Women drive cars and use mass transit. Caregivers are mostly women. Women walk and ride bikes, with and without kids. Yet in all scenarios the industry favors and designs without women in mind. Crash test dummies are male. The automotive industry is designing and selling trucks and huge SUVs rather than cars, which appeal to mostly to men. Vehicles are designed for adults only, without childseats (although the tech exists to integrate childseats into design), so they must be purchased and installed, then lugged around between vehicles, and when traveling on planes. Buses don’t accommodate strollers. Cities lack protected bike infrastructure. We live in a car culture, but cities like Asbury Park are addressing this issue. With incremental changes many US cities, and our city are becoming more female, and family friendly – designing a city for women, and everyone, ages “8 to 80”.
Hyper-macho dangerous trucks
Young men cause a hugely disproportionate share of traffic fatalities; the combination of testosterone, youth and big motors can be deadly. Young men are involved in fatal crashes at 2.2 times the rate of young women — even though both are at elevated risk compared to older drivers. Young men do pay much higher insurance premiums to reflect this. On the other hand, in our culture, we’ve done little to rein in some of the more dangerous aspects of macho road culture. Instead, it is mostly celebrated in the media in games, songs and, of course, movie franchises like Fast and Furious.
Lifted pickup trucks with bull bars are a good example. These dangerous modifications in many states go completely unregulated. Meanwhile, Europe has banned bull bars, citing compelling evidence they kill people, especially children. The notion that other people’s safety can be subordinated to the mostly male obsession with big cars reflects, in part, the privileged position men hold socially and politically.
Amsterdam wasn’t always bicycling heaven. Vehicles had been taking over city streets there just as they have been taking over streets in the US, but they did something about it…
This 1972 documentary video tells the story of a how the children in a neighborhood in Amsterdam fought for safe streets and a place to play with what we now call “tactical urbanism”.The area had become congested by vehicles. People, especially children were endangered. Does this 1972 neighborhood look like any American cities we are familiar with today? Some US cities are taking steps to change from “car culture” , into cities for people of all ages , but not enough, and not fast enough. 40,000 people are killed in motor vehicle related crashes every year in the US!
The documentary video was discovered recently, and shortened to about 10 minutes with subtitles. Watch and share.
Image from the documentary from 1972. The streets are dominated by cars and there is not a tree in sight.
“This would be a perfect area for a trial with a maximum speed of 30km/h” (18mph) explains a traffic expert of the city of Amsterdam to a child in a film that was broadcast on Dutch national TV almost 42 years ago.
“The TV documentary was made for a progressive broadcasting corporation and shows the Amsterdam neighbourhood “De Pijp” which was about 100 years old at the time. The homes were run down and small. The streets were never built, nor fit for all the cars brought in by the 40,000 people living in the small area and its many visitors. This led to an overpopulated neighbourhood with a lot of dirt and filth and especially the children suffered. The documentary is one of a series and this particular episode looks at the situation from a child’s perspective.”
The same street as seen in Google Streetview is very different. The carriage way was narrowed. The homes renovated and the trees and bicycles make the area a lot friendlier.
And read about How Children Demanding Play Streets Changed Amsterdam