Utrecht is reconstructing the streets directly around the historic city centre. These streets, alongside the former city wall and moat, were once supposed to become a four lane main road. For that the water would have disappeared. That never happened at this location but the streets did become a main route for motor traffic for decades. Now the streets have been designated as a main cycle route around the city centre. The design of the streets is being changed accordingly. The second stage of this project has just been finished and a third stage is under construction.
Two years ago I showed you the first stage of this project. The streets named Maliesingel and Tolsteegsingel were transformed from a main road with narrow on-street cycle lanes to a cycle street with two metre wide cycle lanes in smooth red asphalt on the outside of the street. The rest of the road space in the centre (2.5 metres wide, or just a bit wider than one car) got a brick surface and is meant for motor traffic in both directions.
The goal of this project is threefold. The city describes it as follows:
- a design that evolves around pedestrians and cycling;
- a design that nudges people to adhere to the desired speeds and thus influences the choice of route and vehicle for a journey;
- a design that fits the grandeur of this historic area and increases the quality of this space for people.
Stark differences between the traffic plans from 1958 and 2016. In 1958 this was the only plan there was; it was all about cars. In the 2016 plan this is the fourth map. There are first maps for the pedestrian network, the cycling network and the public transport network. The car network is mentioned last. Although much of the projected roads in 1958 were indeed built, the number of main roads – especially inside the inner ring – has decreased. The city centre can still be reached from all directions but you will have to go out the same way you came into the city. Through traffic is virtually impossible and there is no ring right around the historic core. The 2016 plan shows the desired situation for 2025. Pictures left: Plan Feuchtinger, right: Mobilityplan Utrecht, 2025.