Transportation Planning Casebook/Stop de kindermoord


“Stop de kindermoord” (“Stop the child murder” in English) is a social movement that begun in the 1970s with the purpose to eliminate the number of children (and generally, pedestrian) deaths induced from the surge of motor vehicle usage in urban areas. The government response to the initial automobile surge was to start planning for the anticipated future of the automobile, and started reconstructing existing roads, and in some cases acquired and demolished properties, to optimise for the use of the automobile. This decision further increased automobile traffic, greatly increasing the likelihood and severity of road accidents with cyclists and pedestrians in urban areas. The impact of the social movement continues to affect the political and social outlook of transportation related planning in the Netherlands today, and is largely considered the turning point that much later resulted in the Netherlands becoming well known for their world class bicycling infrastructure.[1]

Figure 2: Fietsersbond's 1978 propaganda poster questioning the use of streetspace. Location: Hendrik van Viandenstraat, Amersfoort. Source:[2]
Figure 3: Street protests at Albert Cuypstraat intersection, Amsterdam 1972. Source: Nationaal Archief.

List of ActorsEdit

The following is a list of actors, and their impact on the larger social movement at the time:

Advent of the Automobile - In the 1950s and 1960s, car ownership increased dramatically[3] as the affordability and practicality of the technology met with the lifestyle of the middle-class. As a result, mode-share moved from cycling to private cars in this time. Existing roads became increasingly congested with vehicles (automobiles), compared to cyclists on bikes who were naturally coerced against the kerb of the streetspace. Further, the urban areas in the Netherlands developed organically before the advent of the automobile, when street traffic consisted of pedestrians and relatively low volumes of hauled carts (also slower than automobiles). As such, the width of the streets are often very limited in Netherlands urban areas relative to younger western nations.

Netherlands Government’s Response to Automobile Surge - The Government decided to re-allocate existing streetspace, and in some locations, private property with property acquisitions to widen roads and provide better infrastructure focused around the use of the private motor-vehicle. Regardless of intention, this decreased the amenity for cyclists, rendering trips by bicycle in urban areas more dangerous than before.

Increase in Road Accidents & Fatalities in Urban Areas - In 1971, it is recorded that more than 3000 people were killed by automobiles, where 450 of them were children.[3]

Media Coverage of Fatalities - Newspaper articles, such as the headline “Pressiegroep Stop de kindermoord” by Vic Langenhoff, brought the general public's attention to the impact of the surge of motor vehicle traffic in urban areas.

Street Protests and Lobbying - As the government had already decided to prioritise automobile traffic in their transportation planning decisions, the general public were forced to take protest action to demonstrate the widespread impact to the government. Lobbying groups such as the Fietsersbond published propaganda, such as the 1978 poster (Figure 2), to question the reasoning behind the current direction of government policy.[2] The public sentiment was increasingly visible, and rallies would occur frequently in urban areas across the Netherlands to continue pressure on the government.

Middle-Eastern Oil Crisis - In 1973 an oil crisis in the Middle-East occured, where oil exports to Netherlands, Western Europe and the US were halted.[3] The resulting increase in petroleum prices in impacted countries disincentivised the purchase of fuel for private motor vehicles, and therefore encouraged travellers to consider alternatives for transportation.


The timeline documenting the contextual history, rise and impact of the “Stop de kindermoord” social movement is outlined in Table 1 below:

