Stop de Kindermoord Protests Led to NL Road Safety (& ‘Reach’?)

Road deaths in the Netherlands 1950-2016 by transport mode. See:  SNOV Factsheet: Traffic deaths in the Netherlands

Road deaths in the Netherlands 1950-2016 by transport mode. Click on image to enlarge. Source: SNOV Factsheet -
Traffic deaths in the Netherlands.

Why & How It All Happened





Figure 6. Traffic deaths in the Netherlands since 1950, by age. Sources: CBS, IenM.

Figure 6. Traffic deaths in the Netherlands since 1950, by age. Sources: CBS, IenM. See: SNOV Factsheet:
Traffic deaths in the Netherlands

450 Child Bike Ped Deaths & Over 3200 Total per Year Drove Decades of Reforms in Holland - & Likely the 'Reach'

In the late 1960's & '70's, the Netherlands was far from the pedestrian and bicycling mecca it is today.  Road deaths numbered in the thousands.

The accompanying traffic death graphs tell a story of incredible half-century progress in Dutch road safety, one that is all the more impressive because  deaths and injuries from motor vehicle crashes fell dramatically despite significant population growth and an exponential rise in traffic.

As documented by SNOV of NL in Road deaths in the Netherlands (2016), road deaths totaled well above 3200 per year at the peak of the traffic carnage (see multi-decadal charts, figures 5 & 6).  That was a time when Holland's economic recovery from World War II was finally arriving.  As it did, the flood of autos, trucks, mopeds and scooters were crashing themselves and mowing down cyclists, pedestrians and especially children.  Yet politicians, government planners - with public favor or acquiescence -- were also keen on motorizing the streets.

Bicyclists, foot traffic and children at play paid the price.  Figure 5 bar graph depicts annual fatalities by transport mode of victim - motorist, cyclist, scooter/moped, pedestrian etc.  Figure 6 charts the age distribution of each year's road fatalities.  In 1972 NL's population was 13.33 million; in 2016 its population was 17 M, over 1/4th more, and multi-modal road traffic has soared. Yet now, Dutch road fatalities number around 600 per year. Only several are deaths by dooring.

Stop de Kindermoord protest, The Netherlands.  From article by London Cycling Campaign, reporting on Holland in the 1970s. Over decades, reforms stimulated by the protests have made Amsterdam & NL into a road sharing mecca. Click here for article & photo. Photo source: Dutch National Archive.

NL transport expert and anecdotal reports date the Dutch far hand method back at least to the early 1970s.  Strict national vehicle exiting standards for licensing new drivers goes back many decades.  It would be helpful to learn the political, legal & bureaucratic history answering when, why and how these standards were enacted.  A history of this 'culture tool' has yet to be found in English.  And it appears doubtful a recorded history exists at all, even in Dutch.

[But if you, Dear Reader, can help fill in this historical gap, please do share what you know, have or can discover with this Project by link, file, citation or contact!] 

But my inference from this distance of time, continent and language, is that the Stop de Kindermoord road revolutionaries  were part of the story.  The rise of the Reach 'culture tool' coincided with demands for reform.  Was the protest movement then instrumental in making far hand use a popular and perhaps officially favored practice in NL in the '70's?  It did became so commonplace as to be thought merely "the way you open the car door."   

That the 'Reach' practice has faded from practice and Dutch memory as NL's road culture and infrastructure transformed, making safety for all the norm and reality, should not be surprising.  That today many Dutch citizens are unaware of the traffic carnage half a century ago, nor of those grieving parents and reformers who made Hollands roads now safe, is also not surprising.  But this history is very much worth knowing, honoring and emulating.

Stop de Kindermoord is a lesson for the modern world.  Protest and advocacy is essential to achieve universal and safe road sharing, by policy, enforcement, infrastructure, and culture change.  Hopefully our work will be as successful but without so much loss and suffering.  

Here is a sampling of sources which recount the 'Kindermoord' struggle: 

Dutch campaigners explain why the Netherlands is now so cycle-friendly

The Guardian:  

Cycling the city - How Amsterdam became the bicycle capital of the world
In the 1960s, Dutch cities were increasingly in thrall to motorists, with the car seen as the transport of the future. It took the intolerable toll of child traffic deaths – and fierce activism – to turn Amsterdam into the cycling nirvana of today

In this article, a Brit considers the NL experience, and compares it to UK now, especially with regard to school aged children:

A view from the cycle path:  Stop the Child Murder

The most authoritative report may be this:

Stop de Kindermoord, Its in Wikipedia but, well, it's all in Dutch. 

But for a fine overview in the English language Wikipedia, see:

Cycling in the Netherlands

Note:  Again, if you have information or sources bearing on the question of the 'far hand' method in the Netherlands or other countries where the practice might have arisen or spread [? Denmark, Sweden, Germany, France, Belgium, etc.], we welcome your help! Please share your knowledge with us via Contact

-- Michael Charney, Dutch Reach Project

Revised: 7 October 2017.

Stop de Kindermoord campaigners visit Amsterdam’s House of Representatives in 1972 when road fatalities exceeded 3300, 400 being minors. The Guradian:  How Amsterdam became the bicycle capital of the world

Stop de Kindermoord campaigners visit Amsterdam’s House of Representatives in 1972. Source: The Guardian.








The dramatic decline in Dutch road fatalities since the early 1970s are presented. 19 April 2011.

Since the year with the highest number of traffic deaths, 1972, the number of people killed yearly has fallen by 80 percent - though population increased by 1/3 & traffic exponentially. Source: Statistics Netherlands and the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, from Cycling NL: Netherlands’ traffic deaths down again, 19 April 2011. Click image to enlarge.

Cover of Cycling Cities Ruth Oldenziel editor & co-author, essays on 100 years of bicycle history in 10 European cities.

Cycling Cities - The European Experience, Ruth Oldenziel, et al.. 2016.

Book "Cycling Cities" Examines Bicycling History in 14 European Cities

Cycling Cities: The European Experience
One Hundred Years of Policy and Practice            (May, 2016)
Editors: Ruth Oldenziel, Martin Emanuel, Adri Albert de la Bruhèze, Frank Veraart
Publisher: Foundation for the History of Technology and Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society.

Note:  This volume is not currently available in the USA, and it has proven difficult to order from the Netherlands.  But one may try using the website of Foundation for the History of Technology:  look for the order link on the home page.  It may prove necessary to enlist a traveller to bring a copy back to the States.   Lead editor for the volume, Professor Ruth Oldenziel of Einthoven University was the authority quoted in Russell Shorto's 2011 New York Times story which provided perhaps the first journalist report of the Dutch far hand reach method to appear in English in the U.S.A.  Three weeks later her words became the basis of the Nudge Blog post on the Dutch way which directly informed and inspired this Project.
Ruth Oldenziel, Martin Emanuel, Adri Albert de la Bruhèze, and Frank Veraart (Editors) Cycling Cities: The European Experience. One Hundred Years of Policy and Practice Published by Foundation for the History of Technology and LMU Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society 256 pages, richly illustrated and full color ISBN 978-90-73192-46-1 Price €37,50 (handling costs not included) Available via: