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Amsterdam to remove centre armrest on benches so homeless can sleep

Amsterdam to remove centre armrest on benches so homeless can sleep

Amsterdam is set to join other Dutch cities, such as Utrecht and Leiden, in a move to ditch park benches that have middle armrests. According to Het Parool, the city has found these kinds of benches to be hostile architecture and strives to be more accommodating to homeless people. 

Amsterdam city council set to begin removing bench armrests

Alderman Melanie Van der Horst announced in a letter to the city council that Amsterdam will soon begin removing armrests from public benches and that in the future, there will only be such armrests on the ends of benches. “Because handrails are not placed with the aim of making lying or sleeping on the benches impossible,” she said.

While the armrests were initially placed with the intention of aiding senior citizens to get up and down more easily, they have proven to be an obstacle for those sleeping rough in the city. According to the alderman, a team of expert civil servants re-examined the resilience of the city’s elderly and determined that the park benches would still work well for them without the centre armrest.

Move comes after protest groups called for change for years

The move comes after years of protests by Vriendelijke Bankjes Bond who removed many centre armrests from public benches across the city without permission from the city, to give those sleeping rough a place to stay overnight without having to lay on the floor. 

 The group called for real support for the city’s homeless and found support from some of the city’s political figures, especially those from Amsterdam D66 and GroenLinks. “Amsterdam wants to be an inclusive city,” Elise Moeskops (D66) told Het Parool. “That means that public space must also be accessible to everyone. This applies to obstacles on pavements but also to centre railings on benches.”

Emily Proctor

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Emily Proctor

Emily grew up in the UK before moving abroad to study International Relations and Chinese. She then obtained a Master's degree in International Security and gained an interest in journalism....

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