Amsterdam, the champion of green mobility
It’s paradise for bike lovers. While other European capitals are clogged with car traffic, Amsterdam gives free rein to cyclists and pedestrians. At rush hour, 29% of Amsterdammers walk to work and 32% hop on a bike. So what is its recipe for success?
Bicycles have become as synonymous with Amsterdam as its flower market, canals and Rijksmuseum. The city boasts nearly one bicycle per resident. But that hasn’t always been the case. In the 1970s, the Dutch capital was flooded with cars and had hit a record level of fatal accidents. Road safety became such a problem that pressure groups made it their number one priority. The authorities acted accordingly, starting with “woonerfs”, or streets where drivers do not automatically have right of way and must instead work around pedestrians and cyclists. And, most importantly, the city set up 400 kilometers of cycle lanes. The initiative has been such a resounding success that more than one in two residents now cycle through Amsterdam every day.
Cars replaced by public transportation
At the same time, city authorities are moving ahead with a policy to reduce car use. Ten thousand parking spaces are set to be removed over the next five years. After London, Amsterdam is now the most expensive city in Europe for parking, at €7.50 an hour in the city center and €6 in the outskirts. These fees are a boon for the city council, which has used the money to invest €400 million in clean trams and buses. And to encourage residents to leave their cars at home, public transportation is now free for under-12s on Wednesdays and on the weekend.
More specifically, Amsterdam authorities are targeting cars with internal combustion engines. By 2030, they will be prohibited from accessing the city center and only electric or hydrogen cars will be allowed on the roads. The streets of Amsterdam are already dotted with no fewer than 2,700 charging stations, but the city plans to set up more, for free, at the homes of residents who buy an electric car. At the national level, the Netherlands plans to install a charging station every 25 kilometers and make electric cars exempt from tolls.
Remote working over commuting
Again with a view to easing congestion in the center, Amsterdam authorities are encouraging remote working with an increase in smart work centers. These large coworking spaces, which are near residential areas and connected to very high-speed Internet, mean that employees don’t have to cross the city to get to the office. By cutting down on commutes, traffic jams have gone down 20%. City statistics show that administrative buildings now take up 40% less space and that employees have gained 20 days’ worth of productivity per year. The measures all bring Amsterdam a little closer to its ambitious target of reaching zero CO2 emissions by 2030. Just one more way in which the city is coming out as the world champion of green mobility.