Relationships in the city center have already radically changed. Thirty years ago, the city center was mainly made up of shops, but now the share of catering has continued to grow, along with the residential function. The mix of functions changes. This has major consequences: people come for different reasons and at different times, and they make different demands on scarce public space. “We have to give the city back to the people. For that, we have to talk to each other: what will our center look like in ten or fifteen years? This is the knot. So says Klaas Yde Haarsma, responsible for sustainable mobility processes at Royal HaskoningDHV.
What is the starting point?
“The municipal authorities want a beautiful, friendly and lively city. With more space for pedestrians and cyclists, more greenery and more terraces, while retaining the historic character. This is quite a task, as city centers are under increasing pressure. Something really needs to be done.
Does this by definition lead to a city without a car?
“If you generally agree on the welcoming city of the future for stays, then you will also come to the conclusion that it will have consequences on car traffic. These are therefore zero-emission zones and a new look at urban logistics, such as the many parcel deliverers and deliveries for restaurants, which are much more intensive than for shops. You don’t want a truck right outside your patio at three o’clock on a Saturday afternoon. But for us, “getting out of the car” is never an end in itself ”.
Every city is different, of course
“It is always made to measure, it differs from one city to another. How to guarantee a parking space on the outskirts of the city, how to ensure that visitors can easily, quickly and comfortably make round trips to the center? In a big city you can do this with Park & Ride, in a small town you can walk to the center in a few minutes. And in the city of the future, welcoming for stays, this traditional butcher’s shop and its delicious pastry must remain easily accessible. You have to take care of what you have.
Can you also share the scarce space?
“Yes, it is an intelligent and flexible use in time and space. For example, a specific location could be a loading and unloading location in the morning and a terrace in the afternoon. We are experimenting with this in different cities. Start small and see what happens. In a historic town like Dokkum, there was also a reluctance to make the center car-free. Then, on a trial basis, a section of the road was closed only on weekends. The general conclusion: we should have done it much earlier. It’s always a combination of new rules and new space. We are advising a growing number of city authorities on how to shape and make the welcoming city center a reality. From Amsterdam to Enschede, from Dordrecht to Dokkum, from Haarlem to Leeuwarden.
How important is it to build support?
It’s essential. You have to build coalitions, work together to achieve the goal of the welcoming city. Most importantly, you build shared support and ownership together. With the association of traders, with catering, with the inhabitants, with logistics providers. We understand traffic and transportation, including the technology toolkit. But above all, our strength is to be able to manage such processes with the municipalities and with other stakeholders. This is how you take the strategy to the streets. ”
What role can technology play in this regard?
“This role is extremely current. With license plate recognition (automatic license plate recognition, ANPR) you can determine who is not allowed to enter the city, if you wish based on the hours, purpose of the visit, the dates of transport and the number of stops to be made. It is also conceivable that you could enter the city for a short time to bring heavy suitcases to the hotel where you have booked. This is how you put the digital barriers, so to speak.
We accept the challenge
Work on the welcoming city of the future for stays begins today. Let’s give the city back to the people together!
“We want to be a city that is accessible and a good place to stay. That is why we are working on a new balance, also for mobility, with all stakeholders. “
Alderman Friso Douwstra of Leeuwarden