Saturday 20 December 2008

What are streets for ?

This is what the street right outside our home looks like this evening. The local children have been playing hopscotch. Anyone on the way in or out by bike or in a car has to take care around the children. No parental supervision is needed.

Sometimes the chalk paths and buildings made by the local children stretch all the way down our street and around the corner into the next. Children ride back and forth on a variety of different devices, or run up and down.

Ball games are also encouraged by a goal on the green outside our home. No injuries, damage to property or car crashes have been reported as a result.

Our home is in the middle of the google maps image. You'll see how these houses are built around a small green with a little playing equipment. The message is quite clear. The street is not merely a space for cars, it's a space for children to play. For people to socialise.

On New Year's Eve, one of the neighbours put up a tent so all could get together and socialise in this space.

This is a quite typical example of planning of a residential area in the Netherlands in the early 1970s (our home was built in 1972). The same principles are still applied, with the same results.

A later blog post shows an example of a hopscotch game built permanently into a road in a residential area.

A Cul-De-Sac ? Isn't that "bad" ?
Like everywhere else in Assen, and indeed across the nation, whether cul-de-sac like this or another street design, all residential streets are connected to the finely spaced grid of very high quality cycle-routes which cover the Netherlands. There are two high quality cycle-paths, both four metres wide, within 200 m of our home. These take us to every destination. There is no single design of residential street which discourages cycling and walking, it's the lack of a decent network of cycling facilities and the lack of subjective safety on the roads which do exist that cause the problem.

Both areas feature on the Study Tours that we organise in Assen.


WestfieldWanderer said...

It certainly looks great living in a civilized country...

Happy Xmas.

Anonymous said...

It is like that where I live in Dublin sometimes,as the Roads in the Estate are very narrow and does not have much Traffic. Although this is the Rare Exception and not a lot of Area's are so privileged. Usually most have Traffic Whizzing by and is very Dangerous. When it is getting Late they usually Leave the Local Park and come and Play Football and the Girls Play Hopscotch on the Road outside their Houses.

Anneke said...

What are roads for? Why, to play on of course! :)

I saw an article in the local paper today, the heading was "Shop owners in Catharinastraat want parking lot back" After reading the article it turns out they don't actually want the parking lot back, but rather the bike lane in the middle of it. Right now it's just dirt, they're building a new theatre, and to do so, they had to remove the bike lane. This means that cyclists have to take another route, which apparently means that shop owners don't make as much money as they used to. Funny how they do mention the parking lot in the heading, but only to establish the setting, as the article isn't even about the parking!

Anonymous said...

Roads should be for playing in . . . but kids aren't allowed outdoors any more. This is also one of those safety in numbers things. When there are kids on every corner playing hide & seek, tag, or sticking their heads out of coal holes while playing cowboys & Indians, every parent feels safe. When it's just your Little Johnny playing outside, he looks vulnerable to every nightmare you can conjure up.

Anneke said...

True, but still, I don't know if this particular road is, but most residential areas are only 30 km/h (about 18 m/h) for cars, sometimes even less, cars have to slow to a walking pace. This means that when a cars drives through the street, children are warned long before (more time to move away) and also that if an accident does happen the results are not nearly as severe as with higher speeds.

I love that picture btw.

l' homme au velo said...

Perhaps I should rephrase this,most of the time it is very safe with Cars haveing to Park halfway up on the Paths as the Roads are to narrow to pass otherwise, and Children can Play on certain Roads that are quiet such as mine. But sometimes you get certain Individuals who Speed down the Road and fly around the Corner and have to Jam on their Breaks so not entirely that safe. Parents sometimes watch over the very Tiny Tots playing outside with the other Children from inside their Glass Storm Porches on Stools. These would be the up to Three Year Olds that they would be more concerned about.The Older Children are more Clued in to the Dangers and watch out for passing Cars.

RJ said...

This makes me think of the "audio warning devices" of motor vehicles and bicycles.

Doesn't a bicycle bell sound much more charming and civilized than a horn blast?