No Need for Speed Analysing the Readiness of Different Scale Dutch Municipalities for the Speed Limit Transition
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On the 27th of October 2020, the Netherlands became the first country in the world to introduce nation-wide legislation on the subject of speed limit reduction. In this legislation, the Netherlands agreed upon the motion to change the standard speed limit within city borders from 50 to 30 km/h. This change impacts numerous aspects of urban living, making this change a full-fledged transition for municipalities across the country. The goal with this transition is to increase the liveability, traffic safety and decrease carbon output within cities. As municipalities are the main authorities in charge of implementing these transitions in their regions, this thesis will look into the readiness of Dutch municipalities for this transition and the main uncertainties that are stopping them from implementing the reduced speed limit. The main research question this thesis will be focussed on is as follows: How are identified uncertainties influencing the readiness of different-scale Dutch municipalities to reach the desired effects for the transition into a lowered inner-city speed limit? This research used qualitative analysis to gather the data needed to answer the research question. This qualitative analysis was divided into two parts: expert interviews to gather data on the effects of the transition and focus interviews with policy workers and councillors to investigate the readiness of municipalities and the uncertainties they are dealing with. The focus interviews looked at three municipalities of different scales, namely the municipality of Haarlemmermeer, Purmerend, and Edam-Volendam. This is done to investigate whether the readiness of all municipalities is the same, as they differ in governance structures. The analysis showed that to achieve the desired effects, municipalities must comply with certain characteristics, such as good public informing, large-scale implementation, and implementation with the right measures. However, the municipalities in the case study are not ready for this due to uncertainties around enforceability, lack of guidelines, and capacity issues, while some also have barriers due to lack of political backing. These uncertainties are most influential on the readiness of these different-scale Dutch municipalities, as these case studies cannot implement the transition successfully as long as these uncertainties remain unsolved. The resolving of these uncertainties are essential for the mass-implementation of this transition, making it important the government looks into addressing the issue with the enforceability of the new GOW-30 road, gives Dutch municipalities clear guidelines on how to implement the transition, and offers extra funding or subsidies to municipalities trying to implement the transition with insufficient finances. This will offer municipalities the ability to implement this transition at the right level, achieve the desired effects, and change urban living for the better.