Dutch news in brief, Monday 1 December 2008

1st December 2008, Comments 0 comments

Find out what’s the latest news in the Netherlands in the roundup of today’s press from Radio Netherlands.

1 December 2008

Christian Democrats present a bill Monday to promote bicycling

Improving public transport and making the bicycle an attractive alternative to sitting in traffic jams or waiting a long time for crowded trains or trams is a topic in today’s newspapers. The AD quotes Christian Democratic MP Joop Atsma, who says that more should be done to get people to travel by bike, “which is healthy, good for the environment and a weapon against traffic jams.”
Mr Atsma says the Traffic Ministry lacks vision. He says, “Only EUR 30 million are spent for bicycle paths, while billions are spent on highways.” Because the Traffic Ministry “hardly does anything”, the Christian Democrats are presenting a bill Monday which includes dozens of measures to improve conditions for cyclists. These include revoking the surcharge for taking a bike on the train, introducing a lower VAT rate for keeping a bicycle in an overhead shelter, requiring cycling as part of a naturalisation course, paying people who cycle long distances to work the maximum compensation rate of 19 euro cent. Mr Atsma says, “Only 16 percent of all trips between 7.5 and 15 kilometres are made by bike. This can be increased if we invest in safe and decent cycling routes.”
Socialists propose half-price train tickets
The Socialist Party is presenting its own transport plans. De Telegraaf writes, “It’s time that the train be made a decent alternative to the car.” The largest opposition party is proposing that tickets be sold at half-price outside of rush hour and a second ticket at a quarter of the regular price. This plan would encourage families to take the train instead of the car. Socialist Party MP Emile Roemer says, “If you belong to a family with two children you are just about crazy if you do not take the car, since the train is much more expensive.” He says companies should receive tax deductions for providing their personnel with season tickets for public transport. The party is also calling for the construction of more rails in order to end the “abominable delays”.
Health insurers provide discount for organ donors
The front-page headline in De Telegraaf announces a yearly deduction of EUR 120 in health insurance rates for those who agree to donate their organs. “The four largest health insurers…hope the new donor policy will induce ‘several tens of thousands’ of people to donate their organs after death.” The new policy became available Monday. The insurers say there is an urgent shortage of organs. “The waiting period for patients who need a kidney is four and a half years. Every year 160 people die because no donor was available. Around 1,400 people in the Netherlands are on a waiting list for a kidney, lung or heart.”
First meeting of the Netherlands’ Obama fan club
“The Obama virus is also flaring up in the Netherlands,” writes the AD. On Sunday, “120 people came from far and wide to take part in the first meeting of the Obama Fan Club”. AD writes that the club, which started in November, has nearly 500 members. One of the three founders, Ed van Dijk, says they decided to establish the organisation after discovering, “to their amazement that ‘Netherlands-Americaland’ did not yet have such a club”. At the Scheveningen restaurant where the meeting took place there are “posters, balloons, the Stars and Stripes, beamers with anti-McCain slogans and an ‘Obama gospel choir.’” A member of the fan club says, “I hope that what Obama brings about will also have an influence on the social character of the Netherlands.”

[Radio Netherlands / Frank Scimone / Expatica]

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