Cyclists in Holland have always had a wide variety of cycle maps to choose from. When the numbered cycle network was introduced, yet another type of map came on the market: the numbered cycle network map (knooppuntenkaart). What is a numbered cycle network map and how does it compare to a regular cycle map?
Helping a lost cyclists who has strayed off the numbered cycle network. Photo © Holland-Cycling.com
As the name suggests, a numbered cycle network map gives you an overview of the numbered cycle network and the national long-distance routes (LF-routes), which follow this network. The maps are very basic and give little topographical or touristic information besides the network. This makes them easy to read and popular with recreational cyclists who only want to follow the signposted routes. The downside is that as soon as you take a different turn and leave the network, you need to be a damned good map reader to find your way.
Straying off the network
A numbered cycle network map does not give detailed information. Photo © Holland-Cycling.com
So how big is the chance you might stray off the network during your trip? Actually, it is bigger than you’d think. Your starting or finishing point will rarely be on the network, sometimes signposts go missing (or you overlook one by mistake), roads might be closed due to road works or other events, or you might simply want to take a more direct route home.
As soon as you leave the network you’re better off with a regular cycle map, that not only gives you the numbered cycle network, but also all the other roads. Regular maps will give you extra tourist information which might be useful, e.g. campsites and hotels, bike rental places and other practical things.
Numbered cycle network maps are only of use if you want to strictly follow the numbered cycle network and the LF-routes. As soon as you deviate from the network - intentionally or unintentionally (in other words when you’re lost and need your map most!) - you’re better off with a regular cycle map.
The scale and size of regular and cycle network maps are very much the same. The only reason to choose a numbered cycle network map would be the price - they are a couple euros cheaper than regular maps. However, if you’re on a tight budget and you're not staying in one area, we recommend getting one of the cycle atlases of Holland. Depending on the number of maps you need, it’s a cheaper option and the maps are similar to regular cycle maps.