The results will lead to concrete proposals to be put in place from 2016. This action is in addition to measures that are already underway, such as more space for cyclists and pedestrians, and firm enforcement of the rules regarding illegal hotels.
Like other European cities, Amsterdam attracts a great number of people. The number of residents is growing and the number of visitors has also increased in recent years. The College of Mayor and Alderpersons views the city's growth as a positive development – growth brings vibrancy to the city, inspiring opportunity and prosperity. But at times, in some places residents experience nuisance and inconvenience. With more than 10,000 new residents per year and an increasing number of visitors, it is time to determine a course that ensures the city remains attractive for everyone. This must consider residents and the welcoming reputation of the city. For this reason, the College of Mayor and Alderpersons has drawn up a starting document titled City in Balance.
City in Balance is an initial analysis that explains the city's success. It is an exploration of long-term decisions and lists the measures that the City is already taking in areas where bottlenecks arise. For example, in the inner city more space has been made for cyclists and pedestrians, such as in the Haarlemmerstraat and the 9 Streets. Combatting illegal hotels is also a priority and last week it was announced that the City is making a sizeable investment in increasing enforcement. They also want to build 5,000 additional homes per year. In addition, Sloterplas (a lake in the West area of Amsterdam) will be transformed into a new recreation area for Amsterdammers and visitors alike. Throughout the year, there remains a continuous effort to spread visitors across the city, especially during major events such as King's Day and New Year's Eve.
The experiments that begin this year are aimed at making more space and reducing nuisance, and their results may lead to permanent measures. The streets around Rembrandtplein (one of Amsterdam’s most popular nightlife areas) will become pedestrian zones on Friday and Saturday nights, with more parking spaces available for bicycles. The City of Amsterdam and local businesses are launching a new partnership to combat nuisance caused by pub- and club-goers. On the Nieuwmarkt (square in the city centre) there will be a trial of specific loading/unloading times; one section of the square will become a car-free zone; and more space will be created for bicycles. The Appelsap music festival will move to the Flevopark. A test using iBeacon technology to provide better information to visitors will be held between Amsterdam Central Station and the former Marine Etablissement Amsterdam, with the aim of avoiding nuisance caused by overcrowding. And during SAIL Amsterdam 2015 (the largest public event in the Netherlands), new technologies will be used to investigate ways of making visitor flows more predictable and manageable.
Objective measurements and figures are essential in order to be able to select the right measures. We know a great deal already, but existing information can be better utilised and additional research will lead to increased knowledge. For example, more sophisticated research will be carried out into activity in the inner city, and traffic and visitor flows will be better mapped.
The City in Balance document is the result of many discussions with residents, businesses, academic institutions, governmental committees from the city districts and other stakeholders. These discussions will continue on a regular basis.