Traveling From A to B The Dutch Way
Transport is at its best when passengers and goods are transported using the most efficient and cost effective means. In a small, densely populated country like the Netherlands lots of attention is given to managing the different ways people and things get moved around, while maintaining the important balance between the environment, quality of life and the economy.
Image: Teun van Dries
Whether by foot, boat, bicycle, auto or public transport, the goal is not only about getting from A to B quickly and as proficiently as possible, but doing it in comfort, while at the same time minimizing the negative impact..
Doing it the Dutch way
The Dutch approach to effective traffic control is a combination of monitoring traffic flows and the ancillary effects: road safety, congestion, air and noise pollution, and time saving.
Government on all levels (country wide, regional and urban) is engaged in incentive regulation, a comprehensive program meant to improve traffic and mobility by working together to improve road, waterway and railway accessibility in the busiest regions. The program is sustained by university research and scientific institutes. Support for the program allows companies, educational institutions, hospitals, and such, to add their own unique initiatives to accommodate their employee and client needs – supplying workers with bikes, convenient local park & ride, allowing for flexible working hours and work-from-home arrangements… all standard Dutch measures to unburden road traffic.
Governments in Holland make room for accommodating large and small projects, picked up by the private initiative. Multifunctional solutions of course work best. Like minibus services that bring the elderly and the physically impaired to city centers to do their shopping. Another example is WiFi in Dutch trains, the widely popular and convenient free internet service, also available to tour buses, that make it more attractive to use public transportation and leave the car at home.
Using IT and smartphones
The smartphone is telephone, web browser and GPS tracker all-in-one, putting all the necessary travel information at the drivers’ fingertips. And, there are the dedicated navigation devices, like those the Dutch company ‘TomTom’ brings on the market, that supply real-time time traffic information about congestions and roadworks for drivers and giving immediate suggestions on alternative routes.
Some cities, like Assen in the northern region of the Netherlands, developed their own system to guide traffic, by using electronic road signs and information panels. No smartphone or ‘TomTom’ is needed. Finding your way around is an ease, and it will direct you to a free parking spot, too.
Car radios in Holland are also a travel aid. Most Dutch stations give excellent travel info, at least ones every hour; and in case of emergencies broadcasts are interrupted to warn people of road hazards and unusual conditions.
This is all managed 24/7 through the so called ‘traffic centers’ in the Netherlands, working together with the ANWB (Royal Dutch Touring Club), road authorities and the police. Most of the important traffic control on Dutch highways and main roads is done by CCTV cameras, which operate continuously and monitored by the traffic centers. Accidents and jams are spotted immediately.