Nearly 2 million Netherlands residents don’t have library, train station within reach

Nearly 2 million people in the Netherlands don’t live within reach of the basic facilities if they don’t have a car. On average, they must travel more than 4 kilometers to reach a library, swimming pool, train station, or cafe. In some cases, even the pharmacy is over 4 kilometers away, AD reports after analyzing figures from Statistics Netherlands (CBS).

Every year, CBS calculates the average distance traveled per municipality for nine basic facilities – general practitioner, pharmacy, swimming pool, supermarket, department store, library, cinema, cafe, and train station. For one in nine Netherlands residents, the 15-minute-municipality – the idea that important facilities can be reached within 15 minutes without a car – is out of reach.

The good news is that, on average, the residents of every Dutch municipality have a GP and supermarket within 4 kilometers. Just under 60 municipalities, with a combined population of almost 6.2 million people, even achieved the perfect score, with all nine basic facilities within easy reach for the average resident.

Alphen-Chaam, with over 10,000 residents on the border of Noord-Brabant and Belgium, scored the worst, with only three out of the nine basic facilities within reach. Noordoostpolder and Nordeast-Fryslan, with over 45,000 residents each, have four of the nine basic facilities within reach.

Thinking that every municipality will achieve the 15-minute standard is unreasonable, Dick Ettema, professor of urban accessibility and social inclusion at Utrecht University, told AD after studying its figures. “With the exception of perhaps Alphen-Chaam, all municipalities do reach a minimum level. You have to accept that some municipalities will not get any further.”

He wonders if the residents of the minimum-requirements municipalities have a problem with that. “It needs to be researched better, but I can imagine that people would deliberately move to a place with fewer facilities, where it is quieter.”

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