March 14, 2014

Dutch municipalities make 660 million euro from parking tax

Filed under: Automobiles by Orangemaster @ 8:00 am

The most expensive parking garage in the country is in Amsterdam under the Bijkenkorf department store and at De Kolk, both right downtown. Both parking garages charge a whopping 5,71 euro an hour, while the cheapest parking garage in the country not too far from Amsterdam in Hoofddorp asks for just 0,80 an hour in a city full of commuters and big international businesses.

Amsterdam rakes in a cool 162 million euro of parking tax from parking meters and permits. In 2013 Amsterdam made a record amount of money from parking tax, to the tune of 166 million euro. Back then the price of permits went up, the paid parking zones got bigger and more ‘meter maids’ were doing the rounds. What’s really funny is that in October 2013 the city claimed that parking was no longer their cash cow (in Dutch), but still made a record amount that year.

In 2009 Amsterdam had the most expensive parking on the planet. See also: Amsterdam parking rates slashed.


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February 24, 2014

Our robotic overlords have lost their fining privileges, Leeuwarden court declares

Filed under: Automobiles by Branko Collin @ 12:46 am

The Dutch state can no longer fine motorists automatically for lacking insurance, Volkskrant reported on Saturday.

An enterprising judge in Leeuwarden wanted to know the name of prolific civil servant number 404040 who had booked 280,000 motorists in 2013. It turned out that number 404040 was a computer which in the eyes of the court was problematic. There is this pesky thing, you know, called the law, that says only humans can hand out fines.

RDW, the independent governmental service that collects the fines, is already studying how to avoid paying back the nice chunk of cash that it has stolen from the public. Last year alone the service collected 109 million euro illegally. In the future RDW will simply perjure themselves and put the ID of the civil servant who happens to be in the same building as computer number 404040 is on the fines.

Last year the public prosecutor tried to imprison a woman for not insuring her non-existent car.

Last week RTL Nieuws revealed that the government hardly ever prosecutes crimes committed by civil servants even though civil servants are required by law—there’s that pesky law again–to report crimes. It took RTL Nieuws a couple of years to collect the figures—they needed to use freedom of information requests to get at the information. (As you may know, the Dutch government is perfectly happy to be transparent about the times they do not break the law.) In total only 36 of 411 possible crimes were prosecuted.

Last December Transparency International declared the Netherlands one of the ten least corrupt countries in the world.

See also: Speed cameras wrongly fine motorists for years

(Photo by Heiloo Online, some rights reserved)

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February 21, 2014

Tuk-tuk makes hilly trip to nearest ATM machine

Filed under: Automobiles by Branko Collin @ 9:10 am

tuktuk-chris-mossIn the town of Vijlen in the southeasternmost part of the Netherlands, the local bank has shut down all the ATM machines. That is why resourceful villagers have started taking a local tuk-tuk service to Mechelen, 3 miles down the road, to get their cash, wrote last Tuesday.

The tuk-tuk, ran by a local volunteer organisation called Traag Heuvelland, has been operational for over two years. Originally it was used to cart tourists around, but these days it is popular with the local elderly in a quickly ageing area of the Netherlands.

The tuk-tuk operators have dubbed their service the ‘pinpendel’ due to its use as a bus service to and from an ATM machine. Viktor Terpstra told “We can take six passengers at a time. The ride takes about half an hour both ways including the money stop. There is a cafĂ© at the start of the route so that people who missed the tuk-tuk the first time around can have a cup of coffee while they wait.”

Rabobank closed ATM machines in eight villages in the South of Limburg last November because the machines weren’t used often and were difficult to secure against ‘ramkraken’ (ram-raiding).

(Photo of a tuk-tuk in China by Chris Moss , some rights reserved)

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February 3, 2014

Witkar, a car sharing project from the 1970s

Filed under: Automobiles by Branko Collin @ 4:30 pm

A computerised car sharing system from the 1970s was way ahead of its time and a product of the Dutch precursor of the hippie movement.

witkar-instituut-beeld-geluidThe video shown here from the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision contains a short news item about the Witkar (literally White Car) invented by famous provo Luud Schimmelpennink. Witkars were battery powered and available to members for a small price. A PDP-11 computer acted as a central control system and swipe cards gave you access to one of the two-seater Witkars. Their action radius was limited, making them suitable mostly for urban areas. Originally 1,000 vehicles were planned, but the project never got beyond the first 35 cars and 5 charging stations.

A problem that plagued the Witkar was that the battery drained quickly and had to be charged often. As a result not all of the Witkars were always available, as they were busy charging. Another issue with the Witkar was that some destinations were more popular than others. The project ran until 1986.

The Witkar was the product of one the White Plans, a series of plans by provos from Amsterdam that tried to improve daily for everybody. White Bicycles were a bike share project, White Housing promoted squatting, White Kids tried to tackle the daycare problem and so on.

A recent car sharing program called Car2go by Daimler (which had Witkar 2.0 as a working title) tries to prevent these problems by giving bonus minutes to people who actual bother to park the car at a charging station.

Somebody made an English translation of a part of the video.

(Photo: crop of the video)

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January 18, 2014

Live top speeds on Dutch motorways

Filed under: Automobiles by Branko Collin @ 1:52 pm

best-wel-snelThe site taps into the National Data Warehouse for Traffic Information (NDW) to bring you the top speeds registered on Dutch motorways.

The NDW registers speeds using over 24,000 detection loop pairs spaced 2.5 metres apart. (the name means ‘quite fast’) displays three types of speeds: unconfirmed top speeds (grey), daily confirmed top speeds (green) and confirmed top speeds of all time (red, with all time meaning since 31 December 2013). A value counts as confirmed when it has been registered within the minute by two separate detection loop pairs that were no further than 5 kilometres apart.

