Sunday, April 10, 2011

Why is the City So Livable Today? Amsterdam Targets the Car

by Raven Earlygrow

The image of lemmings always crosses my mind after my arrival in any large urban area. That there are too many humans on the planet seems painfully obvious when the press of people and traffic jostle my brain and body.
I grew up in New York City. The crush of subterranean subway rush hour was routine to me for years, providing an intimate knowledge of sardine consciousness. I thought nothing then of passing 5,000 people just by walking down 42nd Street.
Now, after 25 years in a town whose entire population wouldn't fill a Boeing 747, I'm staggered at how many people can eat, sleep, work, and drive in one place without all of them becoming serial killers. The bad air, the tension, the number of cars and trucks, and the noise (oh God, the noise...). Now that I guess every human in Tokyo and L.A. has at least one car, the paving of paradise has reached cancerous growth levels, and it seems inevitable that whole cities are on the precipice of mass hysteria and universal lemming-y suicide. Hong Kong, London, even Paris and San Franciscoóthe End is Near. But then...there is Amsterdam.
Imagine a place where 600,000 people live close to one anotheróclose enough so they can (and do!) walk places. Where the number of bicycles on the streets outnumber the cars. Where the noise level on most blocks is so low that you could be in a tiny rural village.
There are many things that make the Dutch capital unique. But the most amazing of them all: It's the only urban place I know that has continually improved itself over the past 20 years.

Downtown Amsterdam, by ~LuLu~ BR
more about Amsterdam:

The Public transport and priority to pedestrians and bicycles as a basis for the quality of life in capital cities

On Amsterdam, bikes and the Copenhagen Wheel thingy

Cycle Traffic In Amsterdam Urban Planning

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