Directing traffic

Apart from football, nothing seems to be more guaranteed to gather newspaper headlines in Holland than articles about traffic jams.

So now that the Dutch football team is home to lick its wounds, the orange bunting is being taken down and Albert Heijn is wondering what to do with all the left over mascots, it is just as well we have a new traffic story to occupy us all.
This time transport minister Camiel Eurlings has told MPs he may abandon the much-criticised 80 kph zones on Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Utrecht’s ring roads because they are leading to more traffic jams.
The zones were introduced because of worries about pollution – by making motorists drive more slowly, nasty emissions are reduced. Shortly after Eurlings broke the news, Amsterdam city council announced that it wants to turn the capital’s entire ring road into an 80 kph zone because the speed reduction leads to cleaner air.
The 80 kph debate goes to the heart of the Netherlands’ entire transport policy. Traffic jams are bad for the economy, petrol fumes are bad for people.
But what those who want to force us all to drive slower should not forget is that cars which are stuck on a highway with their motors running or stopping and starting in slow-moving traffic are not only bad for the economy, but polluting as well.

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