Western Neighborhoods

Overall Group:

Stacey Bacheller, Emma Katz, Liam Morgan

haguemap

Figure 1: Map of area

Background

 The Transvaal/Schilderswijk neighborhood is located to the west of the Hague’s city centre. The population consists of 90% immigrants and lower middle class, which makes accessibility to the city centre a key goal. The neighborhood is both residential and commercial. De La Reyweg is lined with apartment buildings and some local shops whereas Paul Krugerlaan and the Hobbemaplein are more commercial parts of the neighborhood with some residences. It seems that the Transvaal/Schilderswijk neighborhood has been forgotten in the impressive transit and bicycle friendly restructuring the Hague has experienced over the past decades. It’s important that the residences of this neighborhood have just as much access to the city centre as other, higher income neighborhoods while maintaining this area’s cultural diversity.

Objective

The municipality of The Hague would like to improve the neighborhood of Transvaal/Schilderswijk to create a more attractive, healthy and livable city.  Cohesive with Dutch standards, the city aims to improve the area by providing sufficient space for bicycles, pedestrians and an overall more attractive public space. This can be achieved by deterring through going car traffic from using distributor and local roads and encouraging them to use the main roads.  Following the systematic safety principle of functional harmony, De la Reyweg in the Transvaal area should implement speed control and other traffic calming devices to relieve the road of through going traffic since the Centre Ring is located parallel to it.  In addition, despite the poor demographics, public transit in these neighborhoods is very limited; therefore, leading to reliance on the use of the automobile. The high usage of the car has also led to a lot of parking spaces along the study area and poor bicycle infrastructure.  While cycle tracks and bike lanes do exist in this area, many bike lanes end, exist on only one side, or are missing altogether.  Fixing missing links in the existing bicycle infrastructure is a priority to encourage more bicycle usage as well as the desired “All But Car,” (ABC) philosophy.

Unlike the center of the city, many roads in this neighborhood were outdated and lacked clear, obvious bike lanes and cycle tracks. At busy intersections, some bike lanes would abruptly end and continue much further ahead. Many areas of the neighborhood have confusing streets that drastically increase the risk of an accident. In order to improve the safety of cyclists, drivers and pedestrians, the city should invest more money in building clear bike lanes and cycle tracks wherever possible. While some roads like Paul Krugerlaan did have bike lanes, it was still very stressful to bike on since the bike lane network was incomplete. The street has parking right next to the bike lanes which increases the risk of dooring. Bicyclists, in some parts of the neighborhood, have to ride next to cars and tram tracks. Shops and commercial businesses line the street which leads to pedestrian congestion and traffic build up. Paul Krugerlaan would benefit from a segregated cycle track which would allow cyclists to bike with much less stress. On the other hand, De la Reyweg featured a wide segregated cycle track that was great to bike on. There are bus routes on De la Reyweg but tram access would improve the accessibility of this section of the neighborhood.

The large intersection by Hobbemaplein is an area of high congestion.  The round intersection connects multiple streets and also holds both tram and bus lines.  Cycle tracks exist along the roundabout; however, it is stressful due to the high traffic volume of both motor vehicles and pedestrians.  The area is very unattractive with insufficient sidewalks for all the pedestrians travelling through the area and for accessing the public transit.  Due to the convergence of multiple forms of transit in this area, the Hobbemaplein intersection should be improved to be a more enjoyable public space.

Problems

Building new sustainable infrastructure can be tough for city planners with a budget. Planners are forced to choose the best areas in their city that would benefit citizens the most. Unfortunately, this means that some areas of the city will become developed faster than other parts. It is the city planners job to make sure that the infrastructure is spread out evenly amongst the city and that everyone gets the same quality and access.

Increasing accessibility is great for lower income neighborhoods as anyone can access jobs, shopping centers, and transit hubs. Despite the clear benefits of improving transit access to a neighborhood like Transvaal/Schilderswijk, it’s important to keep in mind the potential negatives of making a lower income neighborhood more accessible and desirable – the cost of living could increase, which may decrease the immigrant population and cultural diversity.  Another issue planners face with designing for immigrant populations, especially in the Netherlands, is the actual usage of the facilities they design. In immigrant neighborhoods there’s less biking as biking isn’t ingrained into their native cultures and they’re not comfortable using biking as a way to get around.  In addition to that, poor bicycle facilities inherently prevent people with limited biking skills from biking. But, hopefully, if safe bicycle facilities are constructed in these neighborhoods more people will bike and it will become a major mode of transportation.

Conclusion

By improving infrastructure for pedestrians, cyclists, and cars in the the Transvaal/ Schilderswijk-west area inhabitants have better access to the center of The Hague, where most jobs and shopping takes place. By encouraging cars to use the centre ring road, motor traffic on distributor and local roads can be reduced.  The combination of reducing through traffic while improving sidewalks, bicycle infrastructure, and public spaces will lead to more enjoyable streets and neighborhoods.  Improving both public transit and the bicycle network in this area will encourage use of more sustainable forms of transportation for daily travel.  By decreasing the reliance on the car, the streets will become less-polluted and friendlier on a human-scale.