Cremerstraat: A circular urban experiment in Utrecht

Utrecht aims to reach a fully circular economy by 2050. Utrecht’s sustainable vision is also reflected in its wish to become the most bike-friendly city in the world. These goals are both reflected in the "Cycle lane Cremerstraat”, which has been finalized in September 2017. This project involves the application of recycled asphalt for the transformation of an existing brick road into a nine hundred meter cycle lane.

Combining the most bike-friendly city vision with its capability to conceive environmental-focused solutions, Utrecht innovates through the Cremerstraat urban experiment. The "Cycle lane Cremerstraat”, which has been finalized in September 2017, is an incremental form of innovation in the city of Utrecht. Stakeholders joint forces and contributed ideas for this bike lane to be innovative as far as the environment and circularity it goes.

Utrecht challenged the contractors to submit a circular solution for the asphalt that will be used for this road. For this reason the contractors provided a Life Cycle Analysis to prove that their proposed solution was the most sustainable. The chosen contractor KWS suggested a project that guarantees less asphalt, two instead of three layers of asphalt, as well as 100% recycled asphalt for the lower layer of this cycling lane. As a result, reducing the amount of asphalt reduces consequently the environmental impact, meaning less CO2 emission. On the recycled asphalt side, only the lower part is fully recycled, leading to 69% less new asphalt than in a business as usual situation.


However, one of the main challenges to overcome was to get the approval of the road administrator. He was concerned about the divergence from Utrecht’s Public Space Manual standards which would imply an uncertainty in the future maintenance costs. Therefore, only the lower layer could be made with 100% recycled asphalt. The top layer was still made with new asphalt as required by the Manual standards. Further to that, the city of Utrecht applied the Environmental Cost Indicator (ECI) to calculate the environmental impact of the project as a tool for assessing the sustainability of materials.

Overall, the Cremerstraat case is an incremental form of innovation as well as a step forward  in terms of circularity, political involvement and sustainability. Cremerstraat Street is not only for cyclists to bike, but also an incentive for multiple stakeholders to discuss, calculate and come up with effective and eco-friendly solutions when it comes to Utrecht's beneficial strategies.

Lot van Hooijdonk, Deputy Mayor for Environment and Sustainability, pointed out:

Utrecht wants to be completely circular in 2050. One of the ways we want to achieve this is through Utrecht’s own procurement, as is done with sustainable asphalt in the Cremerstraat."


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