Living Jackson

Benefits of cycling
Utrecht will reduce car space yet again

Utrecht will reduce car space yet again

This road in Utrecht called Maliebaan
was first constructed in 1637 as a 740 meter long sports track
for a game called Jeu de Mail. This game was ancestral to the games of
palle-malle, croquet and golf. Especially from the 19th century, the tree-lined sports track developed
into a city boulevard… with beautiful grand houses. Today, that uptown atmosphere is
reflected in public artworks, walkways, historic light fixtures and benches. This road was also the location… of the very first cycle track
of the Netherlands, which was opened on
the 15th of September 1885. That too was literally a sports track
for races on high-wheelers. Signs inform visitors about
this historic fact. Today, only a very short stretch
of the path… is still in use as a
cycle way. Most of the Netherlands’ first cycle track
has become a walkway again. The biggest change took place
in the early 1920s, when through motor traffic was
allowed to use the original sports track… in the center of the street. Only about a decade later traffic
had increased so much already… that cycling in the center was forbidden. Traffic continued to increase. And the area had become very busy by the 1960s
as these images demonstrate. Cars can still use the central road, but things
are going to change in a dramatic way! This area of the city
is being reconstructed… to be much more for people
than for machines. Cars already got less space
on the adjacent streets of… Tolsteegsingel and Maliesingel where
the speed limits were also reduced. Big changes are planned for
Voorstraat and Nachtegaalstraat / Burgemeester Reigerstraat. From early 2014
the city has been investigating… what could be done to reduce
through traffic on the Maliebaan. About 6 to 8,000 motor vehicles use this
50 km/h street on an average working day. The city wants to decrease
the amount of motor traffic, upgrade the area for people, improve the cycle traffic flow, and recreate the historic green spaces. After a long debate the Executive Council
proposed the City Council to vote for their preferred solution
out of four plans that were developed. In this proposal, motor traffic will be completely banned
from the center of the street. That part will be reconstructed as a
boulevard for walking and cycling. All motor traffic will be diverted
to the service streets. Where the 30 km/h regime
will remain in place. Late 2019, the City Council voted
in favor of this plan. This will mean that the
remaining motor vehicles… (about 4,000 to 5,000 per working day) must use the (then also upgraded)
service streets. The traffic lights on the
one big intersection… will be removed and
cycling will get priority. The details of the plan will be
further developed in 2020. The actual reconstruction of the street
is planned for early 2021. Once again the city of Utrecht
proves that it is in transition… from a car orientated place
to a city for people.

35 comments on “Utrecht will reduce car space yet again

  1. Apart from the good news, that things are heading in the right direction, I very much like the historical footage in this video!

  2. I am so happy and excited to hear this. I have seen petitions attached to poles opposed to removing the car path down the center road. I've been wondering what the outcome would be. I didn't know Nactegaalstraat was going to be improved. I am curious to see the plans for that and for Voorstraat as well.

  3. I know I'm nitpicking here, so please don't take this too serious. While I support the new project, your "road/city for people rather than machines" was getting quite irritating for me. Roads and cycle paths, cars and bicycles are all for people and used by people, drivers and cyclists alike. It's wonderful to see more pedestrian friendly infrastructure replacing roads but seeing drivers as "machines" does not seem like a people friendly attitude. And I cycle more than I drive. Other than that, great summary.

  4. Bikes are great; but constantly removing roads for cars smacks of a restriction of movement. Just another requirement for a Big Brother state. (After all, if you can't drive anywhere, bikes are limited and public transport is regulated, so is your freedom of going wherever you want)

  5. Heel goed. Het kruispunt tussen de Maliebaan en de Nachtegaalstraat heb ik altijd onoverzichtelijk gevonden, met drie stoplichten. Ik ben benieuwd naar het eindresultaat. Utrecht gaat de laatste tijd heel hard de goede kant op.

  6. This is a great video. The narration is clear and informative, and way you cut to the historical footage is just fantastic! Nice work!

  7. I really want to live there, when I've visited the city I almost cycled in a bike traffic jam. It's such a lovely city with astonishing bike infrastructure and a beautiful uni.

  8. Yeah, upgrade the area for PEOPLE and improve the CYCLE flow – is this not a contradiction???
    Upgrading an area for people means PEDESTRIANISATION!!! Also, getting those parked bikes off the footpaths would make a very good start!

  9. As a resident of Utrecht, whom does not own a car, this news disappoints and discomforts me quite a lot. First of all. Cars are not a problem on this street. As the video shows, it is not a congested street, nor a major route. The real problem (as far as you can call it one) is the major cycleway between the Central station and the University, crossing the street. The traffic lights are a relic of older times and the junction could easily be made in to one without traffic lights giving cyclists right of way.  
    Secondly, the residents have expressed their opinion, more than once, against these plans, even calling for a petition and a citywide referendum to stop these plans. The city council straight up ignored their objections or any alternatives.  
    Finally, this is not a major cycle route, there are little to no bikes using this street, because there are many other great ways to get from point A to B without using the Maliebaan. Making the middle lane in to a promenade/ cycle track is noting but symbolism. There is no need for another walkway here and the little number of bikes using the Maliebaan will have no benefit compared to their current situation.  
    All the city council have shown here is that they do not care about their inhabitants and only think about one thing: getting to the top of the Copenhagenize Index and see If they can bully some motorists at the same time. Utrecht has a lot of great projects, promoting and improving cycling wherever we can. This is not one of those.

  10. I still remember Utrecht as the car-friendly dessert of concrete. It would be hard to believe at that time, the people of Utrecht once would give up their cars and start bicycling.

  11. Rotterdam seems very different! Car centered all the way. The city center is still full of highways. Cycle paths are narrow and of bad quality. I really don't like cycling here, my girlfriend hates it. We lived in Utrecht and Amsterdam before this, those two cities improved a lot, so Rotterdam can only catch up with the 20 year ago situation of those two cities…

  12. All fun and games, but the car being diplaced will just drive somewhere else now, so a new problem area will develop.

    Nobody in their right mind would drive a car there if they don't really have too, its not fun, too busy, very difficult and expensive to find parking and everything takes very long due to stopping for lights, cyclist etc.

    This means the people driving will be driving in the area anyways, seeing as they need to so much they brave the horrible circumstances there.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *