Changing traffic policy in practice in Plantage Middenlaan

Plantage Middenlaan got an impressive redesign at Wertheimpark in 2015. Car traffic is no longer welcome. The roadway has been transformed into a green tram track.
This is the story of a street that was adapted to accommodate growing numbers of cars traffic. But where space for cyclists and pedestrians has been gradually reclaimed since the 1980s. An on-street example of the city's changing traffic policy.

Plantage Middenlaan, a wide avenue adorned with trees in the 1900’s neighbourhood Plantage, is a connector road running from the east of Amsterdam towards the city centre. Similar to other streets, the growing number of cars took up more and more space and the old narrow bridge over Nieuwe Herengracht became a bottleneck. In 1960, the narrow bridge was replaced by a wider one to accommodate more motorized traffic.

PLANTA~2.JPG Old narrow bridge, 1958. Photo: Stadsarchief Amsterdam / MA Knopper
Plantage Middenlaan 1960 Arsath Ro'is, J.M. DRO 010122023731.jpg New bridge, 1960. Photo: Stadsarchief Amsterdam / JM Arsath Ro’is

Plantage Middenlaan had a wide lane shared by cars, trams and bikes shared the space. However, the growing number of cars makes cycling unsafe and unnerving. The segregated bike lanes built in the 1980’s were a great improvement.

Plantage Middenlaan 1928 DRO 010009004558 Stadsarchief Amsterdam DRO.jpg Lots of space in Plantage Middenlaan, 1928. Photo: Stadsarchief Amsterdam / DRO
Plantage Middenlaan 1983 DRO B00000027205.jpg Segregated bike lanes in Plantage Middenlaan, 1983. Photo: Stadsarchief Amsterdam / DRO

Since the 1980s, the space for cars has gradually been reallocated to pedestrians, cyclists and the tram. In 2015 cars were banned completely from the first part of Plantage Middenlaan at Wertheimpark. This is a result of the yearlong policy of reducing car traffic in the city.

Grass in place of asphalt helps to capture water in periods of heavy rainfall – an issue increasingly common with climate change.

The photos below show the transformation of this part of the street.

Plantage Middenlaan 1980 DRO B00000019952.jpg Plantage Middenlaan near Wertheimpark 1980, Photo: Stadsarchief Amsterdam / DRO
Plantage Middenlaan 2010 thv Wetheimpark van google streetview.png The same spot in 2010. With bike lanes and trams and cars in the middle. Photo: Google Streetview
Plantage Middenlaan 2015 thv Wetheimpark van google streetview.png The same spot in 2015, just when the section is made car free. With bike lanes and one way for cars. Photo: Google Streetview
Plantage Middenlaan 2019 thv Wetheimpark van The same spot in 2019. Car free, green trams lane and wide bike lanes. Photo:

Our question

Do you also see examples within your city where climate improvements are made in addition to improvements for the bicycle (like tram tracks equipped with grass instead of concrete)? Share them via Disqus.


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