Amsterdam starts trial with closing busy street to car traffic

One of the busiest roads in Amsterdam, the Weesperstraat, will be closed to car traffic for six weeks. The far-reaching and controversial measure is an experiment by the municipality, which wants to investigate the effects on traffic, safety, air quality, noise, and residents’ perception.

From June 12 to July 23, the street between Nieuwe Herengracht and Nieuwe Keizersgracht will be closed to cars from 06:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Three surrounding streets will also be closed to car traffic to prevent “cut-through traffic.” Emergency services can pass through the barrier. All destinations will also remain accessible. But the travel time will sometimes be longer, according to the municipality. Warnings about the closure will be issued from the A10 so motorists can choose how to enter the city. The municipality expects the area to be very busy for the first two weeks.

The municipality has planned the experiment for years amid a lot of fuss. Some Amsterdam residents fear traffic chaos and congestion in other places, also because another important road, the Stathouderskade, is also closed for maintenance during the trial. Taxi drivers have recently protested against the plan. According to them, the municipality’s traffic policy makes their work impossible.

Amsterdam has been working on making the city car-free for some time because forecasts predict that the city will become much more crowded in the coming 25 years. “If we do nothing, car traffic will grow by 40 percent,” said traffic alderman Melanie van der Horst. “That just really doesn’t fit with the times anymore. And so we have to choose now: what can we do in which places, and how can we make room?”

The closure will be “quite stressful,” the alderman said. “I also see that this measure is provoking resistance from people. Many taxi drivers and entrepreneurs are concerned. And I understand very well that this test will certainly demand something from them in the coming weeks.”

The alderman will present the experiment results to the city council in November.

Reporting by ANP

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