Ever-larger cars and trucks are causing a safety crisis on US streets – here’s how communities can fight back

Amsterdam and Copenhagen are widely viewed as models for using public space in ways that prioritize people – but they weren’t always that way. Starting in the 1970s, grassroots movements in both cities pressed officials to reduce the dominance of cars and make streets safer for the public. These movements initially were slow to catch on but gained support over time.

Today, similar initiatives are moving forward in cities across France and Germany. Even traditionally car-centric European cities, such as Brussels and Ghent, are increasingly adopting human-focused policies by designating where cars, especially large cars, can and cannot travel…

The goal is to modify the design of neighborhood streets and parking areas in ways that prioritize pedestrians, bicycles and new forms of personal transport like microcars. Federal survey data shows that nearly half of trips that Americans drive are shorter than four miles (6.5 kilometers).