This project presents an alternative bicycle route between the center of Amsterdam and the north, currently only connected by overcrowded ferries that cross the IJ channel.

The ferry to Noord has been overcrowded for years. Expensive plans for bicycle bridges, new tunnels and even cable cars are being made. However, there is already a tunnel under the IJ (the IJtunnel), which can be easily converted into a bicycle-vehicle tunnel. A simple, affordable solution that delivers many benefits for the city: The IJfietstunnel.

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New connections across the IJ, such as the Oostveer, have been successful since their opening. Amsterdam-Noord is developing rapidly. Thousands of homes (and all the associated facilities) are still being built along the northern banks of the IJ. Although increasing ferries is not a structural solution, a bridge is comparatively more difficult and expensive. A quick solution is not only important for bicycle traffic, but also for the air quality of the city.

A dream or a logical step?

The ferry is convenient and attractive, but can hardly cope with the demand. Plans exist for a new metro line in two years' time. Unfortunately, Amsterdam's most popular means of transport - the bicycle - cannot be used to go there. A bicycle bridge or cable car would offer a rather iconic solution to this problem. But how would these large constructions connect to the historic city center? Conversely, a cycling route under the IJ- could this be the perfect solution? Cheaper, comfortable and reliable, and can be realized faster...

We propose an IJtunnel that processes less car traffic and thus offers space for bicycles. Car traffic through the IJtunnel has been declining for years. The Noordzuidlijn will open in two years' time, removing the need for intensive bus traffic between Noord and Central Station. This creates space to concentrate car traffic in one tunnel section, and open the other for bicycles.

Realistic and affordable
Using existing infrastructure is much cheaper and quicker than building a new tunnel, bridge or cablecar. It is also dry, comfortable and reliable. It is also not uncommon: for instance, in the Alps, two-directional travel in a single tunnel are common. An alternative solution is to give cyclists the right lane and cars the left. From the perspective of comfort, health and safety, we propose that only electric vehicles may be allowed to drive through the IJtunnel in such a solution.

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Unlock new areas
Cyclists are much more agile than cars. In order to provide better access to both the North-side as well as places like the naval area, we are installing extra openings in the tunnel. These new entrances would provide a perfect connection to the main bicycle routes and bring activity to places that will become increasingly important in the city in the upcoming years. It also makes ascending and descending easier for people who do not like cycling up the slope.

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Rijkspassage & IJpassage

The IJfietstunnel is not just any tunnel. Cycling, walking or running through it is an experience you will not forget easily. No long pipeline or concrete and flourescent tubelighting, but rather a world of variety. Dynamic LED lighting, vegetation, changing exhibits and music create a variety of atmospheres that make the ride under the water different every day. It will be an international showcase for underground interior architecture. An 'IJpassage' is a nod to the Rijkspassage, by being a gateway to the North as the latter is to the South.

The advantages of the IJfietstunnel at a glance

  • No more waiting for the ferry- instead cross the IJ dry, and windlessly.
  • A world icon for underfround infrastructure, possibly comparable to the Rijkspassage.
  • Creation of lively bicycle junctions at the entrances (IJplein, Oosterdok, Hannekes Boom).
  • Unique opportunity to repair the historic damage caused by the interventions to reduce traffic from the 1960s (‘Wibautas’) between Weesperplein and Prins Hendrikkade.
  • Perfect link between main cycling routes (along Noordhollands Kanaal and Amstel).
  • Nice and fast down the slope. Can use the roller track for the climb back.
  • Solves the air quality problems at the Prins Hendrikkade.
  • Requiring an investment of an estimated 25 million euros, it is most likely cheaper than a bicycle bridge.

About the initiators

The IJfietstunnel is an initiative of Stadsstromen and Except Integrated Sustainability. Both companies are actively committed to creating a sustainable city. The reuse of existing infrastructure and the promotion of bicyles both support this mission. Thus the two companies are joining forces to realise the IJfietstunnel together.

Jan. 29, 2015

Project team

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