Nederlandse versie  
Keitje's     Amsterdams policy on the Less Abled
updated  05-10-2003


less abled

Amsterdam is nót easy accessable for wheelchairs or people who have difficulty walking. Pavements and sidewalks are often very unevenly laid. Missing and sticking-up bricks are not uncommon. Parked bicycles are blocking the whole sidewalks. The mostly narrow sidewalks and sometimes steep bridges don't make it easier. Not to mention the trash and the dog-faeces on your path.

Due new repavements of the streets the kerbstones are disappearing from the streets of the innercity as well as other stadsdelen like Oost-Watergraafsmeer. This to great dissatisfaction of the blind and less-sighted who use them as an extremely important orientation point (eg think about the adjacent bicycle and car lanes).

There are always parts of the city center under construction, especially during the tourists season. As in most parts of Holland the "under construction"-cordons never consider the needs of pedestrian or less abled.

When a public space is redesigned it does not mean it is in benefit for the less abled. Most shops in the Leidsestraat are still not accessable by wheelchairs after its recent repaving: the street level is now a bit lower which mean even more and higher doorsteps.


stratenmaker op de Dam
design maker
het Damplein

Since 2001 the Dam square has a new pavement. After some futile expensive attempts the entire square is now laid with keitjes (keitje is Dutch for cobble), made from Portugese natural stones. These cobbles are a bit round on top and the joints are very deep, to express the medieval history of the square. Only on the car and bicycle lanes the cobbles are grinded flat and even. However, this national square is now virtually impassable for wheelchairs, less abled, buggies and high heels. Even bicyclists bounce almost from their saddle. The cyclists association as well as the disabled were allowed to give their opinions. Sadly, nothing has been done with it: the bureaucracy of the Dienst Binnenstad stands much too far away from the Dam square user.

After several complaints and actions an accessable strip for wheelchairs and the blind will be put down by the city government before the year 2004.
However . . . feeling is believing.
Het zou goed zijn voor de samenleving als de verantwoordelijke personen van dit Dam-fiasco niet meer betrokken worden bij dergelijke projecten.


keitjes container Dam
Dam keitjes


wheelchair tram

rolstoeltram en cohen
Job Cohen

Esther Vergeer

Since May 2003 a wheelchair tram named Red Crosser takes six days a week its tour through Amsterdam. The opening was performed by mayor Job Cohen and olympic champion wheelchair tennisplayer Esther Vergeer. The tram is a project of the Amsterdam Red Cross and has a lift and a handicapped toilet. It takes a touristic route and is meant for groups of physical and/or mental handicapt people. A (round)trip costs 15 euro and this tram is clearly meant for the group tourist from outside Amsterdam and not for the less abled Amsterdammer or individual user.


rolstoeltram lift


disabled day on Dam square


In het kader van het Europese Jaar van mensen met een handicap trok de Karavaan 2003 manifestatie in september door Europa waarbij aandacht wordt gevraagd voor mensen met een handicap. Burgemeester van Amsterdam Job Cohen verrichtte (als voorzitter van het comité Europese jaar van mensen met een handicap) de opening van de Nederlandse toer op 8 september op het Damplein te Amsterdam plaats. Uitgerekend op een plek die erom bekend staat zeer rolstoel-onvriendelijk te zijn.


A lifesize seesaw had to represent equal=equal. Ironically enough. For a number of large rubber strips were temporally put over the recent laid medieval looking an feeling cobbles and over the deep joints in between, to make this circus somehow accessable to wheelchairs. Beautiful it is not, and friendly either. Finally Amsterdam mayor Cohen and his partner (in a wheelchair) could tread the most famous dquare of the Netherlands, if only for one day.

a   a


back to going around

to the top