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Pondering Car-Free City Centers Across Continents
As the clock inches past 9 a.m. this Monday, the owner of a village shop displays its wares on the pavement in front of the store; garments, beach towels, and hiking shoes. A petite tub with four floating seals sits among them, a novelty I like and photograph. They are cute and look at me with loyal eyes. When you see the photo, you will understand why we call the zeehonden; "sea dogs."
A child must have forgotten a teddy bear, and the shop owner kindly leaves it on the bench next to the seals in the hope that one of the parents will pass by again today and return it to its small owner.
Yesterday, tourists flocked to the village, drawn by rosy weather forecasts for the weeks ahead. Cruising my car down the historic road that binds Burgh to Haamstede, once the axis stitching these hamlets into the village of Burgh-Haamstede, becomes an intricate dance with inexperienced foreign cyclists now crowding this narrow lane.
The local government, attuned to this symphony of pedals, announced plans for transforming the traffic situation. This village artery shall metamorphose into a paradise for cyclists. Cars will only be allowed on the road in winter; they will be considered guests on the cycling path and restricted to a solitary direction. The road, when yielded to the two-wheel wanderers, will echo the success stories of car-restricted havens across the Netherlands.
I've yearned for such measures for years, and the dawn of 2025 promises that my wishes will be fulfilled. It fits this tranquil village, a haven for nature lovers.
A transatlantic divergence emerges; Europe's streets are reclaimed by cyclists and pedestrians, a policy in harmony with public sentiment. Unfettered by cars, European city centers often draw the admiration of American visitors, leaving me to ponder why such a revolution is a rarity in North America.
I usually post these short stories, or sometimes just a photo of what I see on my travels in the early morning, on Patreon, and I use The Planet Substack for longer and more substantial articles. You can follow me on Patreon on: