The Dutch city of The Hague has begun a one-year pilot of a high flat-rate parking fee to deter visitors from driving into the historical centre and to the popular beach of Scheveningen. The cost of on-street parking is set at a flat rate of €50, no matter if the car is parked for 10 minutes or for the entire day.
For the start of the pilot, the high fee will only apply to certain streets, so that the authorities are able to learn about its effects, before considering whether to extend the scheme to more streets. Residents and businesses that hold a parking permit are exempt from the scheme. This way, they are given priority in the mostly residential streets.
The Hague's authorities are implementing the pilot in response to the high volume of tourists who park their car on-street in the city centre and at the beach. Aside from streets being blocked with parked cars, the city has faced complaints from residents, who have had a hard time finding a parking space.
Jurriaan Esser, a spokesperson for the city council, said: “We want the primary way of transportation to be your legs, and then the bicycle, public transport, and, last, cars. That doesn’t mean we don’t allow cars in our city: it means that if you have a short distance to travel, your primary way of transportation should be your legs. It benefits not only the environment but also travel times.”
Reactions to the pilot scheme have been mixed. Businesses are concerned that car customers will avoid the area, while sustainable mobility supporters are calling for a wider strategy to discourage car driving, including banning through traffic, introducing lower speed limits and reorganising traffic flows.
Article published first at The Guardian on 6 May 2023.
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