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Main Network Emission Free Routes

Main Network Emission Free Routes



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Published by: Pascal van den Noort on Nov 22, 2007
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Main Network for Emission Free Trafficin Amsterdam
Amsterdam never used cycling and cycling planning as a means of cleaning the air in thecity. European measures now oblige Amsterdam to act. With the introduction of a MainNetwork for Emission Free Traffic, modes of transport that do not emit, like electric cars,bike taxis and bicycles, will get an improved and much wider space to move fast in thecity. As a consequence car lanes will have to be taken out to allow for emission free lanesto be built.The Main Network for Emission Free Traffic stands in the tradition on the Main Networkfor cars, the Main Network for public transport and the Main Network for bicycles.Velo Mondial volunteered to develop these plans for Amsterdam and will promote itsimplementation.
1. The development of bicycle use in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is a city particularly suited to the bicycle. In particular, the physical structure(the compact semi-circular form), the absence of any great variation in height and themany bridges make cycling a very convenient form of transport. Throughout the first halfof the twentieth century, the bicycle was the primary means of transport, both fortraveling to and from work and for social and recreational purposes. Until 1955, theproportion of journeys undertaken by bicycle remained extremely high, at over seventy-five per cent. Thereafter, the bicycle's share declined, as a result of increased prosperityand the resultant growth in car ownership. Furthermore, Amsterdam expandedconsiderably in the late 1950s and 1960s.Many residents chose to move to the outer suburbs or to other cities altogether. The carenabled them to commute the greater distances involved, while those greater distancesand longer journey times made the bicycle a far less attractive option.The rapid increase in car traffic, especially in the 1960s, caused serious congestion in thecity centre. Amsterdam soon proved to be less suitable for intensive motorized traffic.Many roads were too narrow and it was impossible to ensure efficient through flows oftraffic at many junctions. Businesses moved to the fringes of the city and into the greaterAmsterdam region. Employment in the city centre and the harbor districts declined.The 'suburbanization' of the previous years continued. This led to further shifts incommuting patterns and the distances involved, whereby car ownership and usage onceagain rose significantly, with a proportional decrease in bicycle use.The City's policy plans aimed to improve accessibility through investments in publictransport, to include the construction of a metro network. Bicycle use was to beencouraged, discouraging car use at the same time. In the 1960s, the parking problem
developed into the main traffic issue: should the city adapt itself to accommodatemotorized transport, or should it consciously avoid doing so? Use of the bicyclecontinued to decline, reaching a low point in the 1970s with fewer than 25 % of all journeys being made on two wheels.In response to the strong growth in motorized traffic and the associated congestion, thereappraisal of the bicycle started. Local actors like neighborhood committees, Provo andthe Cyclists' Federation once again made the public aware of the bicycle and itspossibilities. In a desire to conserve the historic centre of the city, these inspired groupslaunched a variety of campaigns and demonstrations designed to make the city authorityand policy-makers think again about separating traffic flows, or conversely, combiningtraffic flows.Alongside the traditional acceptance of the bicycle, its image enjoyed a further boost as anenvironmentally friendly, healthy means of transport which does not demand muchspace and which helps to improve urban accessibility. Unlike the Swiss city of Basle,Amsterdam has never had a strong and active pro-car lobby.In 1978, a new City Council took office. It opted to conserve the cultural and historicvalue of the city centre and to encourage the use of the bicycle and public transport. Soonmeasures to encourage the use of the bicycle were taken. These included the constructionof a 'Main Bicycle Network', the improvement and expansion of facilities for cyclists, andthe removal of physical obstacles within the cycling infrastructure.The Main Bicycle network is a finely meshed system of cycle routes between majorresidential districts, employment areas and the city centre, usually along the quieterroads.The routes of the network were chosen with the requirements of comfort, road safety andsocial safety in mind.In the 1980s, a working party was set up to oversee the realization of the cycleinfrastructure.In addition to city officials, the group included representatives of the Cyclists' Federation.An additional annual budget was made available to help resolve problems. In the 1990s,the City Authority continued to put extra amenities for cyclists into place, including someoutside the Main Bicycle Network itself, such as storage facilities at railway and metrostations.
2. Current situation and future policy
Today, Amsterdam has a population of approximately 750,000. There is a high rate ofcycle ownership among adults over twelve, at around eighty per cent. This is due to suchinfluences as the introduction of paid parking in large parts of the city, whereby thebicycle is once again seen as an attractive alternative to the car for short distance trips.
Modal split: 37% bicycle, 22% public transport, 41% car (1990: 30% - 27% -43%) 
75% of all Amsterdammers (> 12 years) own a bicycle
50% of all Amsterdammers (> 12 years) cycle daily
Bicycles are used for commuting to work, shopping, school etc.
Majority of Amsterdam cyclists: 25 – 55 years old; well-educated; higherincomeThese statistics have changed very little since 1980. The number of journeys made bybicycle is greatest in the city centre and in the pre-war districts. Although the policyadopted has certainly contributed to the renewed popularity of the bicycle in the city,there remain a number of problems. These include:-
too few storage/parking facilities;-
the nuisance caused by bicycles parked in public areas (including the eyesorefactor);-
bicycle theft;-
low use of the bicycle among the ethnic minorities;-
too much time spent waiting at traffic lights;-
lack of road safety.The main objective of the City's traffic and transport policy is to improve accessibility andthe quality of life in Amsterdam.Amsterdam will follow a number of spearheads with regard to cycling policy, boilingdown to:
Encouraging switching from car to bicycle.
The City wishes to restrict all unnecessary traffic. The bicycle should be used morefrequently than the car for all short distances, that is to say five to ten kilometers. Notonly will this result in less environmental impact, it will also aid the flow of throughtraffic and will safeguard accessibility for essential traffic such as goods transport.Appropriate measures are to be taken, including the completion, improvement andexpansion of the Main Bicycle Network, and the construction of a second 'Core BicycleNetwork'.This new network will be different from the first in that it will provide fast routes formedium-distance journeys (minimum of seven kilometers) on which the cyclist haspriority. For example, cyclists will have right of way at traffic lights, guaranteeingefficient through flow.It also aims to improve the air quality in Amsterdam, since it will replace car trips bymodes of transport that do not have emission, and by replacing car lanes by ‘NonEmission Lanes’.This emission free network will be different from the existing networks for car,public transport end bicycles. It will provide fast free-flow routes for short and

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