Cars could be banned from two busy central Amsterdam streets
Just over a year ago, the city of Amsterdam temporarily banned cars from driving on Spuistraat, Haarlemmerdijk, and Haarlemmerstraat. Now, the Centrum district of the city is interested in cementing the priority enjoyed by bicyclists and pedestrians, AT5 and NH Nieuws reported.
In plans presented by the city district committee, bicyclists will remain on the main road in the Spuistraat and cars will completely disappear from the picture on the Haarlemmerdijk and Haarlemmerstraat. A goal is to continue giving more space to pedestrians.
The city district committee saw the need for change on the Spuistraat after recurring collisions and conflicts between pedestrians looking to maintain 1.5 meters of distance on the sidewalks, and cyclists advancing on the adjacent bicycle paths. The municipality ordered cyclists off the bike paths and onto the road in September 2020 to give pedestrians the space needed to promote social distancing.
Few residents want to return to the old situation, the broadcasters said based on documents from district committee. "The busier and busier bicycle path is no longer seen as positive and adding to the quality of life," one document stated.
The committee proposed removing the bicycle paths permanently, thus expanding the sidewalks, and putting cyclists on the roadway for good. Should cars be welcomed back on the road, they will have to give priority to bicyclists, like on several other city center streets. The district committee hopes the move will indefinitely lower the chance of future incidents. Signs on the road will mark the cyclists' priority over cars.
When the municipality first made the Haarlemmerdijk largely car-free last year, residents of the street took the matter to court. The judge ruled at the time that as long as coronavirus measures are in place, cars will only be allowed in from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. to load and unload. A year later, it turns out many residents want to keep the changes, the broadcasters said. Of the dozens of residents surveyed, around 77 percent want to maintain the rules permanently.
Sixty percent of business owners were in favor of maintaining the rules. When parking spaces were removed from the street, many businesses were able to take the opportunity to expand terraces.
The city district committee will discuss the plans in the upcoming meeting on Tuesday.