After the closure of the Limburg coal mines, recreational cycle tourism was one of the solutions for getting Limburg back on its feet economically. To this end, from 1995 onwards, a cycle node network was developed. Limburg became a pioneer. In 2023 the province has created 2.000 km in touristic cycle paths. In order to retain our leading position, we not only continue to invest in the quality and maintenance of the network. We also continue to innovate by creating better kilometres. After all, tourists are seeking experiences. That is why Visit Limburg since 2016 has been creating another layer on the existing network with unique cycling experience: ‘Cycling Synergy’, a strategy whereby unique cycling experiences allow visitors to enjoy Limburg’s landscapes in a new way.
As a public infrastructure, the bicycle bridge explores the stratification that a bridge construction can absorb and breaks the boundaries between architecture, landscape construction, scenography and civil engineering. The bridge's integration and architecture deal carefully with a number of social and cultural challenges. The design of the bridge refers to historical typologies of tourist infrastructure (pier, picket fences) and bridge constructions (trestle bridge). The choice of materials is linked to the cultural-historical landscape in which coniferous wood was planted en masse to meet the demand for mining wood. The construction method of the bridge focuses on rhythm, small spans and prefab elements. This enhances the image but also the coordination with the surrounding landscape.
The entire building process was completed with absolute respect for the flora and fauna. This region for example offers a habitat for the smooth snake. The migration of the smooth snake was taken into account in the design. The foundations are not laid in one long foundation beam, but on individual footings. Black asphalt was replaced with grey concrete which heats up less quickly, to avoid encouraging the smooth snake onto the path to sunbathe.
The reduction of the road surface under the bridge ensures that a zone of 3.700 m² is once again part of the ecological landscape.
Prizes obtained: International Design Award 2022 (arches, bridges, viaducts and gateways), Landezine 2022 Special, Jury Award, FSC Project Awards 2021.
The project Cycling through the Heathland is a cycling experience route in which the defragmentation is coupled with a new unique way to experience the National Park with respect to its fauna and flora.
The project consists of four parts:
1. The road was closed for road traffic and transformed to a bicycle path.
2. The original bridge over the national road was transformed to a via eco-veloduct.
3. the building of a cycle bridge and completion of the missing link to insert the
new experience in the existing bicycle network.
4. the reduction of the road surface underneath the cycle bridge ensures that a zone of 3.700 m² is once again part of the ecological landscape.
The highlight of 'Cycling through the Heathland' is a 300 metres long bicycle bridge. In addition to a safe intersection with the road, the concept, integration and architecture of the bridge focuses on the experience of its users, on the bridge as an object in the landscape and on the ecological sensitivities of the area.
The bridge design offers a unique view of the heathland and, with the high walls, builds a tension in the runup to it. Due to this changing experience, the bridge as a whole becomes an experience object. The bridge is also conceived as a tourist-recreational object on the border between the dense forest and the open heath. As a strong whole, it is an icon and landmark for the Hoge Kempen National Park, cycling tourism in Limburg and the mining past (through the use of local coniferous wood).
The cycling experiences in Limburg are part of Visit Limburg's Cycling Synergy experience programme. In addition to 'Cycling through the Heathland' in the Hoge Kempen National Park, there is also 'Cycling through the Water' in Bokrijk and 'Cycling through the Trees' in Bosland. The future cycling experiences 'Cycling Underground', the Fruit Trail in the south of Limburg and the Mine Trail are also being developed within this programme.
Visit Limburg shares its knowledge with and builds bridges between all tourism partners and 42 cities and municipalities in the province of Limburg. Through cooperation, we are continuously developing Limburg as a professional and hospitable destination. A destination that is worth visiting all year round, by tourists and Limburgers alike. More and better tourism in Limburg and more well-being and prosperity for the Limburg population: that is the ambition that Visit Limburg wants to fulfil together with its partners.
Cycling trough the Heathland was initiated by Visit Limburg as part of the ‘Cycling Synergy Strategy'. A distinctive identity and strategy in cycling tourism, that aims to take visitors out in the landscape and create high level experiences around both the unique natural and cultural/industrial heritage of the province.