August 2, 2016

Rich neighbourhood upset about wheeled suitcases

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 10:30 am


A few years ago, wheeled suitcases (‘rolkoffers’) became synonymous with ‘tourists’ or ‘damn, there’s an Airbnb next to my house’ for a lot of residents. The problem is the sound the wheels make on Amsterdam’s cobblestone streets and sidewalks, which apparently bothers folks in one fancy part of town.

Amsterdam’s current population is about 820,000, in a city that gets – wait for it – 15 million visitors a year. Quiz your friends about how many tourists they think Amsterdam gets every year and they’ll say a few million. By the way, the number keeps going up every year.

Residents in and around the Bickersgracht, a canal very close to Amsterdam Central Station where tourists stay have made two makeshifts signs ‘forbidding’ wheeled suitcases. We get it, you don’t like the sound of all those suitcases early in the morning heading out, but that’s not going to do shit about it.

One local man feels music should come out of the wheels to mask the sound of what actually is the fault of the cobblestone street area of town they live in rather than the suitcases. A rational suggestion from a local woman would be to indicate which hours in the day the locals don’t want to hear the rolling wheels and put that on the sign, but then this would mean you would need to enforce and then it all sounds futile again.

You’ll notice the picture taken here of what is probably a Dutch person going somewhere is on a smooth bike path that sounds way better than on cobblestone. How do other parts of the world tackle this problem? A quick Google search says that in 2014 Venice, a city that gets 22 million tourists a year, tried to ban wheeled suitcase with a fine of 500 euro (mamma mia!) but ended up not going through with it.

(Links:,,, Photo: crop of a frame of a video called ‘What defines Dutch cycling?’ by Mark Wagenbuur)

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March 4, 2010

Tape your neighbours’ noise pollution as proof

Filed under: Gadgets,General,Science by Orangemaster @ 11:54 am

Noise pollution, Dutch style: some 16.5 million of us are packed into a small country and the people living in the four big cities known in Dutch as the ‘Randstad’ (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht and The Hague) often live in old houses that have very little isolation. I have friends who refuse to live anywhere with upstairs neighbours, and in my case here in Amsterdam I can hear the neighbours’ dog yelping at passers-by. When I lived in Nijmegen, the old man downstairs had the telly on really loud. The day that stopped, we found out he had passed away.

We can’t just move to the country: for most jobs you need to leave within 10 km of your work because beyond that employers would have to pay for your travel costs and therefore will not hire you. Coming by car means major traffic jams, and so we live in town and often bike to work. You can’t rent anything in the country, you have to buy, which many people can’t do. Oh, and in the country, they have bored youth with noisy, high-pitched scooters driving around, which has become a major noise pollution issue.

So tape your neighbours in the hopes of getting them evicted is a new strategy in the country’s second biggest city, Rotterdam. Granted, many people will pipe down if you ask them nicely, but many people, and I am sorry to say, usually with children, have no idea what kind of anti-social racket they are making.

“Since February, Rotterdam is offering possible victims of ‘noise pollution’ a noise-o-meter to monitor the nuisance. The noise-o-meter is part of a campaign to counter ‘neighbourhood terror’. According to a city survey last year, some 49,000 people in the Netherlands’ second major city say they regularly suffer serious nuisance from neighbours. The noise-o-meter offers ‘an objective measure of the sound, which gives us a stronger legal case in case of an eviction request,’ said city executive Hamit Karakus about the new weapon.”

(Links:, Photo of db meter by jepoirrier, some rights reserved.)

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