Today has been Auto Vrije Dag in Amsterdam – the one day a year when cars are not allowed to enter the city. All day, checkpoints at or near the motorway ring have been turning hopeful punters away, while service vehicles and buses have been allowed through, as well, of course, as bicycles.
Think about it for a moment: car parking in the city is eye wateringly expensive, progress is slow even at quiet times, and the whole area is criss-crossed by frequent bus and tram services. So what’s the problem in giving up the car for one day a year, or putting it in one of the P&Rs?
Well, it’s a problem to enough motorists to cause pleading, hectoring, anger and the odd attempt to follow the bus in front. In summary, it’s the car culture writ large. During my work time in the Netherlands, a senior project manager I worked with was always decrying public transport: his constant assertion was that it was so much slower than driving.
The problem with his argument was exposed at early morning project meetings when he would dial in from his hands free, being stuck once more in a traffic jam.