Will car-free Sunday return to the Netherlands?
It should be good for togetherness
Make no mistake: a car-free Sunday is held almost every week in several Dutch villages. Sometimes the car-free Sunday is on Tuesday or Thursday. And that without agreeing with the residents. The political party BoerBurgerBeweging is once again introducing an official car-free Sunday throughout North Brabant. The BBB has asked questions about this to the Provincial Executive, in other words the executive board of a province.
The BBB thinks that a car-free Sunday is good for solidarity. A car-free day could also help reduce the number of road deaths. A few years ago, GroenLinks and ChristenUnie suggested bringing back the car-free day. Nothing ever came of this.
The car-free Sunday is still in our law book
According to the law, municipalities are allowed to declare a car-free day. The municipality of Groningen did this in 2019. However, the day without cars made little impression. The Groninger Ondernemers Courant wrote at the time that many may have missed it. For the time being, that was the most recent car-free Sunday in the Netherlands.
The first car-free Sunday was held in 1939. This of course had everything to do with the Second World War. The car-free day only really became known after the oil crisis in 1974, when cars were not driven ten times on Sundays. The 'Car-free Sunday scheme in the event of an oil crisis' came into effect in 2001. This regulation prescribes that if there is a threat of oil scarcity, no fuel-powered vessels or vehicles may be used from Sunday morning at 3 a.m. to Monday morning at 3 a.m.
Still car-free Sundays in Belgium
Brabanders who live close to the border with Belgium still experience car-free Sundays. Every year a car-free Sunday is held in Belgium. For example, last Sunday (September 17) no cars drove through Brussels and Antwerp. Although: on that particular Sunday, a politician took a taxi to a television studio. Awkward, especially when you come to talk about plans to provide less road for cars and more for walkers, cyclists and public transport.