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How the Dafne Schippersbrug changes the running routes in Utrecht-West

The Dafne Schippers bridge, a 'bicycle bridge' over the Amsterdam Rhine Canal named after the fastest runner in the Netherlands. The name has been democratically chosen, but if it is a bicycle bridge, we couldn't have named it more logically after the Netherlands' best cyclist; Annemiek van Vleuten? After all, he was born in Vleuten and the bridge was devised for cyclists 'from Vleuten' to Utrecht.

We could solve this problem in two ways. 1: we still change the name to 'Annemiek van Vleuten bridge'. Option 2: We show that it is really just a running bridge. Let's start with option 2,  After all, Dafne has already been invited to the opening on May 13.

How? We collected data from 6000 running routes from widely used mobile running apps (Runkeeper and Endomondo), from running activities in the residential area of  Dafne Schippers (The neighborhoods of Oog in Al, Lombok, Leidsche Rijn and others). We divided those activities into two groups: running activities before the unofficial opening of the bridge (3 April 2017) and running activities after 3 April 2017.

In the latter series of activities, one pattern immediately emerges: the Dafne Schippersbrug is one of the most intensively used roads in western Utrecht!

Intensity of use of running activities in Utrecht-West since opening Dafne Schippersbrug.

Indisputable proof that it is a running bridge after all? You might think that there is a 'curiosity effect' in the first weeks here. In addition, in the short time (3/4 weeks) in which the bridge has been opened, only a limited amount of data from  running activities are collected.  In this case, the image is made up of roughly 150 running activities.

However, if we look at the running behavior before April 3, 2017, it can be explained why the bridge is used so intensively. It is simply an enormously valuable addition to the (running) route possibilities of Utrecht-West.

From Oog in Al (eo), people often walk along the canal road (Merwedekanaal) in the first place and often along the Groenewoudsedijk (Amsterdam-Rhine Canal) in the second place: from 'the yellow bridge' (officially Hogeweidebrug) to the Meernbrug. .

Walking along the water 'from bridge to bridge' is a well-known running phenomenon, waterfronts and bridges are the most intensively used routes in almost all cities in the world. Water provides direction and tranquility, bridges act as target points: intermediate goals that give your route the necessary guidance. In the running apps, runners often save their routes as 'bridge run', from 'bridge to bridge' or 'circle bridges'.

And so the quays of the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal also form a pleasant walking environment. However, the distance between the 'yellow bridge' and the Meernbrug is already approximately 3 kilometers. Anyone who wants to walk this round from home must therefore run at least 6 kilometers. Not every runner is always able or willing to do that, 3 to 5 kilometers is often enough. So a 'bridge too far'.

Intensity of use of running activities in Utrecht-West until opening Dafne Schippersbrug.

This means that the 'short' distance runner from Oog in Al eo is assigned to a limited number of roads that are attractive to walk. This can also be seen in the running behavior of these 'short-distance runners' (running activities up to 5 km) who live in this district east of the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal. Their running routes focus even more on the canal road,  the east side of the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal and the Oog in Al park. So a limited number of attractive route options.

And that is exactly where the Dafne Schippersbrug (we can now use that name) changes: the bridge also makes both sides of the canal accessible for runners who (just like Dafne himself) like to walk shorter laps. It opens up a number of new route alternatives on the canal road, which were very desirable for all runners in this district.

Intensity of use due to running activities with a maximum distance of 5 kilometers, from East Side Amsterdam-Rhine Canal.

Fortunately, the 25 million bicycle bridge turns out to be just a running bridge, so the name turns out to be right. However, such a name also creates obligations: the bridge is only really open when a soft layer of running track tartan has been smeared over the asphalt, combined with a signposted running route and an annual running event across the road.  Dafne Schippersbrug. What's in a name?!

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