If cities and streets are designed for children, they’ll be safe for everyone. But it would be even better if children were in charge!
Amsterdam has a Bicycle Mayor, which isn’t surprising, but in July the second Junior Bike Mayor was appointed.
Amsterdammer Lotta Crok (10) was named the world’s first Junior Bicycle Mayor, representing the voices of some 125,000 children in Amsterdam (14 and younger). Katelijne and Lotta have been working closely together on various projects to boost cycling uptake and safety among children, campaigning for public transportation bike rentals (OV fiets) for children for example.
Lotta passed the torch to the new junior mayor on 4 July, during the ‘Bicycle Heroes’ event at NEMO Science Centre. This competition saw over 150 Amsterdam children, aged 8-11, submit their creative ideas for making cycling better – and safer – for all kids in the city.”
Kids have been making a difference in Amsterdam since 1972 – watch the amazing video of kids in Amsterdam:
THE NEW YORK TIMES FOR KIDS: MEET ARMIN TAHERI, THE JUNIOR BICYCLE MAYOR OF AMSTERDAM
In the Feb. 23, 2020 NYTIMES For Kids issue:
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
Amsterdam wasn’t always this way. We have plenty of work to do- with the prevailing love affair with cars in the US.
“Making a city where most trips are done on bikes requires utterly discarding conventional car-centric ways of thinking about transportation. Over the last 60 years, Amsterdam’s leaders, planners and designers have by trial and error created a template for a city where bikes are the dominant force in transportation planning and design. That template has five essential characteristics; skip or short-change any one of them and your city of bikes won’t work as well.”
5 Reasons Why Amsterdam Works So Well for Bikes
In most cities, the network of bicycle tracks and lanes is far sparser than the overall street network for vehicular traffic. In Amsterdam, the street network map is the bike network map. Almost all streets in the city have excellent bike facilities of one type or another. What is extraordinary is that in Amsterdam you are more likely to need a specialized car map than a bike map, since many streets have limited or no car access.”
People unfamiliar with the idea of the bicycle as real transportation sometimes see Amsterdam—the famously bike-friendly Dutch capital—as a fantasyland that has very little to do with the grown-up transportation world of cars and trucks. In reality, a readjustment of perspective is needed, since Amsterdam has succeeded in creating a transportation system that is one of the most successful in the world. Transportation in Amsterdam is the epitome of sustainability. It is convenient, cheap, clean, quiet, efficient, and safe.