1. What are the top three priorities in your city with regards to Sustainable Mobility?
To keep Utrecht attractive and accessible, we are focusing on public transport and cycling. We are not banning the car, but will do everything to stimulate people to take the bicycle or bus. We will also re-introduce the tram in the near future: a clean and efficient means of transport. The minimum ambition of Utrecht is to decrease the growth of car use by 50% in 2030. The cars that come in to the city will have to be as clean as possible.
2. What are the challenges in implementing those priorities?
Utrecht and its region are expected to keep growing in the next twenty years. A lack of urban space requires new concepts of mobility: creative solutions are needed to keep the city accessible in the future as well. Combined with a tighter financial situation, this can surely be considered a challenge. Furthermore, Utrecht has the highest percentage of car ownership, when compared to Amsterdam, Rotterdam and
The Hague. We need a change in the way people think about car use, but old habits die hard.
3. What are the 3 major contributions that CIVITAS MIMOSA can make/has made to mobility in Utrecht?
With the recent election, I was only introduced to MIMOSA in the spring of this year. But already now, CIVITAS MIMOSA is contributing firmly to its aim of exchanging ideas and best practices. As part of the
Consortium Meeting, I look forward to welcoming my colleague-politicians from the other MIMOSA cities. We will discuss our experiences and views with regard to sustainable urban mobility. This open debate will take place on October 26th and I warmly invite everyone to join us!
Another contribution of CIVITAS MIMOSA is that it has taught Utrecht a great deal about co-operation in European projects. The EU requirements and our own regular project plans reinforce each other, creating
valuable synergy between research, implementation, evaluation and dissemination of results.
4. What do you think of the EU Action Plan on Urban Mobility?
It is very important that the EU has identified practical actions in the field of urban mobility and at the same time made funding available to carry these out. Making mobility more sustainble is something that should be promoted on all policy levels: European, as well as national and local.
Many of the themes of the Action Plan correspond with issues that our City Council considers important. Having integrated policies, focusing on citizens and greening urban transport are aims that are reflected in our work programme too. And our participation in the CIVITAS MIMOSA project shows of course that Utrecht fully supports the theme “sharing experience and knowledge”!
5. What is your own personal 'pet' cause? What are you championing at the moment?
Inhabitants of Utrecht use their bicycle to travel to the city centre. But this could be more. I want to establish more bicyle parking facilities, the infrastructure for bikes will be improved and I will appoint a bicycle coordinator who will integrate existing cycle policies.
6. If you could make a wish, how would you solve existing mobility problems in Utrecht?
I would wish that every citizen of Utrecht and everyone who comes to Utrecht makes a more conscious choice how to travel somewhere, when stepping out of the house. The city would have cleaner air, would be quieter and would in general be a nicer place to live in. We have to facilitate that people really can choose public transport and bikes and leave their car outside the city.
7. Who do you look up to? Who inspires you (in the area of Sustainable Development)?
When I cycle to work, it makes me proud to see so many people using bicycles, go on foot or use the bus. All those people, setting a good example, inspire me. It makes me want to achieve even better results and make Utrecht as clean and green as possible.
8. Is there a local hero in your city?
Heroes come in all shapes and sizes, it is difficult to name just one. Many of them can for example be found in the private sector. The City Council can stimulate innovations and investments in clean transport solutions, but we need companies to actually carry this out. Luckily Utrecht has many of those. We are for example proud of Hoek Transport, who developed the emission-free Cargohopper. It’s small freight trains now drive in the medieval centre of Utrecht, attracting much national and international praise. Hoek was even asked to present its innovative concept at the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development.
9. Would you recommend CIVITAS to other politicians? For what reasons?
Absolutely. Participation in CIVITAS gives a signal in the city that sustainable mobility is a priority. Being part of CIVITAS, a city can set an example for other European cities and at the same time gain knowledge and experience that can be used immediately. The financial contribution allows innovative measures to be pushed through more easily. Utrecht is proud to be part of this ‘living laboratory’.