May 2, 2010

NETHERLANDS: Wider bicycle paths, fewer cars

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AMSTERDAM, Netherlands / Nieuws Uit Amsterdam / May 2, 2010

The new city administration wants
Amsterdam to remain Europe’s number 1 bicycle city

The area within the A10 ring road will have reduced car traffic and there will be more bicycle stands, waiting time indicators and green waves for cyclists. In addition, there a ‘moped policy’ will be developed. These measures have been announced in the coalition agreement presented last week by PvdA, GroenLinks and VVD.

On behalf of GroenLinks, council member Fjodor Molenaar participated in the negotiations on issues including traffic. Last year, he submitted a policy paper Cyclist King, which argues among other things for a moped policy and for ‘bicycle streets’ where cars are guests. At the time, alderman Hans Gerson responded positively to his proposals. In an email, Molenaar explains the new agreement.

Is it correct that the bicycle plans of the new administration are a confirmation of the former administration’s response to Cyclist King?

“In part, that’s certainly the case. The idea that Amsterdam should remain Cycling City Number 1 and the ambition to create more spacious bicycle paths are the most obvious elements that have been included in the agreement. Also, the notion that the inner city area will be expanded to the area within the A10 and that there should be structurally more room for slow traffic in that area, has survived.”

At the time, a study on creating bicycle streets was announced as well. Will there be such a study?

“On bicycle streets, nothing concrete has been agreed upon, so neither has Gerson’s proposal for a study. The districts take the lead in renovating public space and therefore also in opting for bicycle streets, but an initiative or guideline from the city might activate them. In Westerpark and De Baarsjes, decisions on bicycle streets have already been taken. They are explicitly mentioned in Centrum’s new agreement. Therefore, I expect that bicycle streets will be created in various districts the coming years.”

Instead of a car free day, there will be a large car free zone during major events such as GayPride, the Marathon, Sail or Sinterklaas. Is that a loss or perhaps a victory?

“Of course, GroenLinks would have liked to retain the annual Car Free Day, but VVD and PvdA were against it. I do think that’s a loss. Against that background, the agreement to create a large car free zone during events is a good result. Roads will have to be closed anyway, so a larger car free zone won’t entail any additional financial burden. In my blogpost, I used the events you mention as examples, but the city and the districts will have to reach specific agreements on that.”

A municipal moped policy will be developed; what kind of specific measures can we expect?

“Gerson had promised the city council a new moped policy before the election, but it wasn’t finished in time. The three parties do want such a policy. Traffic safety, clean air and the nuisance mopeds create were explicitly mentioned. The new alderman will submit a proposal to the council specifying which concrete measures to take.”

On a different note: during the campaign, you said a coalition with the right-wing VVD was ‘really improbable’. Now there is such a coalition. What happened?

“This coalition was indeed quite improbable and could only happen because of the twisting of D66 during the negotiations. For GroenLinks, it does feel a bit like marriage of convenience, what doesn’t mean that it can’t turn out to be really effective. In various districts (Centrum, Zeeburg, Oud-West) these parties have taken responsibility for the administration; this should be possible at the municipal level as well. A lot depends on how people get along in the administration and the council, and we’re getting along really well. Finally, the combination PvdA – VVD – GroenLinks has considerable administrative clout, which is no luxury in a time of budget cuts.” [rc]

Photo: FaceMePLS
Source: nieuwsuitamsterdam