The four major cities agree with each other: the car has been given too much space in cities for too long, resulting in a large number of road casualties. Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht therefore ask the cabinet and the House of Representatives to reduce the maximum speed on all roads in built-up areas from 50 to 30 kilometers per hour.
The traffic aldermen of the so-called G4 also want electric vehicles such as e-scooters and speed pedelecs to be moved from the bike path to the car lane. These means of transport are too often causing dangerous situations on the cycle path at the moment, the aldermen say.
“We want to live in a city where you can stay comfortably and kids can just go to school by bike. We do not close the city for cars, but we are adapting the city so that it is more pleasant and safer for everyone,” says Amsterdams traffic alderman Egbert de Vries (PvdA).
The reactions to the plan vary considerably on the street:
His words are endorsed by his Utrecht colleague Lot van Hooijdonk (GroenLinks). “If you have an accident with a car that runs 30 instead of 50 kilometers per hour, you are 90 percent more likely to survive this,” she said in the NPO Radio 1 program Speech Makers.
The G4 ask the forthcoming cabinet to adapt traffic regulations as soon as possible, so that the maximum speed of 30 kilometers per hour can be introduced on inner-city main roads.
At the moment, a 30-way must comply with specific safety measures such as speed bumps. The cities find that awkward, for example because of emergency services that need to be able to drive much faster.
Where it is already possible, the cities reduce the speed at 50 kilometres of roads to 30 kilometers per hour. In October, the House of Representatives adopted a motion to introduce 30 kilometers per hour as standard within built-up areas. In Spain, for example, such a speed reduction has already been introduced. The city of Brussels also reduced the speed, after which the number of road accidents fell sharply.
This summer, the Foundation for Scientific Research on Road Safety called for a reduction of the maximum speed to 15 kilometers per hour in streets without a footpath. The organization received support from the Safety Traffic Netherlands and traffic institute CROW with that proposal.
The city does not have to fully rebuild to carry out the speed reduction, says Amsterdam alderman De Vries. “It is best to introduce the 30 rule in one go everywhere, so that the standard is clear for everyone and then make the necessary adjustments to the roads in the coming years.”
According to traffic psychologist Gerard Tertoolen, a direct adjustment of the roads is indeed necessary. “If you only put a different speedboard, motorists will continue to drive faster and that will only make it more unsafe.” With effective adjustments, he thinks of (optically) narrowing the road or replacing asphalt for vowels. “Enforcement is of course also important.”
Care at public transport companies
The municipal public transport companies of Amsterdam (GVB), Rotterdam (RET) and The Hague (HTM) fear that the speed reduction will adversely affect public transport. Because of the speed reduction, public transport is less likely and therefore less attractive, the companies think.
“We call on the Government and municipalities to take into account the ambition to accelerate urban public transport in the plans,” the companies write in a statement. For example, they advocate the creation of priority roads, free jobs and, where possible, an exception for public transport of the maximum speed of 30 kilometers per hour.
Tomorrow, the topic of road safety will be on the debate agenda of the House of Representatives.