A new cycle bridge has been opened near the village of Berlicum over the Zuid-Willemsvaart (South Willem’s Canal). It not only offers a shorter route to the nearby village of Den Dungen, but also a faster and more convenient new cycle connection with the town of Veghel and the city of ʼs-Hertogenbosch.
The canal was dug almost 200 years ago, from 1822 to 1825, as an alternative and shorter route to the river Maas. The villages of Berlicum and Den Dungen had been separated from then on, because there was never a bridge at this location. There had been a ferry in the past, but that never prospered. There are two bridges south and north, but they are almost 4 kilometres apart. That meant that even though the two village centres are very close (about 2.3 kilometres, as the crow flies), the shortest cycle route was no less than 5.3 kilometres long. With the new bridge, that has decreased to 4.7 kilometres. Still an unacceptable long detour, according to the Cyclists’ Union. To do something about that, they proposed the most logical shortcut, starting at the base of the access ramp to the new bridge, to the closest road south (the green line on the map). This turned out to be impossible to build. The field the green line would cross is a protected nature reserve in the old river branch of the river Aa, that used to flow here before the canal was dug. But another shortcut was in study, the red line on the map. The council of Sint-Michielsgestel unanimously voted to build this shortcut in January 2015. Once it is built, it will shorten the total cycling distance between the villages with another kilometre to 3.7 kilometres. Especially children from Den Dungen, who go to schools in Berlicum, will benefit a lot from this in the end alost 1.6 kilometre (1 mile) shorter cycle route, thanks to the new bridge and the shortcut.