Amsterdam’s story

Each city and region is shaped by it’s unique social, ecological and political context and the collective decisions of it’s people – no two develop the same way.

Amsterdam is no exception. In post-war Amsterdam, the economic boom meant more and more people were able to afford cars and policy makers saw cars as the future of travel. Amsterdam was on course to become just like most other European cities, favouring cars before cyclists and pedestrians. However, in th

e 1970s the tide turned when more than 400 children died in traffic-related accidents in one year. Local action groups were formed and their persistent campaigning led to the Dutch Government changing its policies and the formation of a Cyclists Union.

Today, in Amsterdam, primary schools and residences for older people are not allowed to be built within 300m of a motorway or 50m of a provincial highway. It has low emissions zones for restricted vehicle access and even attracts tourists due to its cycling friendly approach to city design.

However, as with every city, challenges remain. Many cycle paths are outdated, with more space needed for both cyclists and pedestrians, and the cities ambition to be natural gas free by 2050 is an enormous undertaking requiring joined up working required to make this possible.

Through this project, we are developing toolkits for each city to support them with their clean air ambitions, tailoring these resources to individual contexts. We have gathered input from citizens and will soon be ready to share our advocacy and policy packs in full.

In the meantime, find out more about the problem of air pollution and what you or your organisation can do to contribute towards a cleaner, healthier, safer and more participatory future for Amsterdam.

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