The city of Amsterdam could open the IJ Tunnel to bicycle traffic on Tuesday as a measure to combat the impact in the capital city of the national public transit strike. The tunnel is normally used as a throughway exclusively for motor vehicle traffic between Amsterdam Noord and Centrum.
Workers at Amsterdam public transportation operator GVB will join the upcoming strike. The strike will cause a stoppage of the city’s ferries across the IJ river, as well as the Noord/Zuid subway line that runs below the waterway, in addition to all other bus, tram, and subway lines.
Amsterdam transit alderman, and Labour politician Sharon Dijksma said that she supported the workers’ right to strike but also found that closing off access between the northern borough and the rest of the city will have a harsh impact. She said she was asking workers to consider keeping a few select major routes open during the strike.
“We are preparing for the strike and will open the IJ Tunnel for cyclists if that is necessary, but we hope it does not come to that,” Dijksma said in remarks at city hall, according to AT5. With the strike, “the Centrum district will actually be cut off from the outside world for a day and the residents of Noord will no longer be able to enter the city,” she concluded.
The IJ Tunnel has been a part of the Amsterdam traffic infrastructure for just over 50 years. Closing the road to vehicles is not without precedent.
The tunnel was opened to bike traffic on June 9, 2005, and June 15, 1993, during previous large-scale transit strikes. It is also frequently closed to road traffic during the Dam tot Damloop, an annual running race from Amsterdam to Zaandam. Occasionally, the tunnel is closed for other biking and protest events.