Taking away thousands of parking spaces each year in a major city in America would be an unimaginable prospect. In Amsterdam, it’s becoming the norm.
Earlier this year, local leaders announced plans to scale back parking in Amsterdam’s core by about 1,500 spaces per year. The Dutch capital is using a few different strategies to systematically whittle down its parking stock. Residents with downtown parking permits will no longer be able to station their vehicles where they please; instead, they will have to pay a higher fee for a specific location. Permits that once belonged to people who move away, give up their cars, or die will not be reissued. Historic street renovations will present another opportunity to pare back parked vehicles.
All told, the city believes it can eliminate as many as 11,200 parking spaces by the end of 2025. Yet even as it does so, it is not denying anyone the right to park. The disappearance of so many spots might feel like an assault on drivers, but according to a city councilman who has helped lead the initiative, the parking purge hasn’t been all that controversial. It’s barely come up in local newspapers—perhaps because so few Amsterdammers drive in the first place.
Some communities have already begun to re-envision their newly liberated outdoor space. In one neighborhood, a whole grid of streets is almost totally free of parking, replaced by a bevy of rosebushes, benches, and slides. There is also more room for bikes, on which 65 percent of the city’s daily trips are made.