Tour Boats exceed speed limits
A boat tour through the canals of Amsterdam is among the most popular tourist attractions in the Netherlands.
But if it seems your canal trip was quite a bit shorter than you anticipated, you may be right. According to local newspaper Het Parool the canal tour boats consistently exceed the maximum speed of 7.5 kilometers per hour by fifty percent — especially in the straight parts of the canals.
The paper took a sampling earlier this month using the website MarineTraffic.com, which lists the position and speed of boats all over the world in near-real time. You can check it for yourself. Got to MarineTraffic.com. At the top left, where it says “Go to Area” fill in Amsterdam, and then zoom in. Speeds are noted in knots (nautical miles per hour), and this conversion chart shows the speed in miles and kilometers.
According to the paper Waternet, Amsterdam’s water authority, checks for speed violations less than a hundred times a year. Maximum speed in the canals is 7.5 km/hour, and 30 km/hour on the city’s waterfront, the IJ.
When we checked the site, all but one of the tour boats stuck to the speed limit.
Marine Traffic derives its information from the GPS-enabled AIS (Automatic Identification System) transponders on board of ships. The website’s data is considered to be reliable.
At the moment a limited number of canal tour boats are equipped with an AIS, but its looks like the transponder will be required by the beginning of 2014.
Office Conversions Lead To Surplus Of Hotels
The large-scale conversion of vacant office buildings to hotels in Amsterdam is leading to surplus that is driving down the price of an overnight stay in the city.
The Financieel Dagblad, a financial daily, says more and more owners of office buildings are accepting offers from major hotel chains.
By converting their buildings into hotels they earn less than they would from office rentals, but as their is a glut in office space this option is preferred over vacancy.
As a result the supply of hotels rooms in Amsterdam has increased by a third in just one year, for an additional 1500 rooms.
A spokesperson for the municipality tells the newspaper the new hotels should preferably carry some added value.
“If there are already plans for five new hotels in one part of the city, one has to wonder whether it makes sense to have a sixth. In that case it would be better to give the office a different function, such as student housing.”
Boat owners pay twice as much next year
In the face of austerity programs and budget cuts the City of Amsterdam is looking for money wherever it can.
One target: owners of pleasure crafts. Next year the rates for the inland harbor dues (binnenhavengeld) will be increased by 99.45 percent.
Currently boat owners pay € 29,35/meter — while owners of electric boats are charged just € 9,85/meter.
The increase in fees is not motivated solely by financial considerations.
Alderman Carolien Gehrels, whose responsibilities include oversight of the city’s waterways management, says that over the past ten years the number of pleasure boats in Amsterdam has grown from 3.000 to 15.000.
A recently published ‘Water Vision’ for Amsterdam proposes that the city should make better use of its water ways for the transport of people and goods.
The report also calls for easier access to the water — which among other things could mean that at several places in the city parking spacea and houseboats will have to make way for boulevards, terraces and decks.
Surveillance cameras to combat urban decay
The city is planning to employ mobile surveillance cameras in order to combat degradation, neglect and urban decay, as well as to register criminal acts.
Besides existing, permanant cameras that contribute to the security and public order, the ‘extra eyes’ are needed to insure and promote the livability of the city.
Mayor Eberhard van der Laan told the city council he envisions the cameras will be used to address serious and persistent problems, such as those involving loiters and troubled youth.
In addition people who consistently place their garbage at street collection points earlier than allowed will be caught out.
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