Could television inspire a programme of road danger reduction?
We’ve lost count of the number of times David Attenborough’s Blue Planet has been mentioned in parliament since it highlighted catastrophic effects being wreaked upon our oceans by plastic waste. Whatever you make of Theresa May’s speech this week in which she said we should aim for a ban on single-use plastics by 2042, the fact she made an indirect reference to Blue Planet simply reinforces the power of a good documentary.
An even more poignant example of television galvanising people power was a film broadcast on Dutch national tv in the early 1970s.
According to the website bicycledutch: “The documentary was about the Amsterdam neighbourhood “De Pijp” which was about 100 years old at the time. The homes were run down and small. The streets were never built, nor fit for all the cars brought in by the 40,000 people living in the small area and its many visitors. This led to an overpopulated neighbourhood with a lot of dirt and filth and especially the children suffered. The documentary is one of a series and this particular episode looks at the situation from a child’s perspective.”
Below is an abridged version subtitled in English.
The road rage of the white van driver and the resolute way in which others dismiss the idea of streets closed to motorised traffic are incomprehensible to the Dutch today, but unfortunately, this sort of attitude is culturally ingrained here in Britain.
This week, and in separate incidents, two people waiting at bus stops have been killed by speeding cars mounting the pavement. One of the victims was a child on her way to school. Last year 43 people were killed in this way and yet, as a country, we turn away.
The Dutch documentary inspired journalists to write opinion pieces which in turn played a part in the formation of the “Stop de Kindermoord” (stop the child murder) movement, and series of mass protests and ultimately a change in culture. The rest is history. The Netherlands lead the world with their systematic approach to road danger reduction and a vision of reducing road deaths to zero.
Could we use the ‘Blue Planet effect’ to kickstart the same revolution here?
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Not only are we Britain’s most ethical insurance company, we campaign for sustainable transport. Sometimes that means protesting until a school gets the zebra crossing they’ve been refused, or running 60 roadshows this year to encourage people out of their cars, or fixing bicycles for free. Supporting this work is easy – you simply have to take out insurance with us. We provide home insurance, cycle insurance, travel insurance and breakdown cover – all while putting concern for the environment at the heart of all we do.