A plan to restrict access to western parts of Amsterdam by closing off bridges and some roads to cars in the centre of the city with metal posts has been called off after just 10 days, following talks between the council and emergency services.
The “Palenplan” scheme, which was to run for a year, is preventing emergency services from getting to incidents in time. In one case firefighters took over 10 minutes to unlock the posts before they could get to an incident on Brouwersgracht.
Locals too have been protesting against the plan, saying the traffic deviation scheme is causing dangerous situations at a nearby primary school and stopping tradesmen from doing their jobs.
“It could have been a real emergency and we are standing here buggering about with the posts. People could be hanging from the window sills by their fingernails. If this continues people will die,” the Parool quoted one of the firefighters as saying.
According to city centre councillor Mischa Mos, no emergency service arrival times had been exceeded but that the plan had not been coordinated well with the emergency services and would be suspended.
The palenplan is part of a number of controversial traffic calming measures in the capital initiated by city traffic chief Melanie van der Horst. The so-called “knip”, which cut off a main artery into the city to reduce traffic nuisance caused outrage and long traffic jams this summer.
The city is also reducing the speed on most roads from 50 kph to 30 kph in December.
Traffic will slow down to 30 kph in over 80% of roads in Amsterdam but buses that have their own lanes and trams will still be allowed a speed of up to 50 kph.
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