Nobody saw it coming (Well almost nobody)

Two decades after the end of the Second World War,  an enormous pattern was taking over cities across Europe, as each day more cars were being put on the road and as their prime target began to unceasingly take over public space in city after city. And yet, few cities were prepared to face the challenge. The metastasis was so grindingly persistent and day by day that it simply seemed to be part of Europe’s  new and hard won prosperity. And who after all  can be against progress?  Certainly not most politicians.

But here and there, starting already in the late sixties, individual citizens and small civil society groups opened their eyes began to take on the challenge.  There are stories of how these actions played themselves out in many European cities. Here is one the comes from Amsterdam and that we share with you thanks to Pascal van den Noort and Velo Mondial, who passed this along from a story entitled “Amsterdam children fighting cars in 1972” put  online by Bicycle Dutch – .

Here we are today and the challenges and the stakes from these same problems are even greater than ever.  I would say that we have a great deal to learn from the past. Let’s start by listening to the voices of several children on the streets of Amsterdam in 1972.

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Eric Britton
9, rue Gabillot, 69003 Lyon France

Bio: Educated as an international development economist, Eric Britton is an American political scientist, teacher and sustainability activist who has worked on missions and advisory assignments on all continents. Professor of Sustainable Development, Economy and Democracy at the Institut Supérieur de Gestion (Paris), he is also MD of EcoPlan Association, an independent advisory network providing strategic counsel for government and business on policy and decision issues involving complex systems, social-technical change, civil society and sustainable development. Founding editor of World Streets: The Politics of Transport in Cities | See Britton online at and @ericbritton

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