Movement is co-authored by a Journalist Thalia Verkade and Social Scientist Marco te Brommelstroet an urban planning expert at the University of Amsterdam popularly known as the fietsprofessor on social media.
Movement raises critical questions about how our streets are designed and how they can be made better in terms of sustainability, liveability and safety for all.
The book encourages the reader to think and introspect how the public spaces are planned ‘limited to car usage and commutes’ – but rather one must imagine them beyond for the larger interest and community welfare.
The authors highlight that the cars size has increased over the years and consume more public space for car parking which is not the best idea of using public spaces. For instance, these changes are reflected in the world of toys – particularly LEGO cars which are now six studs wide, compared with just four in the 1980’s.
The authors say ‘You can’t get rid of congestion by building more roads.’
Movement explains the concept of ‘Bottlenecks’ and tells ‘adding more lanes to a motorway in order to tackle road congestion is rather like a fat man loosening his belt to combat obesity.’
In Chapter 2 ‘Caution – Children at Play’ the book explains how cars conquered American cities and caused trouble. With their intimidating speeds, cars caused chaos, disrupting normal urban life. Parents who had lost their children, protested with posters portraying the car as a monster.
In contrast, citing an example of Amsterdam, ‘although bicycles are neither expensive not impressive vehicles, they can help people connect and experience travel in a uniquely positive way.’
But Netherlands too had its share of car preference era that led to accidents and invasion of roads by cars. It was movements like ‘Stop de Kindermood’ (Stop child murder) and implementation of limited liability law which had put the car drivers on the back foot while Cyclist’s gradually started taking centre stage over the decades.
Movement is a refreshing take on urban planning putting non-motorized transport on the center stage. It makes you think beyond a car-centric society and keeps cycling and walking in the forefront.
Chapter 3 recounts real stories of accident victims and briefly brings forth cases of casualties that left a permanent suffering to their loved ones. Devoted to road traffic victims, it briefly explains several instances of collisions and deaths of children.
In United States of America, about 15,000 people die due to arms and ammunition and there are several debates in mainstream media. But around 1.3 million people die of road accidents globally and around 38,000 in America but there is no discussion weather car ownership is good thing.
‘The fact that we no longer date to imagine a world not dominated by the car intrigues me’ say the authors.
Movement discusses about ’15-minute – cities’ and states the example of how Anne Hidalgo, the Mayor of Paris took advantage of Covid-19 situation and built pop-up cycle lanes and converted car free streets and imposed 30km speed restrictions. Many of the pop-up cycle lanes are now made permanent and bike share subscriptions have increased manifold. Soon other cities like Milan, Aukland, Berlin etc. followed the 30kms per hour restrictions and build cycling lanes.
In its concluding chapter, the authors say’s ‘Build a city around the cars and you’ll get motorists. But build a city around people and you’ll get pedestrians, cyclist’s and children on the streets.’
The book is available online on amazon.in
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Author: Vijay Malhotra, Mumbai