Car-free Amsterdam

Read in Climate Home of 23 June 2016:

Amsterdam is struggling with its crowdedness and popularity, people think the city centre is too busy. Of course they are right. They were never used to live in an urban condition. Politicians try to reduce tourism now, distribute activities, the mayor even proposes to move people to The Hague, Utrecht and Rotterdam. Great times for the Randstad Holland concept. Of course all this will not work. Better study Oslo, Norway, a city that has voted for banning cars from its city centre a few days ago. I read it on Climate Home last week. The Norwegian city centre should be car free by 2019, carbon emissions will be reduced by 50 per cent in 2020, and 95 per cent by 2030. “A key part of the plan is to prioritise pedestrians, bicyclists and public transport before car traffic, both when it comes to investments in infrastructure and the use of space,” Oslo’s vice mayor told Climate Home, the website of UN Environment. You see? Are the Norwegians far ahead of the Dutch, who are more and more lagging behind when it comes to sustainability and quality of life? No one in Amsterdam dares to propose a car free city centre by 2019. Too bold thinking. Biking on a massive scale apparently does not help.

Why Oslo of all cities? I remember a delegation of Oslo politicians and civil servants visiting Amsterdam not too long ago. I was struck by the car-friendly approach and the mild treatment of a car-based infrastructure of the Norwegian capital, with all its tunnels and parking garages, everything for free, a surprising fact which I could only explain by the fact that Norway is rich and a big exporter of gaz and oil. And yes, tunnels make it easy to drive through Oslo. But there was something changing in recent times. In 2015 more than ten tunnels in Oslo were being under repair. The authorities asked the citizens to bike more and make use of public transport. That was the beginning of a change. Now the city thinks that cars should be banned. What has happened? The city has a new left wing government. On 14 September 2015 the Labour party and the Green party were elected, they want to fight climate change. Oslo will become green. There is hope for Amsterdam. The Dutch capital could become lively again. Just get ban the cars from the monumental inner city.






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