Traffic measure in Amsterdam “demolished support”: experts

Some locals protested about the closure. Photo: Yolanda Moleman

The closure of a main road into Amsterdam as a traffic calming measure came to an end on Sunday and experts are divided about the effects, the Parool has reported.

The Weesperstraat, which runs from the ring road to Waterlooplein, was closed to traffic from 6 am to 11 pm for a six-week period.

The so-called knip or cut, was part of a trial to monitor the pros and cons of closing off the busy road permanently in 2025, in an effort to cut down on car travel in the capital.

The measures infuriated tradespeople who got stuck in endless traffic jams and as locals around the Weesperstraat enjoyed the quiet and clean air, others found their neighbourhood clogged up with traffic and mounted a protest.

Six weeks was “more than enough” traffic experts Walther Ploos van Amstel told the paper. He called the measure “ill thought out” and divisive. “Just going in and closing off a main road is going to do more harm than good. Supporters and opponents have been at loggerheads the entire time,” he said.

Christiaan Kwantes, of mobility advisors Goudappel, said the measure didn’t last long enough to establish its real impact. However, he said, he was happy the local council had not abandoned the measure following protests, which included complaints that ambulance services had been hindered in doing their jobs .

“Traffic needs time to adjust. It takes a while before a new balance is found,” he said. “[More time] would have given us more data about how that happens, what happens exactly and where.”


Both traffic experts agreed something needs to be done to discourage traffic in the Dutch capital. “Amsterdam will have 250,000 more inhabitants by 2050 and 200,000 more jobs. That could paralyse both the city and the region,” Ploos van Amstel said.

Kwantes, who called big access roads such as Weesperstraat “a relic from the past” said the future lies with “selective accessibility” for cars.

“In Delft and Amersfoort people who really need to be somewhere because they are moving or need to make a delivery can request a pass, it’s that simple. But if you need to be in the centre every five minutes you will have to pay… it’s only fair,” he said.

“We need to do tackle the city’s hyper mobility,” Ploos van Amstel said. “Over 60% of car journeys are made for no good reason. And that makes it the demolition of support for traffic-calming measures even more serious.”

City officials are expected to publish their evaluation of the scheme in November.

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