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Speed bump

Urban planner Joost Váhl (1939) made a name for himself as an activist and advocate of the mixing of traffic where the dominance of the car had to be curbed while pedestrians and cyclists were given more space. In Delft he laid the first speed bump in the Netherlands. This is one reason why he is known as the inventor of the so-called 'woonerf' or living street, although he himself is not in favour of the term as his goal is to mix traffic types and not create separated zones.


Váhl was also an early advocate of a more varied and user-friendly green environment with an eye for biodiversity. He preached the transition 'van rozenstruiken naar (on)kruiden’ (‘from roses to herbs and weeds’) in urban neighbourhoods for a more diverse green area. He criticised the large-scale, monotonous residential districts of the sixties and seventies and made all sorts of proposals to enrich the green environment with small interventions and to improve the relationship between the user and the environment. Making small differences in height was an important way to create conditions that would benefit the biodiversity of flora and fauna.

From 1970 to 1972, Váhl worked at the municipality of Delft. As a member of Tanthof working group, he was directly involved in drafting the alternative plan for the new Tanthof district, and again mixing traffic types instead of separating them was an important issue. After 1972 he worked for the municipalities of Gouda, Lelystad and Culemborg.