Amsterdam’s 9-Year-Old ‘Bike Mayor’ On How to Make the City Safe for Kids

Lotta Crok, Amsterdam's new 9-year-old junior bicycle mayor. Photo:  BYCS.org
Lotta Crok, Amsterdam's new 9-year-old junior bicycle mayor. Photo: BYCS.org

What does the city look like through the eyes of a child cyclist? We’re getting a better idea in Amsterdam thanks to 9-year-old Lotta Crok, the city’s newest “junior bike mayor.”

Katelijne Boerma, Amsterdam’s Bicycle Mayor, created the junior bicycle mayor position in June as part of her goal to emphasize the experience of child cyclists in the city.

Crok was appointed after she won a competition last year for her idea to create a bike share bike specifically for children.

She told the Guardian, her idea for a kid-size shared bike was inspired by her travels with her family by train. Because there is never a public bike available for her when they disembark, she has to ride on the back of her dad’s bike, which is unsafe.

The railway system that runs the public bike program offered to put a bike at the station near Crok’s home, but she told the Guardian that wasn’t good enough: “I am not bicycle mayor for myself, but for all children in Amsterdam.”

Crok will help advise Boerma on how to make the city safe for its 125,000 children under 14.

She also wants to create a bicycle park in the city for children to learn to ride, so they don’t have to take chances by learning in the street. Bicycles are a primary mode of transportation in Amsterdam but Crok has urged the city to be more bold, like Oslo, which banned cars in its city center.

Boerma told the Dutch news outlet NLC she is taking Crok’s concerns seriously in her role as an advisor to city leadership.

“If you look at the city from the perspective of a child, you also make it easily accessible to others,” she said. “If you design for eight-year-olds, you do the same for eighty-eight years old.”

Bicycle Mayors are a global initiative by the Amsterdam-based bike advocacy group BYCS. Advocates in New York City have pushed for Mayor Bill de Blasio to create a Bike Mayor in city government to help advise the city about safety issues.

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