An example of the way we try to alter the traffic structure in such a way that public transport and cycling are stimulated, while at the same time the use of motorcars is discouraged, is the traffic circulation plan in the city center. The implementation of this plan has considerably improved the quality of life and the shopping climate in the city.
How It Was
More than ten years ago, the traffic circulation plan for the city center was introduced in Groningen. Before this plan was put into effect, private cars could freely drive anywhere throughout the city center. The central square, the "Great Market Place," was in effect a roundabout, across which through traffic moved from all directions. The traffic plan put an end to this situation.
What They Did About It
With the traffic circulation plan, the city center was divided into four sections. The boundaries between these sections may not be crossed by motorised traffic. Private cars can go from one section to another only by means of a ring road around the city center, but bicyclists, pedestrians, and public transport (including taxis) may ignore the section boundaries. Pedestrian areas were expanded and squares were declared off limits to cars.
Yes, the Merchants Complained
This plan caused an enormous political discussion. Shopkeepers in particular were against the implementation of the plan. They feared that their shops would be difficult to reach, leading to a loss of sales. Some shops did suffer during the first two years of the plan, but afterward this trend was completely reversed. Maybe the shops gave themselves too much negative publicity.
The Patient Were Rewarded
The most important effects of the traffic circulation plan were these:
- An improvement in the quality of life and the shopping climate in the city
- A more attractive public space in the city center
- An increase in the number of shoppers
- Increased use of public transport and bicycles, and a large decrease in the number of cars in the area.
Now, after more than ten years, we can say that the traffic circulation plan has been a success. More shopkeepers want to see the cars out of their streets. It seems that stimulating the use of means of transport other than the car pays off, not only for the environment, but also for the economy of the city as a whole.
Provided to The Bike People by Will Bramhill