STREETFILMS: How Kids Get to School in a Civilized, Safe Country

Here's how they do it in Amsterdam. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.
Here's how they do it in Amsterdam. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

In the United States — even in car-minority New York City — our children’s lives are entirely framed by the automobile.

Katelinja Boerma, bike mayor of Amsterdam.
Katelinja Boerma, bike mayor.

And most often, their deaths are framed by them, too.

In the U.S., of course, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death of children up to age 19. Yet all too often, parents say they drive their children around — to school, on errands, to recreation — to keep them safe.

Reminder: if the roads aren’t safe for our kids, it’s because of the drivers, not the roads.

The roads aren’t going away any time soon, so clearly we need to use them better, so parents can feel safe letting their kids walk or bike to school — which is where Streetfilms comes in.

Yes, we sent the Orson Welles of the streets, Clarence Eckerson Jr., to Amsterdam for yet another primer on how basic, short-haul transportation is handled in countries that care about their children’s lives.

Take a moment to watch — and picture how it could be here, if we had proper leadership and the political will to put cars back in their place: away from our kids.

Watch as 100s of Kids & Parents Bicycle to one Amsterdam School from STREETFILMS on Vimeo.

  • Vooch

    A amusing look at the subject

  • kevd


  • Just because we should the following the good practices of the Dutch (separated bike infrastructure), this does not mean that we should also follow their bad practices (lack of helmets).

    A cyclist does not need to encounter a car in order to fall and crack his or her skull. Subjecting children to this risk should be considered a criminal act.

  • Joe R.
  • William Lawson

    How about kids being carried on their daddy’s shoulders, or kids playing on rocks at the beach? Is it a criminal act not to bedeck those children’s heads with helmets also?

  • Joe R.

    That’s always the double standard with the helmet nazis. Other common activities, like walking, carry the same or higher risk of TBI as cycling, yet they don’t recommend “walking helmets”. It’s inconsistent logic at its best. If we consider cycling risky enough to merit helmet use, then we probably should put on a helmet the second we get out of bed because everything else we do carries at least as much risk of TBI. Actually scratch that. Maybe we should also sleep with a helmet on while we’re at it in case we fall out of bed.

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  • PDiddy

    Such a prosperous and sustainable city. They have the right idea.

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  • Vooch

    When Occupants of Motor Vehicles are required to wear helmets, then lets talk about bikes.

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Streetfilms Portland Week: Safe Routes to School

As someone who lives in Brooklyn and pedals a two-year-old to daycare three days a week, I find the scenes depicted in this video to be completely incredible. There is no question in my mind that the future of New York City has to look something like this. –Editor Portland’s Safe Routes to SchoolA Clarence […]