Residents and visitors to this Dutch neighborhood could share a pool of cars and bikes


(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Johnny Wood, Senior Writer, Formative Content

  • A new city center development in the Netherlands could go nearly car-free.
  • Residents in this district will share a pool of cars and bicycles. There will be 3 private car parking spaces planned for every 10 houses.
  • More cyclists can mean a healthier population, fewer long-term rider casualties and less air pollution, studies show.

One Netherlands city is rethinking urban living, moving from private cars parked out front individual homes to a community built for pedestrians and two-wheeled travel.

The nearly car-free neighbourhood is planned for Utrecht and will have little place – or space – for privately owned vehicles.

Called Merwede, the proposed development will transform an industrial area of the city centre into a model of sustainable living, where walls and courtyards come alive with greenery and solar panels cover rooftops.


Everything residents need will be available within walking distance, or reachable by bicycle along a network of cycle routes linking different parts of the district with the city centre.

The area will have good public transport links, allowing residents to travel long distances and connect with other parts of the country and beyond.

cyclists cycle cycling bikes bicycles riding green friend Eco Holland Netherlands Amsterdam town planning development sustainable development environment renewable solar energy change transition friendly environment carbon footprint carbon emissions reduction change natural climate change global warming air pollution clean energy power renewables plastic plastics Cities smart urban urbanization development growth growing inclsuive inclusivity poverty tech technology
Emergency vehicles will have access to Merwede’s centre, but not cars.
Image: marco.booekman

Away from Merwede’s heart, garage parking will be available for private vehicles, but there will only be about three spaces for every 10 households, 300 of which will be for shared cars.

Emergency services will be able to access the streets but the district’s heart will be a no-go zone for cars.

What’s the World Economic Forum doing about the future of cities?

Cities represent humanity’s greatest achievements – and greatest challenges. From inequality to air pollution, poorly designed cities are feeling the strain as 68% of humanity is predicted to live in urban areas by 2050.

The World Economic Forum supports a number of projects designed to make cities cleaner, greener and more inclusive.

These include hosting the Global Future Council on Cities and Urbanization, which gathers bright ideas from around the world to inspire city leaders, and running the Future of Urban Development and Services initiative. The latter focuses on how themes such as the circular economy and the Fourth Industrial Revolution can be harnessed to create better cities. To shed light on the housing crisis, the Forum has produced the report Making Affordable Housing a Reality in Cities.

Boosting public health, safety
Cycling can lead to a number of public health benefits, research shows. In addition to reducing pollution, cycling regularly helps to reduce stress and lower the risk of chronic conditions like heart disease, type 2 diabetes and strokes.

Bike-friendly communities can also increase safety for cyclists. An OECD Cycle Safety report found higher levels of awareness in places with large numbers of bike users, cycle paths and supporting infrastructure.

Investing in infrastructure
Still, without investment in infrastructure, the “safety in numbers” idea can vanish. Both drivers and cyclists must adapt to a surge in bike users, the OECD report found, or cycling fatalities will increase with the number of cyclists.

Safety levels differ from country to country and from city to city. The Global Bicycle Cities Index 2019 highlights the most cycle-friendly cities. European centres like Utrecht, Munster in Germany and Antwerp in Belgium, lead the way by building dedicated bike infrastructure, creating bike-sharing schemes and holding no-car days.

cyclists cycle cycling bikes bicycles riding green friend Eco Holland Netherlands Amsterdam town planning development sustainable development environment renewable solar energy change transition friendly environment carbon footprint carbon emissions reduction change natural climate change global warming air pollution clean energy power renewables plastic plastics Cities smart urban urbanization development growth growing inclsuive inclusivity poverty tech technology
Utrecht tops the list of the world’s most cycle-friendly cities.
Image: Global Bicycle Cities Index 2019

Merwede’s cyclists will have an advantage as Utrecht is already a cyclist’s haven. Dedicated routes, run in, out, and around the city, and are widely used. About 60% of visitors to the city centre get there by bike and the city is home to the world’s largest bicycle parking garage.

If the proposal goes through, Merwede won’t be the only city built with cycling in mind. Other cities, such as Amsterdam, have also invested in cycling infrastructure to encourage people to cycle.

