When humans outrank anchors ‘n’ autos: “It’s not about making all cities like Amsterdam. It’s about making them better versions of themselves.”

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Well, at least the hue and cry over Spring Street bike lanes recently repainted  (they’ve actually been there since 2009) has lessened the customary terminal anguish over roundabouts.

Previously, we learned about …

Leotards, brimstone and “How Amsterdam became the bicycle capital of the world.”

“The prevalence of bicycle use in Amsterdam and the Netherlands more generally is a reason why I will never move back to the UK. It is only when you’ve experienced living in a city that is not dominated by the motorcar do you realise the immense impact it has on your quality of life. The UK now looks like a hellish, backwards, aggressive place full of people who have failed to realise that they’ve partly created the hell they’re living in.”

After all, since escaping a culture of car-centric dominance offers further benefits extending in all directions, not merely a bicycle lane or two alone, there’s this.

Sharing Amsterdam’s story of transformation into a city for people (Daily Hive)

 … The experience of living and working in Amsterdam was transformational, shifting her focus from one of environmental sustainability to urban livability. Securing a job as a tour guide to supplement her income, she would show historical photographs of the city’s car-choked streets to tourists, and their reactions were almost entirely uniform: “They would almost always say the exact same thing: ‘That looks an awful lot like my city,’” remembers Dinca.

Dinca and her Californian partner briefly moved back to North America for nine months in 2013, drawn by Vancouver’s reputation for world-class quality of life and progressive politics. But a frustrated stint into the bicycle advocacy scene – including the fledgling Streets for Everyone – would often end in the same reaction from local leaders: “This isn’t Amsterdam”. But, drawing on those archival photos she had collected over the years, Dinca reminded them that, as recently as the 1980s, neither was Amsterdam.

And so, rather than continue down that rather unproductive and unsatisfying path, Dinca decided it was time to return to her adopted home, and complete her Master’s in Urban Planning at the University of Amsterdam, with an emphasis on exploring the (often undervalued) connection between transportation and land use planning.

When it came time to select her thesis project, Dinca recalled the old black-and-white photos that she would show to tourists, and asked herself a compelling question: “Why don’t cities learn from their peers’ historical mistakes and successes?”

She knew, for example, there was intense opposition and outrage at the removal of car parking at the time, while, decades later, almost all Amsterdammers would enthusiastically agree it was a positive step. So she set about better defining and quantifying these dramatic steps towards a city for people, and the average person’s reaction to them.

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