January 21, 2010

To Den Haag from Leiden via bicycle

I've cycled to and from Den Haag three times now. It's not very far, only about 15 kilometers (9ish miles) and it is very very flat. It is the same distance as my former commute from Brooklyn to the Upper West Side, but with less screaming, swearing and near death. This country is known for fabulous cycling for a reason. It is easy, safe and pleasant. So let me have this one thing to complain about.

Or, "ridiculous meandering detour."

My first two rides to Den Haag were along the N44 route. It's almost a straight shot and only almost because of the omleiding. Here's the route via a screen shot of

Do you see that mess on top of Wassenaar? That's the omleiding.

Up close.

Perhaps I exaggerated the complexity of the omleiding around marker 8, but not much. The detour wound around itself, back and forth, avoiding some streets in favor of others for no apparent reason unless meandering is an expected method of travel. Is it? Is that a Dutch thing? Also, the omleiding led me only 100 meters away from the path where I began it!


However, owing to timidity, obedience and/or an appreciation for the ridiculous, I did follow the large, clear and well appointed omleiding signs four times; both ways on two trips.

By the third trip, I was no longer timid, obedient or ready to laugh. I had followed an entirely different set of signs that led through Wassenaar to Den Haag without having a circuitously return to the N44 route.

I got lost.

A very nice construction worker on the way to a porta potty gave me some directions.

 I did reach my destination as the worker's descriptions of the nearby school, the gas station and the prison were most accurate.
So, on the way back...
My frustration with pointless riding (getting lost=more circles) led me to approach the entrance to the omleiding with skepticism and a bad plan. I rode past the omleiding sign and down to the contruction area that was to be avoided. I "planned" to walk out into the highway, if necessary, for those 100 meters rather than follow the meandering omleiding back and forth and back and forth.

Here, I discovered that the construction zone had a walkway for pedestrians! There was no need for the omleiding!
I afstapp-ed and walked my bike through the red and white barriers.
Did I really need to be ready to risk walking on a highway to discover this?
All of the signs before the construction zone instruct cyclist (fietsers) to take the omleiding! Do cyclists here prefer to take a meandering complicated detour rather than dismount and walk 100 meters?
Or, was I naive to follow the omleiding signs at all? Are they commonly ignored? Are they just gentle suggestions?

I, for one, shall not be so complacent in the future.

Here are some pictures from my ride:

People enjoying the beach at Scheveningen. 

An icy river in the woods while I was lost. The smooth patch is where the snow was cleared for ice skating by someone named SUE.

A giant orange.

A man sitting between the highway and a watery ditch, watching sheep.

A chair floating in the middle of a canal.


  1. really awesome stuff you saw! You crossed a frozen river on bike when lost? crazy!!!

  2. Alicia also crossed a highway exit ramp on a bike and climbed over a fence. She's one tough mofo.