Thursday, August 28, 2008

5 Reasons Not to Drive in the Netherlands

Driving in the Netherlands is purposefully made to be excruciatingly difficult. Here are a few of the steps taken to keep automobiles in their proper place, on the bottom of the transportation food chain:
  1. Extremely high fuel taxes: The 2007 fuel tax was €0.684 per liter or $ 3.5 per gallon. On top of that is 19% VAT over the entire fuel price, making the Dutch taxes one of the highest in the world. [via]
  2. Road Design: In towns and cities, roads are compressed down to the narrowest width possible while still allowing cars. Furthermore, motorists are presented with never-ending series of speed bumps, rotaries, and speed checking curves. Driving on Dutch roads is tedious and nerve-racking, nothing like enjoying the wide curves of an American suburban road with extra shoulder space.
  3. Speed limit enforcement: Dutch speed limits (km/hour), 120 highway, 70 on secondary roads, and 50 in residential, are strictly enforced using mobile and permanent roadside radar detectors rigged with cameras. It is effective enough that drivers obediently adhere to the slow limit. No more rushing by car to where you need to go.
  4. Difficult & expensive driver's license exam: 43% fail their driving exams [via] even after paying roughly €30/hour for mandatory driving school. The cost for the written and practical exam is €190 with €58 for a written retake and €120 for a practical retake. [via]
  5. Pricey Parking meters: If you want to park in Utrecht, you will find that all street spots are metered at €2.40/hour regardless of day or night, weekday or weekend. I believe that this is true of other cities as well. This is enough incentive for me not to drive into town to run some errands.
After one drive to Utrecht, I will be happy to forgo four-rubber-wheeled transport in the Netherlands and opt for bikes, buses and trains instead. The public transportation system here is easy, efficient, and fast, though also a bit on the expensive side.