The Randstad (Edge City, i.e. a city at the edge of a circle, with empty space in the centre) is a Schipholrect 426 356 498 436 Haarlemmermeerrect 399 166 479 245 Velsencircle 250 716 32 Delftcircle 220 642 60 The Haguecircle 456 569 27 Alphen aan den Rijncircle 555 201 52 Zaanstadcircle 999 168 42 Lelystadcircle 798 474 29 Hilversumcircle 492 692 34 Goudacircle 347 654 31 Zoetermeercircle 944 532 40 Amersfoortcircle 521 24 33 Alkmaarcircle 442 294 44 Haarlemcircle 466 943 36 Dordrechtcircle 334 537 30 Leidencircle 840 314 50 Almererect 245 738 400 869 Rotterdamrect 13 725 81 789 Port of Rotterdamrect 82 749 116 788 Port of Rotterdamrect 117 778 148 803 Port of Rotterdamrect 120 804 209 835 Port of Rotterdamrect 158 826 247 857 Port of Rotterdamcircle 742 617 53 Utrecht (city)circle 615 324 88 Amsterdam conurbationin the Netherlands. It consists of the four largest Dutch cities ( Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hagueand Utrecht), and the surrounding areas. With its 7.5 million inhabitants (almost half of the population of the Netherlands; when other conurbations connected to this area are also taken into consideration, it would have a population a little over 10 million, almost 2/3 of the entire Dutch population) it is one of the largest conurbations in Europe. Its main cities are Almere, Amsterdam, Delft, Dordrecht, Gouda, Haarlem, Hilversum, Leiden, Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht, and Zoetermeer. Other centres include Alphen aan den Rijn, Amstelveen, Capelle aan den IJssel, Hoofddorp, Katwijk, Leidschendam, Maassluis, Nieuwegein, Houten, Purmerend, Rijswijk, Schiedam, Spijkenisse, Vlaardingen, Voorburg, and Zaanstad.
The cities of the Randstad more or less form a crescent or chain. This shape has given the Randstad its name ("rand" means rim or edge and "stad" means city or town). The area that is enclosed by the larger cities is called the "Green Heart" (
Over the last few decades, a major topic in the Randstad is the "conflict" between the cities and the towns in between. These towns are usually much greener than the cities, they house many commuters that work in the cities and the former strongly depend on the latter for facilities such as hospitals and large scale entertainment. Cities need more space to expand, yet the towns fear losing their identity and autonomy.
Another 'hot issue' about the Randstad, is the question about its borders. Nobody can tell where the Randstad begins, and where it ends. Some will say that only the four biggest cities of the Netherlands (
Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hagueand Utrecht) are part of this Metropole, others would say that areas such as Alkmaar- Hoorn, Arnhem- Nijmegenand Eindhoven- Tilburg- Breda- Den Boschare also part of this conurbation. All of these conurbations are self-sufficient areas, but for many things, they still rely upon the bigger cities.
Culture in the Randstad
The Randstad has a history of competition. For instance, between Rotterdam and Amsterdam, the two main cities compete on many levels, from football to art. Lately the cultural sector has tried to limit this rivalry and look for mutual strength. The main cultural organisations in Amsterdam, such as the Concertgebouw and Holland Festival, have joined forces with similar organisations in Rotterdam, via A'R'dam. In 2007 these organisations published [http://www.erasmuspc.com/index.php?id=18253&type=article a manifesto] with plans for co-operation. One of the goals is to strengthen the international position of culture and art in the Netherlands in the international context.
The Green Heart
The Groene Hart ("Green Heart") is another hotly debated issue closely related to the conflict between cities and towns. On the one hand people feel this large and relatively sparsely populated area should be protected, as it is considered a valuable rural area amongst cities. On the other hand, many people enjoy living in the relatively quiet environment near their places of work and the facilities the Randstad provides.
