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Heerhugowaard

The comparatively young municipality of Heerhugowaard lies in the heart of a polder, a piece of reclaimed land called Huygenwaert. Heerhugowaard is located just north of the city of Alkmaar (famous for its cheese market), in the north-western part of the Netherlands. It is about 15 km from the North Sea and 50 km from Amsterdam.

In 1960 Heerhugowaard only had 6,800 inhabitants, while in 2013 it has a population of 53,000 (on 40km2). Heerhugowaard has become the ‘promised land’ for many city-dwellers from the Randstad, who – in search of fresh air and space – have found their new haven in ‘De Waert’. Inherent in its development, the polder changed so much in structure and appearance that Heerhugowaard lost its agricultural look almost entirely. Modern land development has ploughed up the old polder landscape. Where once the farmer planted potatoes, houses now rise from the ground; where once small cabbages were planted out, now a business park emerges. But the historic polder characteristics are still recognizable.

 Heerhugowaard is an agreeable city to work and live in and has many recreational opportunities to offer. There is a large shopping mall, Middenwaard (renovated and extended in 2006/2007). There are good bus, car and train connections to other cities, towns and villages, and club life is bubbling. A good provision of jobs exists. The local council is actively creating facilities for its (future) inhabitants. That is why the city’s slogan is: Heerhugowaard: City of Opportunities.

 Heerhugowaard has high ambitions for sustainability. The realization of ‘Stad van de Zon’ (City of the Sun), Europe’s first energy-neutral district shows that it can actually be achieved. And for the future, Heerhugowaard looks for more opportunities. In Heerhugowaard, sustainability should be the standard. As fossil fuels run out of supplies, it is important to reduce our energy use and switch to alternative energy sources. Heerhugowaard has the ambition to become completely energy neutral between now and 2030.

Key issue is the reduction of energy use for living, working and transport and the generation of renewable energy. In addition, the municipality is in this respect more ambitious than the national government. Traffic bottlenecks are creatively addressed and there is a lot of attention to the preservation and improvement of existing natural values. Heerhugowaard also aims to increase the use of bikes in order to limit negative effects of traditional fuelled vehicles. This is clearly related to the city’s ambition to become energy neutral.

Planned project activities in the pilot city (Heerhugowaard)

Heerhugowaard has already held one information day during autumn 2013. There was also decision maker meeting in April 2014. The decision makers aim to make sustainable transport an integral part of future urban developments. They promote sustainable transport modes such as the (e-)bike among the city’s alderman and councillors. Besides, Heerhugowaard tries to adjust the infrastructure of the city in advantage of the cyclist. The city also aims to increase the awareness of entrepreneurs about the possibilities (e-)(cargo)bikes gives. In order to achieve the cities’ aims, Heerhugowaard works together with Mobycon on an Actionplan. Herein, various measures will be defined that might by implemented to increase the use of e-(cargo)bikes.

In the city, Subway is an important company that promotes the e-bike. They do their deliveries only with e-bikes and e-scooters. Together with other companies such as pizza deliverer New York Pizza, Subway shares its e-bike and e-scooter experiences in order to promote these transport modes for professional use. They also helped in making the first information day a success. The owner of the shopping centre in the centre of Heerhugowaard is now installing a charging point for e-(cargo)bikes, further promoting e-bikes. Besides, there might be more companies interested in the use of e-bikes, e-cargobikes and e-scooters. Therefor, a second information day will be held next autumn.

It turned out to be difficult to find other pilot companies in Heerhugowaard, although the city is so bike-minded. Therefor, companies from other cities such as Nijmegen and Amsterdam are now also participating. That is very interesting due to the various companies, acting in various urban environments, where the project now is taking place.

Photos: Matthieu Verhoeven