Lot van Hooijdonk, the alderman for mobility, energy, greenery and animal welfare of the municipality of Utrecht, strives to create more bicycle space and make public transport a more attractive alternative to the car. Would you like to know how the municipality will carry out its sustainable mobility plans? Read this Q&A with Van Hooijdonk, in which she also emphasizes the cooperation with regional cities and the province in constructing regional cycle highways. "We want to encourage people to use their bicycles for both shorter and longer distances."
Alderman Lot van Hooijdonk - © Lotte Stierhout
Could you explain why it is vital to stimulate sustainable mobility?
“We want to keep the city of Utrecht attractive and accessible to everyone. That is a challenge because the number of inhabitants increases every year, while the city's space remains the same. Therefore, it is our task to stimulate sustainable mobility choices, with a focus on the use of bicycles and public transport. Our basic principle is that car traffic within the ring road should not grow, so we remain a healthy city for living, working, and recreation.”
What important choice does the municipality make to reduce car traffic?
“We aim to accelerate the trend from ownership to the use of cars by facilitating and stimulating MaaS (mobility as a service). An example of this is an electric charging and discharging car battery system that is part of the Smart Solar Charging project. This system returns sustainable energy into the neighbourhood. Partly because of our help in research, inhabitants can already use electric cars in 9 out of 10 city neighbourhoods.”
How does the municipality stimulate the use of public transport among residents and visitors?
“Next to the use of trains, research shows that the bus is a common means of transport to reach the city center. That is why we will improve the bus network around the center in the next years. We will also make visitors even more aware of the P&R parking spaces on the outskirts of the city, from which they can travel to their destination by bus or tram.”
How will the municipality ensure that the use of bicycles remains attractive, both in the city and region?
“Besides widening bicycle paths and building more parking places in the city, we want to encourage people to use their bicycles for longer distances. That is why we are starting to build regional cycle highways together with regional cities and the province. On these highways, cyclists have priority over car traffic and are more likely to get green at traffic lights. Construction of the first route between Utrecht and Amersfoort will start at the end of 2020. Other routes between Utrecht and IJsselstein, Veenendaal and Woerden, will be constructed in the next 2 to 3 years. These routes will be part of a large regional cycling network, which will consist of a total of 7 cycle highways.”