Randstadwings and other planners thoughts
Recently, Dutch planners have started to refer to the Randstad as Deltametropool [http://www.deltametropool.nl/pages/english/Deltametropolis.php] . Deltametropolis actually consists of two large metropolitan areas:
Noordvleugel("North Wing", with a population of around 2.5 million people), consisting of the Haarlemand IJmuidenconurbations in the west, Amsterdamat the centre and Almereand the Gooiarea in the east. The conurbation of Utrecht (pop. around an extra 1 million) could also be considered to be part of the North Wing. The main center is however clearly Amsterdam, which could - as such - be considered a classical centralistic metropole. Amsterdam recently started to present itself as the Metropool regio Amsterdam. The expectation is that the use of Noordvleugel and the Randstad will become less as a result [cite web
title=Metropool Regio Amsterdam
publisher=City of Amsterda,
Zuidvleugel("South Wing", with a population of around 3.5 million people), stretching some 60 kilometers from Dordrechtin the South East to Leidenin the North. The main conurbations are the Rotterdamand The Hagueareas. The virtual centre of the Zuidvleugel lies in between these two major cities, near Delft. The first steps toward this development are currently being taken with the construction of a new fast light-rail connection between Rotterdamand The Hague: RandstadRail. A long delayed extension of the western A4-motorway from the south of Delftto Rotterdamhas also been put back on the administrative agenda, creating a second connection between Rotterdam, via The Hague, to Amsterdam.
The Randstad possesses a large infrastructure system, with many railways, motorways, trams and subways in various cities. Home to various mainports, transport is an important issue in the Randstad, with the port of Rotterdam, and Schiphol airport. There are various smaller ports and airports in the Randstad, like the ports of IJmuiden, Amsterdam and Dordrecht, as well as Rotterdam airport.
The Randstad has various motorways, most of them starting around Amsterdam and Rotterdam. Many international corridors start in the Randstad, including the A1, A2, A4, A7, A12, A15, A16 and A20 motorways, as well as various commuter routes.
Most motorways suffer from severe congestion, and are home to many bottlenecks, mostly outdated tunnels, viaducts and bridges. The Randstad, like much of the Netherlands, has a large number of waterways, and motorway tunnels and bridges are usually the only way to cross major bodies of water. Additionally, the canals in the Randstad are often spanned by raising briges, including bridges carrying major roads and motorways. Problems are commonly found at the Coentunnel, Ringvaart Aqueduct, Vechtbridge, Moerdijkbridge, Heinenoordtunnel, Beneluxtunnel and Brienenoordbridge.
Traffic jams can occur at any time of the day; however rush hour lasts from 6.00 am to 10.00 am and from 3.00 pm to 7.00 pm.
Major bottlenecks can create traffic jams up to 20 kilometers in length. Most motorways are no wider than 2x2 or 2x3 lanes, despite having some of the highest traffic volumes in Europe. Some hard shoulders are in use as peak hour lanes - traffic is allowed to use the hard shoulder as a 3rd lane during periods of congestion, when signs indicate. Because of the lack of sufficient minor roads, a lot of local traffic also uses the motorways.
There are a few missing links in the motorway network of the Randstad, especially on the A4 motorway, where construction has been a topic of debate since the 1960s.
Another growing issue is the number of trucks on the radiating motorways from the Randstad: truck volumes can be as high as 20,000 trucks per day, occupying the entire right lane on some motorways.
The Randstad is the keystone of the Dutch railway network; most intercity connections terminate in one of the key cities in the Randstad. The railway network in the area is dense and heavily used. Delays used to be common, but in the last few years services have improved - currently the only country in Europe that has fewer delays is
Switzerland. Larger cities in the Randstad have many railway stations, as well as light rail, subway or tram networks.
List of metropolitan areas in the European Union by GRP
[http://www.oecd.org/document/63/0,3343,en_2649_201185_38267583_1_1_1_1,00.html OECD Territorial Reviews: Randstad Holland, Netherlands]
* [http://www.regio-randstad.nl/index_eng.php Regio Randstad official website]
* [http://www.zuidvleugel.nl Official Zuidvleugel website]
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