Review: Movement by Thalia Verkade and Marco te Brommelstroet

It is so often taken for granted that the streets around us are designed to move us from one place to another as quickly as possible. But what happens if we rethink how streets and public spaces are used? Why are cars and vehicles and the mass flow of traffic given greater importance than other forms of transportation such as cycling and walking? That's the central argument of Movement, a manifesto by journalist Thalia Verkade and Social Scientist Marco te Brommelstroet.

I was a little cynical when I first opened this one and discovered that it was originally published in The Netherlands. Really? A book from country with a strong reputation for encouraging its citizens to use bicycles was suggesting that its citizens were too dependent on cars? Furthermore wasn't this the country that came up with woonerfs? It seemed odd, but I pressed on. And what I found was quite interesting. In spite of the fact that The Netherlands has many, many people who cycle regularly, and strict road rules in woonerfs, The Netherlands still give priority to cars and the fast mass movement of vehicles. This, the authors argue is to the detriment of children travelling to and from school in any other means than by car, the difficulty many children have accessing a playground when crossing the road (even with signage,) still presents a huge risk, and when, in the event of a person being hit by a car, the pedestrian is nearly always considered to be at fault or the risk taker.

It is an interesting argument, and certainly left me to pause and consider what it truly means to share our streets, and what they could be if people weren't quite so dependent on cars. For a long time, I've had various grumbles about how too often people (mistakenly) believe themselves to be invincible and untouchable when they are behind the wheel of a car, and this book confirmed many of my thoughts on that topic.

A thought provoking read.



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