Time for more holiday snaps now!
For some reason, crossing a border seems like it should be and exciting event. Perhaps it’s because most of us live far from a border of any sort. Although I live close to the anti-cycling wastelands of Westminster, the actual border isn’t marked in any way – perhaps there should be a cycle-and-crossbones sign.
While in Maastricht recently, the lure of crossing the border into Belgium got the better of us and we rode out to see it. (The lure of crossing the border into Germany was also present, but more on that later in another post.)
The border itself is a bit of a let down – the Netherlands and Belgium removed their border controls in 1970 so there’s not much to see – but I did find something interesting on the ground. Can you see what it is?
The change isn’t always as stark as this. In some places the cycling facilities fizzle out before the border, probably in the knowledge that no sane Dutchman is going to ride across it. And in other places the cycling facilities continue some way across the border. But in some locations the difference is even more striking:
The two photos above are taken from the same location, but pointing in different directions, and the difference couldn’t be more stark. I think this road is so wide because it was once a border crossing point, but while the Netherlands has made it a pleasant and safe environment, Belgium has instead decided to utilise the space to use up their surplus road paint supply.
Note how the generous two-way separate cycle path in the Netherlands (which you can see on the left of the top photo) becomes a narrow painted lane at the edge of the road in Belgium. Follow the road further south and you’ll see that the narrow painted lane is all you’ll get.
There’s also another one-way cycle path in the top photo, on the other side of the road, to allow northbound cyclists safe access to the two-way cycle path, and to provide access to the waterside.
Here’s another location:
Again, good quality separated cycle paths turn into narrow painted lanes at the border.
Is there a point to this post? I don’t think so, other than that I thought readers of this blog might find it interesting. And because I love the Netherlands! (Belgium will have to work harder to win my love.)