"Seven mobility principles for urban densification: the case of the Merwede Canal Area (Utrecht)"

Seven mobility principles for urban densification: the case of the Merwede Canal Area (Utrecht)

Christiaan Kwantes1*, Lucas van der Linde2, Sebastiaan van der Hijden3  

  1. Goudappel Coffeng, the Netherlands, ckwantes@goudappel.nl
  2. Goudappel Coffeng, the Netherlands, lvdlinde@goudappel.nl
  3. City of Utrecht, the Netherlands, s.van.der.hijden@utrecht.nl

Utrecht is the fastest-growing city in the Netherlands. By 2025, it will have more than 400,000 inhabitants, 17% more than today. Utrecht has chosen to absorb that growth within the existing city limits, including by transforming the former industrial site known as the Merwede Canal Area [Merwedekanaalzone]. This has room for 6000 to 9000 new homes, in high densities.

Developing the area requires ambitious and innovative measures regarding mobility. One is dealing, after all, with some 12,000 to 17,000 new residents, all of whom need space to move around for work, social contacts, shopping, recreation, etc., and all within the existing city limits. For various reasons, the city has chosen walking and cycling as the main modes of transport:

  • This approach will improve the health of the population (see box).
  • These are the most space-efficient forms of mobility, so they are the most suitable for a busy city in which public space is scarce.
  • With a classic mobility strategy involving a high level of car use, the city would become clogged up by traffic congestion. That would be at the expense of the quality of life (poor accessibility, a lack of safety, air pollution, and noise nuisance).