This Sunday, 17 September, the center of Leiden will be closed to all car traffic. The city is closing the streets for an autovrije dag, or car-free day. Each year across Europe and the rest of the world such car-free days are organized; this year marks the first time Leiden will be closed to car traffic since the 1970’s.
A few bus lines will run on the Breestraat, and emergency vehicles will be exempt from the closing. At the same time the city has asked Leiden’s bars, cafes and restaurants to join in a smoke-free day. About 25 businesses will participate.
The car-free day is part of the European Mobility Week (Week van de Vooruitgang). In the Netherlands about 70% of cities will participate, a record. In Rotterdam a protest/cycling rally has been organized as the city choose not to participate in car-free day this year. Leiden sets a great example for other cities by closing down the entire center of town to car traffic. Other participant cities will not go to such ‘extreme’ measures.
According to the president of Leiden’s asthma awareness organization (Astmafonds), ten percent of Dutch people suffer from asthma, while a further 61% are in favor of smoke-free cafes, restaurants and bars, a concept already adopted in several other European nations.
Several activities have been organized in Leiden in conjunction with car-free day. In the morning there will be a public debate between car-free day organizers and transportation experts. Leiden sport clubs will give demonstrations. Everyone is welcome at the volleyball and soccer tournaments. Childrens’ activities include an educational kiosk from the Astmafonds, a flag-making workshop and a fashion show.
The following restaurants will be totally non-smoking on Sunday:
Annie’s Verjaardag, Branderij, Bruine Boon, Café de Valk, Café ‘t Keizertje, City Hall, Dende, Eazie Salad Wok Smoothies, Einstein, El Gaucho, Grote Beer, Hap Yam, Jantje van Leyden, Koetshuis de Burcht, La Gare, Maoz Vegetarian, Odessa Pastamania, Oudt Leiden, Poort van Leiden, Rhodos, Ristorante Venezia, Scarlatti, Voorafentoe, Viva Italia, Waterlijn
Related link: Gemeente Leiden: Autovrije zondag