Table 1 "Stop de kindermoord" timeline
Time Event(s)
1867 First bicycles introduced into the Netherlands i.e. Michaux velocipedes imported from Paris, France.[4]
1871 First Dutch cycling club ‘Immer Weiter’ established to promote joys of riding bicycles, and to rally against unfavourable abuse and consequences towards cyclists. Later became Nederlandsche Velocipede Bond (NVB) in 1883, and Nederlandsche Wielrijders Bond (ANWB) in 1885, promoting cycling tourism and road improvement.[4]
1890 Approximate turning point for bicycle from upper class ‘toy’, to middle-class utility.[4]
19 May 1896 The first automobile, the Benz Patent Motorwagen, appeared in the Netherlands commencing the introduction of the automobile.[5]
1901 3,000 guidlers (local currency) national budget allocated for the first time to construction of bicycle paths.[4]
1906 Central government introduces the Motor and Bicycle Act, with legislation concerning use of bicycle paths, road rules, minimum equipment for bicycles (steering, bell/horn/trumpet, one working brake and a ‘lantern’ for night use) etc.[4]
1910 Annual production from Dutch bicycle industry reached 30,000 to 40,000 bicycles per year.[4]

For planning purposes, the government counted passing cars on state highways, with 20 per day, and at the busiest points, 60-90 per day.[4]

1919 The House of the central government rescinded the tax on bicycles.[4]
1920 Bicycle use increased rapidly, and since this time became the most popular mode of transport in the Netherlands (at least until about 1950).[4]
1961 Passenger kilometres of the bicycle peaked at about 17.5 billion per year, where the ‘car’ also exceeded this amount of passenger kilometres in the same year (based on Figure 5).[4]
1971 Statistics find more than 3000 people killed by motor vehicles, with 450 being children.[3]
20 September 1972 Headline article “Pressiegroep Stop de kindermoord” written by journalist Vic Langenhoff, whose daughter was killed in a road accident.[3][6]
1973 Oil crisis in Middle-East, where oil exports were stopped to Western Europe (including Netherlands) and US.[3] Petroleum prices increased as a result.
1975 The “Eerste, Enige, Echte Wielrijders Bond” or “ENWB” (presently named “Fietsersbond”) was founded, as the first and only cyclist union group in the Netherlands.[7]
1977 Bicycles reached their lowest passenger kilometres since 1950 of about 9 billion per year, nearly half that of the 1961 (Figure 5).[4]
1978 Hendrik van Viandenstraat street in Amersfoort was blocked off for photography to illustrate alternative uses of streetspace in a famous poster of photos (see Figure 2) published by Fietsersbond.[2]
1983 Fietsersbond rallied “Komitee 50 is te veel” (loosely translated to “Committee 50 is too much”), a political movement to reduce the speed-limit in urban areas from 50 to 30 kph. As a result, Neelie Kroes the Minister of Transport, Public Works and Water Management, released the responsibility for urban area speed-limits to respective town and city jurisdictions.[7]
1993 Inflection point in Fietsersbond’s focused efforts from safe cycling, to comfortable cycling, as mandated in their issued manual for cycling. Includes aspects such as road surface and width, direct routes between popular origins and destinations, max waiting times at junctions etc.[7]
1997 Fietsersbond further lobbied for increased quantity and quality of bicycle sheds (covered parking) for many years leading up to 1997. More than 500 million Euros invested, and from 2000 to 2005 cycling to railway stations in Netherlands increased by about 46%.[7]

Car reaches passenger kilometres of about 143 billion and continues to climb (Figure 5).[4]

2011 Cyclist fatalities reduced 67% in the Netherlands since 1980.[8]

Map DataEdit

Figure 4: Map of all dedicated bicycle paths network in the Netherlands (April 2018). Source:[9]

The map (Figure 4) shows the bicycle path in the Netherland as of April 2018, which only includes dedicated/independent cycle paths. The total cycle network length is over 3500 km.[9]

Policy IssuesEdit

After the 1970s, the path for the Netherlands has been different from other countries with regard to the engineering streets. By implementing some policies, like designing and improving safer and more convenient local streets for cyclists, the death and injury rate fell dramatically with the increasing population and the exponentially rising traffic.

