Video: Amsterdam children fighting cars in 1972

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.

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