Think Cars Will Always Dominate Because ‘New York’s Not Holland’? Well, Neither Was Holland!
This one’s for all you politicians and community board types out there who reject street safety plans because “New York’s not Holland.”
Video Valkyrie Clarence Eckerson has just returned from Delft — and his latest mini-doc for Streetfilms shows again why it’s foolish to protest life-saving road redesigns on the grounds that New York can’t be as nice as The Netherlands. The reason? The Netherlands weren’t even The Netherlands until they were The Netherlands.
With expatriates Chris and Melissa Bruntlett as his guides, Eckerson reveals the hidden history of the canal-ringed western Holland city sandwiched between Rotterdam and The Hague. Decades ago, Holland was the Detroit of Europe — filled with cars and roadways designed exclusively for their use. (See below)
But with political will — and the desire to bring livability back to their car-choked streets — the Delfites fought back. It was a 20- to 30-year process to get the cars out of the city center, Chris Bruntlett says in the film. “They did it one street at a time.”
That’s how the revolution will start here. New Yorkers will simply get sick of roadways with 225,000 crashes per year and 61,000 injuries per year, and 200-plus deaths per year. So, no, maybe we’re not Holland yet.
But why not aspire to become better than we are now? Cars are a lifestyle choice that is destroying our city. Can we just make other choices easier?