Compared with the peak total fatality number of 3200 per year, the fatalities number on-road as of 2017 were only around 600 per year[10]. The traffic deaths caused by motor vehicles with the number in the thousands, the number hit the highest level, with 3300 people dead, 500 of whom were children in 1971[11]. A total of 3264 people died on-road and around 450 children fatalities on road in 1973. As the bicycle was nearly excluded from the vision of government from 1950 to 1975[4], and the growing number of death especially children on road, the mass protests in the 1970s pressured the political power of the government to listen to the voice of the public. It has taken time for decision-makers and planners to accept and start to re-plan the streets for bicycles. The Dutch government started to rebuild the segregated lanes for cyclists and also provided enough funding for them [12].

Municipality-based PoliciesEdit

For each municipality, they have the responsibility to improve the cycling experiences which includes the infrastructure of roads as well as the bicycle parking facilities in different places. The approach applied is different: some municipalities have an independent bicycle policy as others integrate them with general transport policies. The government will provide special budget allocation on large infrastructure projects, and some bicycle parking will be financed by car parking incomes, as well as private companies and public-private ventures.[13]

For example, in the city of Groningen, the policy focus to make a compact city in which 78% of the residents live within a 3 km radius of the center of the city, with 90% of jobs provided here. This leads to distances of travel easily covered by cycling. The plan implemented in 1977 only allowed bicycles and buses traveling between each sector of the inner-city and restricted motorised vehicles to drive in.[13]

In Amsterdam from 2012-2016, a long-term bicycle plan has been implemented to improve the bicycle infrastructure. To tackle the problems of bicycle parking, narrow bicycle lanes, and a lack of bicycle infrastructure, the government determined to invest €120 million ($USD 131 million) in bicycle infrastructure by 2020, and make the investment a total of €200 million ($USD 219 million) by 2040[14].

Car-Free SundayEdit

The government announced the ban to completely stop the private motor vehicles driving on a number of Sundays from Nov 4th, 1973, lasting for three months. This changed the mindset of some Dutch people[15]. It showed that former modes of transport (such as bicycles) less dependent on oil are viable for everyday lifestyle and therefore, a feasible option for traveling.[16]

Discussion on Public Behavior ChangeEdit

Jan Wittenberg, one of the founders and first president of the ENWB (Dutch cycling union), points out that through analysis and design of urban planning, the solution of contradictory wishes and opinions of people can be found, but sometimes it is too abstract for the public[17]. Thus in order to better provoking the engagement of the society, such as cycling over driving private vehicles, introducing policies is not enough. Policies also need to be understood by the public in order for the public to comply effectively.


Figure 5: Transport mode usage in the Netherlands by passenger kilometres (billions). Source:[4]
Figure 6: Road deaths (police registration up to 1995; determined by Statistics Netherlands from 1996) in the Netherlands since 1950, by age of the victim. Sources: Statistics Netherlands, IenW.[18]

Cycling background before 1950Edit

Before 1890, bicycles were a luxury item. The rich who cycled created a ruckus and prompted cyclists to join together into cycling clubs. The first, called ‘Immer Weker’, was created in 1871 to enhance the joy of riding together and to prevent cycling abuse, safeguarding the interest of other cyclists. The total number of bicycles in the Netherlands, which had reached around 435,000 by 1908,  rose to 1 in every 10 inhabitants in 1912 and took 75% of all traffic share in 1916. This showed that Netherlands had a good foundation of cycling culture to rely on. However, from the mid-1920s, motor transport grew at an increasing rate due to the drop in car prices as a result of mass production. By 1939, the number of passenger cars had reached 100,000. By 1940 the number of bicycles was 4 million. From around 1950, the bicycle share in the total number of trips and kilometres travelled started to decline, with the decline accelerating after 1960.[4]

Changes from 1950 to 1975Edit

The number of passenger cars rose from 139,000 in 1950 to 3.4 million in 1975. The number of inhabitants in the Netherlands rose from 10 million in 1950 to 13.6 million in 1975. The number of houses doubled from 2.2 million in 1950 to 4.4 million in 1975. These social, spatial and economic developments caused cities to expand. In 1950, the total number of traffic fatalities was 1,021, while 19,500 casualties were registered. In 1972 there were 3,264 traffic fatalities and 70,000 casualties.[4]

