We’ve downloaded a navigation app called ‘FIETS’ (that’s Dutch for ‘bike’) onto Mevrouw T’s iPad. It cost EUR2.99, and does the job even without 3G, which we’re too stingy to buy. The system is in Dutch, but not hard to operate and I think it’s excellent value.
Here’s how it works…The Netherlands is covered with a network of recreational cycling routes, marked by a system of ‘knooppunten’. Knooppunten (junctions, literally ‘knot-points’) are numbered signs, some with maps of the immediate area.
At intersections or forks in the route, arrows indicate the way to the next knooppunt.
Our app is simply a map of the Netherlands, showing the knooppunten. We can tap in our preferred route from knot-point to knot-point and enter it into the iPad.
Then it’s simply a matter of following either the list of numbers…
…or the map with the route drawn in.
Hard copy paper maps of the network have been available for some time, but many of these are unfortunately not detailed enough to help with specific street names.
There are some limitations to the system.
(1) Since the network is designed for recreational cycling rather than commuting, FIETS automatically sends us along the most scenic, bike-friendly route. This may be a plus much of the time, but not if we’re looking for the shortest route to escape from the rain.
(2) There are places in the Netherlands, particularly within larger towns, not considered scenic enough to justify inclusion on the knot-point network. I’m thinking of you, Lelystad! In such places we need to rely on the FIETS maps.
(3) If we stray from the path there is no Homer Simpson voice telling us off (as is available with the TomTom GPS, naturally at a much higher price), but if we think we’ve taken a wrong turn we can zoom in on the detailed FIETS map.
(4) If we drop a paper map on a cycle path, it may get muddy. If we drop a brand new iPad2 on a cycle path…
Fiets is published by ANWB, the Dutch motorists’ association. We’re impressed that in this country the same organisation represents both motorists and cyclists; they’re not seen as natural enemies!
All in all, an excellent system. Is it available in other countries yet? It should be!