With the right planning, more cycle-friendly cities can lead to healthier people, fewer rider casualties and improved air quality, changes that are good for riders, their communities and the environment.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Boris as UK Premier to be cornered if attempting a no-deal Brexit

Malta: Human rights experts call for justice in case of murdered journalist

The company of the future must do well by doing good

Germany’s strong anti-bribery enforcement against individuals needs to be matched by comparably strong enforcement against companies

Parliament compromises on Banking Union but sends market abusers to jail

Here are 4 of the most politically charged World Cup games ever played

COP21 Breaking News_10 December: UN Climate Chief Calls for Final Push to Meet Adaptation Fund Goal Very Close to Target

EU car manufacturers worry about an FTA with Japan

Access to ‘affordable’ medicines in India: challenges & solutions

Myanmar doing too little to ensure displaced Rohingya return: UN refugee agency chief

Tuesday’s Daily Brief: hate speech, dementia, Libya and Yemen, human rights in Brazil and Lebanon

Civilian death toll continues to mount in Syria, UN relief chief tells Security Council

From a refugee camp to Davos: one Co-Chair’s story

EU and China resolve amicably solar panel trade dispute

‘By no means is this over’: WHO briefing

Sustainable development funding is broken. Here’s how to fix it

How COVID-19 is driving a long-overdue revolution in education

Ditching plastic straws isn’t enough. Here’s how to achieve zero waste.

Green Deal: Coal and other carbon-intensive regions and the Commission launch the European Just Transition Platform

US-EU trade war: Berlin fearful of the second round

This is what the world’s waste does to people in poorer countries

Gender inequality in the medicine field: two commonly issues

Scotland wants to create an ethical stock exchange (Post Brexit)

UN agency plan tackles ‘hidden cost’ of gold, paves way for safer, mercury-free mining

Measuring consumer confidence isn’t useful anymore. Here’s what we should do instead

State aid: Commission invites comments on simplified rules for State aid combined with EU support

Eurozone again whipped by Greek winds

This is how many people are forcibly displaced worldwide

Pandemic and mental health: what to do in this context?

Healthcare’s a human right, not ‘a privilege for the rich’ UNAIDS argues at Davos

Lithuania finds the ways to maintain its energy security

‘Regional security and integration’ in Central Africa under threat, Security Council warned

Protests and civil unrest show ‘renewed sense of patriotism’ in Iraq, UN envoy tells Security Council

Young students envision turning Europe into an Entrepreneurial Society

What the car industry has done to help fight climate change – and what it needs to do next

Ebola situation worsening in DR Congo, amidst growing ‘funding gap’ UN health agency warns

How can coronavirus lockdowns end safely and effectively? – WHO briefing

GSMA Reveals Shortlist For 2019 Asia Mobile Awards

New rules for temporary border controls within the Schengen area

World Malaria Day: 7 things to know about the deadly disease

China’s impact as a global investor; the Sting reports live from World Economic Forum 2015 in Davos

The challenges of Chinese investment in Latin America

Federalist EU ‘naively’ believes Washington shares her TTIP high fever

Japanese law professor elected new judge at the International Court of Justice

G20 LIVE: the EU trade gold rush continues as EU and Australia agree to launch Free Trade Agreement (FTA) live from Antalya Turkey

Combatting terrorism: EP special committee calls for closer EU cooperation

World Digital Media Awards winners announced at WNMC.19 in Glasgow, in association with The European Sting

Jean-Claude Juncker and Theresa May at last week’s EU Council. Source: EC Audiovisual Services / Copyright: European Union, 2017 / Photo: Etienne Ansotte

EU leaders open “Phase Two” of Brexit talks and warn Theresa May of tougher times

Globalization 4.0 will help us tackle climate change. Here’s how

EU invests more than €100 million in new LIFE Programme projects to promote a green and climate-neutral Europe

EU citizens disenchanted with Economic and Monetary Union over rising poverty and high unemployment

Shaping the future of democracy in Armenia

Brexit casts a shadow over the LSE – Deutsche Börse merger: a tracer of how or if brexit is to be implemented

Poorer countries set to be ‘increasingly dependent’ on food imports, says UN food agency report

Medical students as the critical link to address climate change

The Amazon is reaching a dangerous tipping-point. We need to scale solutions now if we have any chance of saving it

Portraits show ‘dignity and humanity’ of Holocaust survivors, 75 years after Auschwitz liberation

UN chief commends African Union on adoption of institutional reforms

Peru is building a new international airport near Machu Picchu – and archaeologists are worried

Investment, not debt, can kick-start an entrepreneurial Europe

More Stings?



  1. The world is leaning towards healthier living in general so I am not surprised if other major cities take a look at what the Netherlands are doing to see if this will work in their cities as well. It seems like a great idea to me. Antonio

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s