AMSTERDAM _ Is there anything more wondrous than a boat ride on the 17th century canals of Amsterdam on a slow Sunday?
Of course, not. And therein lies a problem that has grown acute. (See links below)
In summer and on weekends, it is “fingers and toes, everyone!” as boaters jam Amsterdam’s historic waterways. Recent years have seen 30% hike in nuisance complaints that have led the city to propose drastic steps to ease traffic.
The proposals include a move to allow only electrically-powered vessels as of 2025.
The Dutch boating lobby HISWA calls that overreach. It does not question the need for order in the chaos on the canals but says an all-electric remedy is bound to push boating companies out of business.
HISWA Regional Manager Gerdina Krijger says all-electric means “hefty investments” for marinas. But if public utilities cannot provide sufficient power, she adds, the city will have to cough up “hundreds of thousands of euros to make all-electric boating possible. Has it budgeted for that?”
HISWA also rebukes the city for seeking sharp rises in touring and berthing fees “that will make boating on the canals of Amsterdam extra expensive.”
The package of proposals _ to be voted on this year _ also include a ban on nighttime canal boating (11pm – 7AM), curbing the number of passengers, deploying stewards at boat stops and limiting commercial boat operators to 550 and eliminating hundreds of illegal ones of which at least 80 now carry large groups around town.
Amsterdam boasts more than 100 kilometers of canals, about 90 islands and 1,500 bridges. Its inner city canals, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, were dug in the 17th century, the ‘Golden Age’ of Dutch trade explorers.