Fifty years on
Last Pentecost Day, May 15th, marked the 50th anniversary of the traffic jam. In 1955, many Dutch (and Germans) wanted to visit the flower fields in the west, and many others fancied a day on the Veluwe nature reserve, in the east. Those two traffic streams met at a roundabout called Oudenrijn, in the center of the Netherlands. All in all, some 50.000 cars passed there, causing the first Dutch tailback ever.
Back then, people were astonished, but also proud. The traffic jam meant that the Netherlands had become a ´modern´ country. It also marked the success of contemporary government policy, which was essentially to encourage car ownership and car use.
Fifty years on, the situation is different. The worst traffic jams still occur because of recreational transport, ie at the beginning or end of holidays, but commuter traffic now causes jams each day.
It is to be hoped that variabilisation, which took stakeholders half a century to agree upon, will mitigate congestion.