We tend to think that the automobile has been beloved and popular since it first made its debut on American streets, and that our car culture was inevitable and embraced by all. Not so, according to this recent article by Peter Norton. Holland is now renowned for its wonderful bike and pedestrian facilities, and we might believe that this is due to their unique history. Dutch citizens vehemently protested cars in the 1970s and demanded that their government provide better alternatives.
Norton points out that Americans also participated in numerous mass protests against cars as early as the 1950s and ’60s, especially after children were killed by careless drivers. Mothers in particular demanded safer streets where their children could walk and play without risk of death by automobile.
I look forward to a time and place when things are different. We have allowed our personal polluting machines to completely take over our public space, threatening all who dare to step – intentionally or by accident – in front of them, and consigning parents (usually mothers) to a life behind the wheel in order to keep our children safe from the other unreliable drivers.
It’s time to build safe, walkable communities that ensure mobility for all, regardless of income level and ability to drive!