From 1950 to 1975, the bicycle was almost entirely excluded from the government's vision, as admitted by The Ministry of Transport in 1983: "In the period between 1960 and 1975, the construction of bicycle facilities lost much ground due to the increase in car traffic, which resulted in greater emphasis being placed on constructing facilities for cars. The increase in car traffic left little room over for the cyclist, while very few new bicycle facilities were being constructed. As a result, utilitarian bicycle traffic was pushed into a tight corner." (Verkeer en Waterstaat, 1983)[4]

Before the Stop de Kindermoord protest and advocacy, most of Europe including the Netherlands began replacing early bicycle infrastructure with widened roads for motorists as cities began to expand and competition for road space became a safety hazard for cyclists. The rapid jump in drivers caused a sharp rise in cyclist deaths, peaking in 1971 at about 3,300 deaths at the hands of motor vehicles. Out of the deaths, 450 were children under the age of 14.[4]

On 16 March 1972, A TV documentary was made and broadcasted about Amsterdam children’s struggle with vehicles from a children’s perspective. The overpopulated neighbourhood streets were neither built for cars nor for the massive car volume that came from the increased population buying cars or from tourists. The next day, on the comment section of the newspaper, there were many reviews about the tragedy that other readers have felt for the children and the discussion slowly grew.[19]

On 20 September 1972, a headline article was published in a newspaper titled “Pressiegroep Stop de kindermoord” written by journalist Vic Langenhoff, whose daughter was killed in a road accident, causing an uproar throughout the nation. This triggered a social movement called "Stop de kindermoord" to advocate for safer cycling conditions. In October, demonstrators block off an intersection by occupying the streets. In December, a riot broke out and cars were overturned and used to block off the street for demonstration in De Pijp, Amsterdam.[19] The Pressiegroep Stop de Kindermoord Foundation was founded on March 22, 1973 in Eindhoven to pressure the population and public authorities to take necessary measures to guarantee the safety of young pedestrians.[20]

Other factors were in play to pressure the Netherlands government into making the switch from car orientated transport to cycling. In 1973, the oil crisis in the Netherlands after the boycott by Arabic oil-producing countries due to the Israel-Palestine conflict increased petroleum prices. In 1975, the previously defunct cycling clubs were re-established as the Dutch Cyclists’ Union to lobby for bicycle interest. In 1978, at the peak of the movement, 15 thousand Amsterdam residents gathered to pressure the council to restrict auto in the city and successfully passed the votes in favour of restricting auto movement and storage. [4]

Lasting effects on the 21st century NetherlandsEdit

In 2001, the Stop de kindermoord momentum and Foundation became a part of the larger road safety campaign by the government’s orders, 3VO / Veilig Verkeer Nederland, or "Safe Traffic Netherlands", and continues to campaign for lower road deaths.[20]

A 40-minute, crowdfunded film called ‘Stop killing the Children’ based on the theme of the Stop de Kindermoord movement features interviews with Chris Boardman, Dr Rachel Aldred, Dr Ian Walker, George Monbiot and the founders of the Stop de Kindermoord movement, to promote the bicycle culture from Netherlands into the United Kingdom.[21]

Some astounding statistical achievements are listed below:

  • 27% of all trips are by bicycle.[22]
  • Highest bicycle modal traffic share in the world.[23]
  • 36% of the Dutch list the bike as the most frequent daily mode of transport.[24]
  • 85% of the Dutch own at least 1 bicycle, with estimates having 18 million total bikes countrywide.[25]
  • There are as many passenger kilometres covered by bicycle as by train.[26]

Discussion QuestionsEdit

  • Why is it necessary for these policies to be understood by the public after the introduction of the policy?
  • Has the government encountered any difficulties in the implementation phase after the policy was launched (for example, the inadequacy of infrastructure)?
  • What is the public outcome after the launch of the policy?
  • Has the policy outcome been positive or negative, and why?


