MPs from GroenLinks and ChristenUnie have voiced their support for an annual car free Sunday, reports NOS. Car-free days can draw attention to other ways of moving around the city, and increase the sense of community in each area.
Other European countries have trialed car-free Sundays in various cities, usually as part of European Mobility Week in September. This week aims to call attention to climate change and air pollution- both issues that have garnered a lot of attention recently in the Netherlands.
Car-free Sundays in the Netherlands today
Car-free Sundays have taken place in some places in the Netherlands- they are usually organised by municipalities. However, their organisation has not been structural and they are fairly rare. The MPs from ChristenUnie and GroenLinks are hoping to change that, by getting the support of the minister. The event would still be organised on a municipal level, but nationwide.
Car-free Sundays in the Netherlands in the past
This would actually not be the first time the Netherlands has had nationwide car-free Sundays- in the 1970s, during the oil crisis, cars were left at home due to the gasoline shortage. “Now there is no oil crisis, but we are dealing with a climate crisis, a nitrogen problem and poor air quality in the cities,” says Dik-Faber, MP for ChristenUnie.
Drawing attention to alternatives
The MPs are also enthusiastic about the other benefits a car-free day could bring to cities- community and a party atmosphere. GroenLinks MP Kröger says that a car-free Sunday would be a celebration of alternatives to cars. “[The car] takes up a lot of space, not only physically in our cities, but also in terms of environmental impact. It would be nice if we could leave the car one day a year, to draw attention to the alternatives: walking, cycling or using public transport.”
Dik-Faber recalls a car-free day in her hometown, Veenendaal. “The whole of Veenendaal ran out to meet each other that day. It was really a party.” With most cities in the Netherlands at least somewhat segregated according to class and background, such a day could be a small step towards more cohesive and integrated cities.
… and PVV’s thoughts
As usual, Geert Wilders’ PVV is not a fan, with PVV MP Van Aalst calling the plan “crazy” and advising MPs to “use a little less laughing gas before releasing these climate-neutral test balloons.”
What would you think of a car-free Sunday? Have you experienced one before? Let us know in the comments below.
Image: MADe/Wikimedia Commons