Upgrading Graafseweg: fewer lanes, more space for cyclists.
De Graafseweg will be undergoing major changes. The stretch from Rozenstraat (just behind the bridge over the rail track) to Wolfskuilseweg goes from four to two lanes. The section from the Wolfskuilseweg to the Cavaljéweg (a line of about 400 meters) remains four-lane, but gets narrower lanes. According to the lord mayor and aldermen, the changes ensure that traffic from outside the city no longer uses the center as a transit route to Arnheim. In the new situation, cyclists also get more space thanks to the construction of a wider cycle path or service road. Work on the Graafseweg will start as soon as the renovation on the Waal bridge is completed. This is estimated at the beginning of 2021. The Commission expects motorists to be on the Graafseweg for a maximum of 15 seconds in the new situation. According to alderman Harriët Tiemens, the redesign of the Graafseweg has many advantages: ,,It will improve road safety and quality of life. The Graafseweg is now sometimes used as a highway. We really have to get rid of that.”
New bicycle crossing
Also new: a bicycle crossing at the Cavaljéweg. This would mean that the current bicycle crossing at the Verbindingsweg, just under a hundred meters away, would be removed. Two years ago a serious accident took place at the Verbindingsweg, in which a 31-year-old cyclist died. Tiemens: ,,The planned adjustment also has everything to do with safety. The Connection Road is not a logical place for cyclists to cross.” The narrowing means that there will be room to construct a wider cycle path or even a service road on the residents’ side of the Graafseweg. That happens in consultation with the residents, says Tiemens: “They have the best view of that.” The number of lanes remains intact between Wolfskuilseweg and Cavaljéweg. “If we remove lanes there, there is a chance that nearby roads will be used as shortcuts and become overloaded.”
Previous work on the Graafseweg
In 2017, the section between Keizer Karelplein and Rozenstraat was already reduced from four to two lanes. Research has since shown that the effects of this on car traffic are minimal. According to the city council, the layout of the Graafseweg is still largely the same as in the seventies of the last century, when it was considered an important route between the north and south of the Netherlands. With the arrival of the A50 in 1976 and the construction of the bridge “The Crossing” in 2013, the Graafseweg no longer has that function. A narrowing is therefore only logical, according to the commission. GroenLinks, the largest party in the Nijmegen city council, also believes that changes to the Graafseweg are necessary. “There are reports of motorists driving 114 kilometers per hour on the Graafseweg,” says councilor Quirijn Lokker. ,,The redesign greatly increases the quality of life for local residents. There are hardly any disadvantages for motorists.”
Criticism from opposition and coalition party SP
Not everyone agrees with this: the Nijmegen groups from the VVD, Stadspartij DNF and VoorNijmegen, among others, have always strongly opposed a narrowing. That is no different now. “An idiotic plan,” says Maarten Bakker (VVD). “Why should bicycle paths be widened there? I have never heard of bicycle jams on Graafseweg. And liveability can also be increased without lanes disappearing. For example, consider extra green spaces along the road.” Finally Bakker finds changes to the Graafseweg premature: ,,Why don’t we wait until the s100 (route over Energieweg and The Crossing) flows through properly before we even start thinking about these kinds of things?” coalition partner SP is critical. “First I want to get all the facts right,” says SP leader Hans van Hooft. ,,What does an adjustment to the Graafseweg mean for the surrounding neighborhoods? On what does the alderman base the 15-second delay? If I am honest, I see few clues for this plan at the moment.”