  1. Wagenbuur, M. (2021, January 5). How the Dutch got their cycling infrastructure. Retrieved 15 April 2021, from
  2. a b c Slütter, M. (2020, October 21). Whose Space Is It? Retrieved 24 April 2021, from
  3. a b c d e f BBC News. (2013, August 8). Why is cycling so popular in the Netherlands? Retrieved 23 April 2021, from
  4. a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s Tom Welleman, editor. (1999). THE DUTCH BICYCLE MASTER PLAN: Description and evaluation in an historical context. The Hague, Netherlands: Directorate-General for Passenger Transport.
  5. Satanovsky, G. (n.d.). Benz Patent Motorwagen is the first car in Netherlands. Retrieved 25 April 2021, from
  6. Reid, C. (2019, September 23). Redesign Roads So That Motorists ‘Stop Killing Our Children,’ Urges Crowdfunded Film. Retrieved 23 April 2021, from
  7. a b c d Fietsersbond Pers. (2021). More about Fietsersbond. Retrieved 24 April 2021, from
  8. Wardlaw, M. J. (2014). History, risk, infrastructure: perspectives on bicycling in the Netherlands and the UK. Journal of Transport & Health, 1(4), 243–250.
  9. a b Koning_Malloot (Reddit user). (2018, June 6). All The Dedicated Cycle Paths In The Netherlands. Retrieved 26 April 2021, from
  10. Charney, M. (2017, October 17). Stop de Kindermoord Protests Led to NL Road Safety (& ‘Reach’?) – Dutch Reach Project. Retrieved 26 April 2021, from
  11. Fried B (2013). The Origins of Holland’s “Stop Murdering Children” Street Safety Movement. StreetBlog
  12. Hembrow, D. (2013). A view from the cycle path. Retrieved from
  13. a b Ministry of Transport, Public works, and Water Management. (2007). Cycling in the Netherlands. Ministry of Transport, Public works, and Water Management.
  14. City of Amsterdam. (2012). Long-Term Bicycle Plan 2012-2016. Gameente Amsterdam, 2012. Retrieved from:
  15. Nehra, W. (2020). History of Amsterdam: Car-free Sundays. Retrieved from:
  16. Bicycle Dutch. (2013). Car Free Sundays, a 40 year anniversary. Bicycle Dutch.
  17. Slütter, M. (2020, October 21). Whose Space Is It? Retrieved 24 April 2021, from
  18. SWOV. (2021, April 21). Road deaths in the Netherlands. Retrieved 26 April 2021, from
  19. a b Wagenbuur, M., 2013. Amsterdam children fighting cars in 1972. [online] BICYCLE DUTCH. Available at: <> [Accessed 25 April 2021].
  20. a b Veilig Verkeer Nederland. (2001). Veilig Verkeer Nederland. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 25 April 2021].
  21. Ginty, C., 2019. Stop Killing our Children Documentary. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 24 April 2021].
  22. Fietsberaad (Expertise Centre for Cycling Policy). 2009. [PDF]. Cycling in the Netherlands .The Netherlands: Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management. Available at: <> [Accessed 25 April 2021].
  23. Sommer, Ed. D., Elisabeth. (2003). A fair modal share for cycling: twenty percent by 2020 in Orlando. CiteSeerX. Available at: <> [Accessed 25 April 2021].
  24. European Commission. (2014). Quality of Transport report. European Commission, Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport.  Available at: <> [Accessed 25 April 2021].
  25. IamExpat. 2021. Cycling in the Netherlands. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 25 April 2021]
  26. Waard, JVD., Jorritsma, P., Immers, B. (2012). New Drivers in Mobility: What Moves the Dutch in 2012 and Beyond?. Delft, the Netherlands: OECD International Transport Forum.