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Regional vision Exercise routes Ringpark Utrecht

Commissioned by the Province of Utrecht (Ringpark Utrecht and the steering committee for recreation around the city), Track-Landscapes created a vision of the future for exercise routes in the Utrecht region. As a basis, we mapped the exercise behavior of 500,000 exercise activities, originating from the exercise app Endomondo. This is mainly data from recreational users such as walkers, runners, sport-recreational cyclists, mountain bikers and inline skaters, but also, for example, (100,000) utilitarian cycling activities.

From data to design

We were asked to draw up a regional vision with broader future ambitions, as well as very concrete, feasible proposals for new or improved paths, bridges, accesses, signs, facilities or (faces) views. And then having insight into the use of all paths and roads in an entire region is useful. It offers a look at regional distributions in use, and at the same time an indication of the functioning of each small footpath or cycle path within it. We drew up six 'movements' in which more than 60 concrete interventions were proposed.

Download Link complete report Track-Landscapes

Client: Province of Utrecht

Date trajectory: 2020-01 <-> 2020-10

Project status: The Province of Utrecht has published TRACK's research as part of the 'Recreation around the city' programme. The possibilities of a joint Utrecht Buiten implementation program are now being explored.  
Various route proposals have now been included in the regional bicycle future of the Province of Utrecht.

1. Landscape within walking distance.


With 440 million activities per year, walking remains by far the most frequently undertaken leisure activity in the Netherlands (Tourism and Leisure Trend Report 2016). Running (again from the front door) is also increasing strongly with approximately 100 million activities per year. 'Accessibility' is already in the activity itself, in theory all it takes is time and shoes. About 70% of the walks start from home; this requires a strong connection between inner and outer greenery and a fine mesh of attractive paths. And the way in which people move on foot from various urban centers shows that in practice this is not yet so 'pre-emptive'. Various urban green areas are not yet reached on foot because the density of paths is too small, barriers block the way, or accessibility is not clearly indicated. The floodplains above Vianen, for example, appear to be used to a limited extent. The area is accessible, but this is invisible from the various dike entrances. A few signposts or area maps can already substantially change this.  

2. Go with the flow.  

Rivers and canals are ideal radial lines of movement for cyclists and pedestrians, from deep in the city to far into the countryside. Think of them as elongated parks towards more distant landscapes. But we don't take their potential as a movement line seriously enough yet. Many cycle routes along waterlines are in poor condition, cumbersome in form and incomplete. The consequences for the extent to which they are used are clearly visible in the route choices of sporty cyclists. They are literally and figuratively ignored on various routes.


Certainly along the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal towards the Lek, and on the west side of the Vecht, there are opportunities to improve routes 'with the flow'.

3. Beautiful (and) fast (cycle routes)


The (electric) range of the utilitarian cyclist is increasing; movement from one residential core to another residential core automatically requires faster cycling routes through the intervening landscapes. Is that just as convenient; the intended 'undisturbed' of fast cycle routes is just as much an attractive feature for recreational cyclists. In addition, fast bicycle routes along the track at Utrecht-Woerden, Utrecht-Bilthoven and Utrecht-Driebergen Zeist, would provide more route detail in areas where this is desirable. Make the routes beautiful, with beautiful flower verges, avenues and views along them. Also make sure that they are pleasant to walk on and even skateable. Consider them as wide, continuous 'parkways' and not just as a (bicycle) highway. Conversely, there are numerous natural route routes (often along waterfronts) that can form an attractive alternative in terms of environment for already intended fast bicycle routes. Commuters also want a choice of fast and green routes. Take for example the 'Dokter Welfferpad' north of the Noorderpark; by transforming this path into a cycle path, a much greener (and almost as fast) alternative will be created between Utrecht and Hilversum on the route along the railway and the highway (Kon. Wilhelminalaan). Together with the routes along the water, a network of routes can be created that are both beautiful and fast.  

4.  A scenic ring park


Take the geomorphology and characteristic landscape units around Utrecht as a starting point for green developments and collaborations. Although this sounds obvious, administrative, municipal, planning, infrastructural or property boundaries are now often decisive. The user of the landscape is not interested in those borders; he recognizes and uses areas for the unique properties and qualities that the different types of landscapes in the region have. We distinguish five landscapes (other divisions can also be defended): the Heuvelrugflank, Low Lines, the Floodplains, a Weidser area in the West and the Vechtstreek which turns into Veenweide. In the Heuvelrugflank, for example, many estates are not yet well found by walkers, runners or cyclists. Although individually accessible, many routes are not yet through, recognizable or attractive. Connect the destinations in the Heuvelrugflank to each other, routes become connections and the recognizability of an area increases.


5. A ring of motion routes


Sport is becoming an increasingly important part of recreation. Cyclists, runners and walkers take advantage of almost all the trails and roads the region has to offer. Inline skating, on the other hand, is less spread out. In the Endomondo GPS data from inline skaters, the Lint Leidsche Rijn was passed about ten times more often than the 'most used' inline skate routes in other parts of the region. The Lint is also one of the most used routes in the region by runners, walkers and recreational cyclists. This will (partly) be a result of the demography of Leidsche Rijn, but the moving effect of this explicitly designed exercise path feels evident on the spot. In various other places you could make specially designed movement rounds, with similar properties to the Lint Leidsche Rijn: a wide, recognizable path of smooth asphalt, without sharp bends, with distance markings, with space for pedestrians, no car traffic and always safe right of way with regard to intersections. with motorways. These are the ingredients of a strong movement round for inline skaters, runners, cyclists and walkers. The width of the path ignores what is 'necessity'. Sport and recreation is fun, that's what an abundance of space gives. In the Noorderpark, for example, the narrow paths deserve an upgrade anyway. A movement ribbon could give unity to fragmented green areas such as these, well-paved connections to surrounding cities are also important.


6. Stations as Outer Gates.  ​

The Utrecht region has an intricate network of NS stations. The railway lines are direct exit routes to the landscapes outside. Using stations as a starting point for walking routes works. This is apparent from the Endomondo data, which makes it clear that Driebergen-Zeist (in the past set up as a starting point for experiencing nature) is often used as a starting point for walking routes. It is also apparent from the popularity of the NS walking routes, the most popular of which are invariably located in the province of Utrecht. The Utrecht stations that are conveniently located in relation to the landscape must also radiate that and offer the facilities and information. At the best located stations, the landscape can even become visible through a natural appearance and logical orientation on attractive paths and squares towards the green. For example, at Vleuten station, near Haarzuilens, this is missing. Routes from the station via the landscape to the next station can be explained via online route planners, a complete network of NS routes can be created around Utrecht!  


Curious about more plans and proposals we have made for Ringpark Utrecht? Through this link:  x      the full report can be downloaded. It sets out 70 targeted improvements to exercise routes in the Utrecht region. All analyzes of the Endomondo exercise data have also been documented and can be downloaded via:

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