Rotterdam, a Different Dutch CIty

We’ve been combing through our notes from our Netherlands trip, and have one or two more posts left…

While our visit was centered in Amsterdam, we had the chance to visit a number of cities, and Rotterdam provides an interesting contrast. It is the commercial center of the country and a major port city (about half of the land area of the city is consumed by the port). The city center was also destroyed during WWII, so it has a very different feel from the historic streets of Amsterdam.

The attitude toward cars is also different. The planners we spoke to used the phrase “durable access” to describe mobility in the city. They want to give citizens the choice of mode and make them all work well. They have organized major radial corridors into and out of the city and made them work well for cars, transit and bikes. Typically this means that you have the ability to drive to the city center if you want, but you’ll find it much cheaper to park at the outskirts of the center and take transit or walk the rest of the way. Pricing of parking is one of the key balancing tools. You can get there by car if you’re willing to pay the price.

They are also investing in upgrading their tram (streetcar) service on these radial corridors, with an emphasis on shortening trip time. They are moving the trams to dedicated right of way, giving them signal priority, spacing stops about every 500 meters and using low-floor cars to make boarding easier and faster. More like our Light Rail than our Streetcar.

Nonetheless, they achieve a 23% bicycle mode share in both the city center and the city in general, and you see the same attention to quality bicycle facilities that you do in Amsterdam.

While many of us on the trip fell in love with Amsterdam, the model in Rotterdam may be much more applicable to what we can strive for here in Portland.


One response to “Rotterdam, a Different Dutch CIty”

  1. Rotterdam is a much better city to compare with Portland, though its port is 10 times the size of Portland’s.
    As I recall Rotterdam is the city cited in the “urban myth” that policy makers saw encouraging bicycle use as a way to free up road capacity for freight movement.
    I was never able to find any documentation on this….but then I don’t read Dutch; email conversations with folks at the Port of Rotterdam produced no evidence that such a policy existed; hence “myth.”
    Freight movement is not mentioned in the Dutch Bike Master Plan of 1999.
    That said, the net effect of a 20+% bike mode share is that trucks have more capacity available to them.

Leave a Reply

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