Meet Happy Streets: Rotterdam’s cheeky activists for social mobility in the city
A cheerful squad of urban agitators are using Rotterdam to conduct quirky experiments in social mobility.
A fun approach
Happy Streets’ playful approach to tackling the problem is refreshing. Recent projects have included creating a temporary bike lane with painted yellow dots to demonstrate that there is room for cyclists, converting parking slots to astro-turfed picnic areas furnished with benches and deck chairs, and creating a pavement version of the game Twister. Such projects have encouraged residents and policy makers to take another look at the purposing of city spaces, and consider alternative, less car-centric models. Tactical urbanism, it seems, is spreading. In one part of town – quite independent of Happy Streets – local residents recently took matters into their own hands and painted their own pedestrian crossing to show that they needed one. ‘I thought that it was really nice that people are sometimes a bit disobedient, not because they want to make a mess, but because they just want to make the city a better place,’ says Wemmenhove. ‘We need to trust people a bit more that they also know what they’re doing.’
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