The university and schools are open again, people can enjoy sitting on a café or restaurant terrace, and workers are gradually going back to the office. To make social distancing easier as things slowly return to normal, Zuidas has made a few changes at various locations.
The more people return to Zuidas, the more space we will need to ensure that we can all keep a safe distance from each other. And to make sure that everyone can move around safely and easily, you will notice a few changes around Zuidas. However, some of these are more difficult to spot than others. ‘But that is deliberate. And sometimes it only takes a small change to achieve the desired effect’, explains Tanja Vissers, an inspector who has been working on accessibility, quality of life, safety and communication in Zuidas.
New pedestrian crossing
One change that is clearly visible is the new pedestrian crossing on Parnassusweg, between Amsterdam Zuid station and the Hourglass Building. ‘This change was made in consultation with the City of Amsterdam, and pedestrians still have priority of course – nothing has changed in that respect’, explains Vissers. ‘Because so many people come to VU University by train and leave the station via Parnassusweg, this was a pinch point for pedestrians wanting to cross the road. Travellers can now reach the other side of the Parnassusweg using the new pedestrian crossing, on the newly redesigned wide footpath and cycle path.’
More space for cyclists at junctions
A number of junctions that cyclists need to negotiate have been improved by changing the sharp right angle into a gentler curve. The cycle paths have also been widened where cyclists need to wait for the traffic lights to change to green. ‘This just gives everybody a little more space’, says Vissers. ‘Of course, it’s quite difficult to create more space at short notice in a busy area like Zuidas, but by using the same amount of space in a different way, we have been able to make some improvements.’
Elsewhere in Zuidas, we have already seen changes that make it easier to keep the required 1.5 metres apart. ‘We have had quite a few requests from cafés and restaurants to temporarily enlarge their terraces’, says Vissers. ‘You could see that already in Gershwinplein, for example, but now the terraces on Mahlerplein have also temporarily been given more space on the street.’ Public transport in Zuidas and around Amsterdam Zuid Station have been ‘coronavirus-proof’ for some time now; if you forget that you need to keep your distance, there are posters to remind you immediately. Does this mean that Zuidas is now completely ready for ‘the new normal’? ‘There are still some more minor changes that we want to make, but I think that we’re well on the way to making things easier. But in the end, of course, it’s mainly up to residents and visitors to Zuidas to make sure that they keep a safe distance from each other.’