In case you were wondering, the Netherlands does have a speed limit which varies depending on which stretch of motorway you are on, but the default (and highest limit) is 130 kilometres per hour. The values you see on all indicate speeding. The fine for going 39 kph over the speed limit on a motorway is 400 euro, if you go faster than that and get caught you have to appear before a judge.

This is an example of open data slowly getting more traction in the Netherlands—except in some cases it seems.

(Illustration: partial screen capture of

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January 11, 2014

Dutch classic car collectors dump their darlings

Filed under: Automobiles by Branko Collin @ 3:06 pm

morris-minor-branko-collinFollowing a government decision to start applying road tax to classic cars, the Netherlands saw an exodus of such cars in 2013, Nieuwsblad reports.

Last year 14,115 classic cars were sold to foreign buyers. This number was less than half that in 2012, namely 6,182 cars. The ‘oldtimers’, as classic cars are called in Dutch, were sold mostly to Polish buyers (18.2%), followed by buyers from Libya (12.8%), Lithuania (7.9%) and Belgium (7.7%).

Under the old rules, cars aged 25 years and older were exempt from paying road tax, under the new rules that age has become 40 years.

See also: Number of classic cars and motors doubled in seven years

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January 3, 2014

Detecting drowsiness at the wheel for touring car drivers

Filed under: Automobiles by Orangemaster @ 8:08 pm


Dutch touring car company Royal Beuk BV is currently testing technology called the Driver State Sensor that monitors whether a bus driver is getting drowsy at the wheel. Some 20 vehicles are being equipped with a system designed by Australian company Seeing Machines, which “uses infrared light and a camera to record eye movements to monitor whether a driver’s gaze is distracted from the road for too long or if they is blinking progressively more slowly, signs they may be nodding off.” If the system detects drowsiness, it will warn the driver with an alarm fitted to their chair and an audio signal, and additional alarms will also call for human intervention.

The Driver State Sensor costs 15,000 euro which, according to Marc Beuk in an RTL Nieuws interview is too expensive for the touring car branch, but thanks to the collaboration between Royal Beuk and Seeing Machines, the price could go down to as much as 5,000 euro.

It has been said that driving drowsy is a lot like driving drunk, but there’s no social taboo on it while it is just as dangerous.

(Link:, Photo of Beuk touring car by marie-II, some rights reserved)

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December 21, 2013

Traffic signs for the colour blind and other short stories

Filed under: Automobiles,Bicycles,General by Branko Collin @ 1:19 pm

A couple of short stories today.

cars-no-entry-new-2012-branko-collin cars-no-entry-old-branko-collin1. Starting October 2012 transportation infrastructure operators in the Netherlands were allowed to use new traffic signs that have been optimised for colour blind people.

The new signs were given white lines to increase contrast between red and blue elements and to increase contrast of signs with a red border when viewed against a green background, the Dutch government said. Infrastructure operators (‘wegbeheerders’ in Dutch) are free to determine if and when they will replace the old signs. The Netherlands isn’t the first country to introduce road signs for people with deficient vision, I found examples on Flickr of similarly adapted signs in Italy and France.

2. Orangemaster and I attended the opening of the Dutch Rail Lost&Found pop-up store we wrote about earlier. We kind of rushed through it, so I did not get many photos (there is one below), but The Post Online’s photographer spent some more time there.

3. In the 1970s, the Netherlands were rapidly on their way to becoming a car sick country. Mark Wagenbuur has created several videos about how protesters managed to turn this development around. His most recent video explores how school children helped raise awareness for their particular plight in the densely populated Pijp neighbourhood in Amsterdam.


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November 26, 2013

Tunnel racks up 24,000 fines yet off limits to cars

Filed under: Automobiles by Orangemaster @ 8:51 pm

In Ede, Gelderland there is a tunnel that cars and motorbikes are forbidden to drive through, but public transport buses and bikes are allowed to use. The warning signs are clear to drivers, but still, cars and motorbikes keep driving through the tunnel to the tune of 24,000 fines at 90 euro a piece since 3 December 2012. Cars and motorbikes used to be allowed to drive through the tunnel, but that was more than a year ago, which is ample time to get used to a new traffic situation one would think.

It boggles the municipality’s collective mind why cars and motorbikes keep driving through, especially since there’s a speed camera that captures them in the act. To find out what’s up with that, they’ve called upon university students to document people’s behaviour. To soften the barrage of fines being issued, the municipality has agreed to turn off the speed camera half of the day, although at random.

(Link:, photo by Heiloo Online, some rights reserved)

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November 25, 2013

Dutch cars on the road are black, grey and white

Filed under: Automobiles by Orangemaster @ 11:38 am

Recently the Dutch Road Transport Directorate (RDW) has made some information about car registration accessible as open data, which means you can have a look at types of cars, license plates and even car colour.

In 2013 black, grey and white cars accounted for 80% of all cars sold. In Munich, Germany I was once told that most cars, besides being German brands like BMW, Audi, Mercedes and Volkswagen are usually dark blue, black or grey. The only exception would be Porsche as it is more high end, and then red, orange and yellow come into the mix.

The reason for the drab colours according to no statistics whatsoever and a decent amount of beer was that ‘neutral’ colours are easier to sell second hand than red, yellow and green cars. And when I think of a red car, I picture a Ferrari and if I think Lamborghini I picture a bright yellow car. I’ve seen a dark blue Ferrari and a grey Lamborghini and not only are they both boring, but they actually seem less expensive.

I heard a few times that pink cars get stolen more often as do red and white Opel Kadetts, which practically had their own column in Nijmegen’s regional paper De Gelderlander when I used to live out there.

(Link:, Photo of Coen Tunnel by Erik Tjallinks, some rights reserved)

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