Tuesday, 22 February 2011

What country is this?

In a recent post, David Hembrow described a pedestrianised shopping street that had just been built in his neighbourhood. It is very different from what is built here. It is well worth a read. What is particularly interesting is that despite the ease with which the shops can be accessed by bicycle, cars are not necessarily actively discouraged. Car parking is free. However, as in most cases in the Netherlands, the bike is the most convenient way of getting the short distance from your home to the local shops. In a response to a comment, David says:

What you have here is an example not of a hair-shirt community choosing to exclude cars and embrace bicycles, but of "everytown" being designed to encourage cycle usage. Given the problems which occur so frequently in other places when attempts made to restrict motor vehicles are interpreted as a threat to people's freedom and livelihood, I think there is a lesson here about a better way to go about things - a way which involves less conflict, but works.

Making it easy and convenient really is the best way.

In another comment, there is a link to one of the streets that leads to the shopping area. Here is the Google Maps link (you can see better if you click on the Bigger Map link):

Bigger map

It is noteworthy for a number of reasons.

The first is the school group. If you scroll to the right, you see more students following suggesting that this might be a whole class. You would of course never see an image like that here. Occasionally I see a small group of children being walked to school. The parents wear yellow safety vests! That says something about the levels of safety they feel.

The second thing is the look of the street going away from the picture. It could be Northfield or any new suburb around Adelaide. Even when you look at the map in the bottom right hand corner, its layout is similar.

The third thing for me is the housing. The three storey buildings in the front of the picture are clearly townhouses. They are like the ones in the development around Halifax Street in the city - except bigger. If you scroll to the left about 45 degrees, you see a line of double storey single family houses. They look to me to be on blocks of land bigger than those you find in many new subdivisions. In other words, it could quite easily be Australia. Makes you wonder.

1 comment:

  1. Even though we moved here for the cycling, the reality of what happens at schools still took us by surprise. Primary school children (i.e. 5 - 11 years of age) quite frequently go on school trips like this. You often see groups of them.

    At the end of the last year of primary education, our youngest daughter went cycle camping with her classmates and teacher. Together they rode about 150 km spread across three days, and by the sound of it, they had a lot of fun.

    This was not unusual. Most Dutch people we've spoken to can remember doing the same when they were at school.