A taxi is looking for a good place to stop in vain. He has to park on the pavement. A pedestrian, hunched over a city map, is scared by him, steps aside and is just about to be attacked by a passing scooter.
This is the Haarlemmerdijk in Amsterdam, in elections becoming listed as one of the nicest shopping streets of Netherlands. It is a narrow street and everything pinches itself through it.
For cyclists it is a major route, on the sidewalk are walking shoppers, cars driving in one direction. This weekday afternoon on four places vans are unloading, and the street is blokked.
What is happening here, is characteristic for Amsterdam. It is getting busier in the city: more residents, more commuters, more tourists. But the town is tight and that leads to bottlenecks in traffic. Not infrequently trams and cars and cyclists and pedestrians have to move through one street and that’s a big problem.
Councillor Pieter Litjens made plans to resolve these bottlenecks. Cyclists and pedestrians in the inner city should get more space, he says. Cars must give way.
In recent years the Amsterdammers are using their car less often; they take the bike or start walking. But that trend may not prevent traffic crashes, if only because cars also still occupy space. Litjens would therefore like to include eight additional underground parking garages.
He also wants the many residents who entice their car but rarely use it let them park their car at a low parking fee, on the outskirts of the city. All in all, the Alderman wants in the tight city to clear an area of the size of 20 football pitches free from cars.
Less stationary cars
Some streets are car-scarce or car-free. Here and there, the maximum speed goes down to 20 miles per hour, so the different types of traffic can react smoother to each other.
But bullying cars? This criticism is misplaced, says Litjens finally. “Who must be in the town, can get there. That continues to be so. And who finds a parking spot will be faster, underground. “
Litjens would also not only get rid of the stationary cars, but also of almost stationary cars. On a number of main roads there are cars now get an average speed of ten miles per hour. “Also thereby cars are taking more space than necessary,” said Litjens. Including better tuned traffic lights he wants to improve the flow. Some measures can be taken ‘ tomorrow ‘, says Litjens, other require more time. If everything will be realized, it will cost 400 million euros. In the long term, that’s not enough to keep up with the growth of the city, he recognizes. “We stop not thinking about the future.” The situation on the Haarlemmerdijk starts already this summer. Two-thirds of the parking spaces shall be deleted. Later on, the street will be car-free and cyclists will be redirected. Two bridges have to be built.
Buses will be cleaner
In ten years time the buses of the Amsterdam public transport firm CFP will drive without harmful emissions. That is agreed by the alderman of sustainability Abdeluheb Calcutt (D66) and the Deputy Mayor of CFP Board. Already in the next three years the first of the two hundred diesel buses will be replaced by electric buses. The trams and metros of the CFP drive all on green power and now is also examined whether the ferries can operate cleaner.
The municipality will invest 1 million euros to the purchase of clean buses.