Amsterdam’s Today didn’t just materialise, it was planned.
It’s taken 50 years for Amsterdam to get where it is today – a largely cycle-friendly space where it is accepted that cars run second-best.
Sidelining cars doesn’t just give room for cyclists. Most people who live near roads – and for that matter airports – are poor, many are minority ethnic. Transport and pollution are race and class issues.
The personally-owned car is seen as a human right, one that overrides the health, class, race and wellbeing rights of society. How can we change this? Recent demonstrations have highlighted the link between transport and social justice. Is the next step to vision a World without cars and planes?
If we’re to do so, it will mean giving people something better. Making them aware of all the benefits that already potentially exist, but looking to solutions that provide for our desires.
In Amsterdam this was the needs of the children, which quickly became play streets which quickly were demanded by other areas. The social norm, what was socially acceptable, changed. People demanded, and this gave politicians the push, and crucially the permission, to make changes.
Knowing the science isn’t enough for us. We need that missing emotional connection. Just what is it, and has art the answer?
Pic: Amsterdam streets pushing cars out, allowing people in.